The metaphor of a child entertaining himself on a playground is often used in an attempt to express the sheer joy that we adults find in riding our bikes in the forest. Only, how often have you ever ridden a place that actually was like a playground?
Playgrounds generally consist of various features or toys that you can have fun on: swings, teeter totters, slides, jungle gyms, you name it. No one tells you the order in which you need to play with those items. And for some of items, such as a jungle gym, you can play with it in a variety of ways, and no one can tell you which way is right or wrong.
So why do we allow our mountain bike trails to dictate what we do? Generally, most mountain bike trails follow a set path and provide a specific set of features or obstacles that we must encounter in a certain order.
But what if we took the trail lines off the map? What if we stopped telling people how to approach the trails? What if we blew the lid straight off the hinges of the creativity box that we’ve so closely controlled for so long?
Bishop’s Rock does exactly that.
While we have it listed in our “trail” database, Bishop’s Rock isn’t really a trail per-se. Rather, it’s a 40-acre domed rock that is packed full of natural slickrock features and lines.
And you can ride absolutely anywhere you please.
No really, you can. While most places like Bishop’s Rock are generally hush-hush, this bona fide mountain bike playground has been designated as such by the local BLM, so you are totally within your rights to ride anywhere you want on the rock.
Sure, there are a couple of trails: one short climb to reach the top of the rock from the road, and one easy descent off the side of the rock as a bail out option. But other than that, the only limit to what you ride and how you ride it is your imagination.
I had the opportunity to take two laps through the area with local shredders Will Kreutzer and Jeff McCullough. While they showed us two different “recommended routes” down the rock, through a mind-blowing array of entertaining natural features, we also spent plenty of time pioneering lines that nobody had ridden yet. I spotted a sweet near-vertical rock that I was able to roll successfully, but while I was eyeing up and executing the roughly 50-75-foot roll, Jeff was looking bigger. A former college DH racer, Jeff chose instead to launch off of a rock outcropping, gapping down to the slab I had just rolled. This was his first time hitting that line as well, and he ended up dropping a bit further than he anticipated: he almost ran out of landing, hucking over about 15 feet from top to bottom.
So if you want crazy stunts like those–including gap jumps across chasms and tricky white-knuckle descents, Bishop’s rock has ’em! If you want to keep your tires firmly on the ground, you can do that too thanks to natural berms, moderate rolls, and simply entertaining lines.
The point is, you can make Bishop’s rock what you want, and nobody is going to stop you. If that’s not the definition of an MTB playground, I don’t know what is.
Ok, enough talking… check out this raw video, and see what Bishop’s Rock has to offer for yourself:
Finished Bishop’s Rock and ready for more riding in Del Norte? Check out my list of 5 Must-Ride Trails in Del Norte.