Last time in this blog, we mentioned some of the best trails to enjoy in Florida and we included Markham Park as an exclusive trail for biking, where conditions go from rocky in some parts to hard packed sand in the forested areas, steep technical climbs and descents. Let’s have a deeper view on this interesting place to ride.
(16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise, FL 33326 (954) 389-2000 - FAX (954) 389-2019)
With an area of almost 700 acres, the park is located at the edge of the Everglades Conservation Area. A succession of interconnected lakes also offers the opportunity for fishing. A swimming pool complex, an outdoor target range, a fox observatory, and a model airplane field, are other distinctive amenities besides mountain bike trails. A big campground includes sites for RV and tent camping. Athletic facilities include a tennis/racquetball center, two basketball courts, a jogging path, and volleyball areas. Bikes are available to rent. Picnic shelters, with grills, tables, and water, are available for rental. You will need to wear a helmet and if under 17, you must submit a written consent from a parent or legal guardian to be allowed to ride. The trails are constantly being maintained by volunteers from the community with the result of an outstanding job. A group of devoted locals are continually working on the trails, not only maintenance, also rebuilding and reshaping of trails and trail features. For instance, one of the most interesting additions to the system is a trail for disabled riders. As mentioned before in this blog, the use of trails requires an annual membership or daily fee: $US 25 plus tax per year or $US 5 plus tax per day. Trails are closed certain times a year and only MTB are allowed. In addition, pets, pedestrians, hikers and runners are forbidden on the trails. You should avoid the park after rainstorms since the lakes have a tendency of overflowing into the trails.
This Mountain Bike Trail System is probably the best known park that offers MTB trails in South Florida. Fans will find an exigent experience, with these near 11 miles trails, where some tough root and rocky climbs along with drops that vary from 10 to 30 feet are offered for novice, intermediate and expert riders. The Park is built over limestone beds, mainly coral reefs prior to the last ice age. Now all that remnants are rocks and dirt on top of the soil. It is important to mention that most of the trails are under canopy, a nice feature considering the heat condition of South Florida.
Some enthusiasts of MTB riding mention Markham Park Trail system as the most technical trail in Florida, since rocky and man-made obstacles (ladder bridges, log-overs, a totally twisted bridge), increase the level of difficulty compared to other similar trails in the area. Topography varies in every trail from single-track to rock-gardens, fast-flowy berms in Armadillo, and steep climbs and descents, for example the Crime Scene. Trails mainly flow in a clockwise direction, and almost all of them lead the rider to the next trail. Riders could switch features of the trails for different loops variations, or ride the trails on one big loop. Finding trails signed by skill level is another helpful aspect of the trails. Additionally, when an advanced feature is present, the trail has a shortcut for beginners. There is also a service road along the lakeside with a double purpose as Novice and Adaptive trails.
Different expectations according to your riding ability
Novice/Intermediate rider: it will be a challenge for you. If you feel you are more to the Novice side, you better stay away from the expert trails. Climbs and drops are difficult to complete, so intermediate bypasses will be helpful.
Intermediate/Advanced rider: you will enjoy a lot of the entire park and mainly the expert sections. Take your knee pads with you to jump safely since you can fall in sectors filled by shells, corals and loose gravel.
Advanced/Expert rider: you might enjoy some of the trails sections, but it won’t be an entirely challenging ride since you would be part of the top MTB riders.