Bicycling in Wichita Falls
The popularity of cycling is on the rise in the United States. Not only does riding a bicycle provide people with an abundance of mental and physical health benefits, it also grants riders a way to become a part of a community and foster meaningful relationships. Wichita Falls, Texas is one of America’s premier locations for cyclists. From its nationally known Hotter ’N Hell Hundred race, to its extensive local trails and more, there are a number of reasons this city is the perfect town for cyclists.
“I race all over the country every year. From epic trails in New Mexico and Colorado, to the Flume trail at Lake Tahoe. The Wee-Chi-Tah trail in Wichita Falls is 100% the most fun you can have on race day. It's just a fun and fast drag race through fun obstacles you would have built with your friends as a kid. My favorite race every year”
“Wichita Falls has great trails that cater to mountain biking, road cycling, and gravel riders. No matter where you live, there is most likely an easily accessible trail-head nearby. There are also restrooms, water fountains, and bike repair stations all along the paved trail.”
Recommendations from a Local Bicyclist
Trista Eason, the owner of Flex Appeal Fitness Center, is a Wichita Falls resident who has been part of the bicycling community for the past year. Last Christmas, she received a bicycle as a gift and “dove right in.” she expressed that it was easy to get involved in the community because everyone is so welcoming and friendly.
“There is always someone to ride with and learn from,” she says. “Wichita Falls has great trails that cater to mountain biking, road cycling, and gravel riders. No matter where you live, there is most likely an easily accessible trailhead nearby. There are also restrooms, water fountains, and bike repair stations all along the paved trail.”
For those cyclists interested in making a day or weekend trip to Wichita Falls, Trista has some recommendations for a bicycling getaway. She suggests visitors not miss the mountain bike Wee-Chi-Tah Trail.
“It’s not too incredibly technical,” she says, “but has a lot of great features that can challenge good riders but also accommodate the skill level of new riders.”
After experiencing the exciting 12 miles of the Wee-Chi-Tah Trail, Trista recommends grabbing a meal, especially 8th Street Coffee or Gypsy Kit.
She suggests taking a seat at the park across the street from these businesses to relax and absorb the downtown view and vibe. “Then grab your bike,” she says, “and stroll around our downtown area, making your way down to the MPEC where you can hop on the circle trail and see the falls and venture through Lucy Park.”
Planning a getaway day like this is sure to satisfy any cyclist who is curious to discover the city of Wichita Falls.
Trails in Wichita Falls
Available year-round, the bicycle trails in Wichita Falls can be enjoyed by all levels of cyclists. One of the most popular off-road trails is the Wee-Chi-Tah Trail, which runs approximately 12 scenic miles along the Wichita River. Two of the races during Hotter ‘N Hell, a triple threat and the mountain bike race, are held on this trail. Voted the best urban off-road trail in the state of Texas, the Wee-Chi-Tah presents plentiful challenges for advanced cyclists. Riders will encounter a number of man-made obstacles on this ride, including switchbacks and punchy climbs. One of the trail’s many manmade elevated wooden bridges allows cyclists to experience a thrilling 10-foot climb into the treetops. People seeking access to this trail can find trailheads at the Texas Tourist Center on Central Freeway or at 502 Wichita Street.
The most expansive trail in town is the impressive Circle Trail, which currently stretches over 20 miles. This trail weaves throughout the city of Wichita Falls in multiple sections: the Wichita River Section, the Holiday Creek Section, the Seymour Highway Section, the Barnett Road Section, and the Wichita Bluff Section. These wide concrete pathways offer scenic views of the city’s lakes and rivers, trees, and wildlife. There are also covered shelters and picnic areas along the way for travelers to stop at and have a rest. In addition, several handy bike repair/tire pump stations are located along the trail for bicycle maintenance.
The new Wichita Falls Trails app shows you all the great features of the Circle Trail, including rest stops, bike repair stations, restrooms, and points of interest. Download the app today!
Wichita Falls welcomes its cyclists downtown. Riders can now safely park their bikes at new sculptural steel bike racks and then explore downtown’s restaurants, bars, art galleries, and more. The installation of these new racks began in 2018 by Downtown Wichita Falls Development in an effort to provide an inclusive environment for our friends on two wheels. Each artistic, yet functional, bike rack features a different local theme or identity we celebrate and are a great addition to our community. Riders can find the colorful racks at various intersections around the downtown area. As of July 2020, there were 13 sculptural bike racks with plans to add more.
The City has added bike racks to the buses to accommodate the needs of riders. Each bus is equipped with one bike rack which can hold two bicycles. The bike racks increase transportation options by allowing a bicycle trip to be incorporated with public transportation.
Another project aimed at making urban cycling safe in Wichita Falls is the addition of bicycle lanes. There are currently 20 miles of bicycle lanes in this 4-5 year project, which started with the additions to Hamilton Street. Once completed, there will be about 100 miles, both dedicated and shared by motorists.
Wichita Falls Named a Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly Community
The League of American Bicyclists announced that it is honoring the efforts of Wichita Falls to build better places to bike with a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award. The award recognizes Wichita Falls for its commitment to creating transportation and recreational resources that benefit its residents of all ages and abilities, while encouraging healthier and more sustainable transportation choices.
“Communities like Wichita Falls are leading the nation when it comes to important livability factors that people want where they call home, like safe and accessible places to bike,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. Wichita Falls joins 53 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities as part of a movement toward more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected places. Our nation and globe are facing complex public health and road safety challenges, and we’re proud that Wichita Falls and communities like it are embracing bicycling.”
The League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program sets the standard for how communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability, and accessibility, while allowing them to benchmark progress toward making biking better. With this latest round of 53 new and renewing awardees, there are currently 488 Bicycle Friendly Communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Bronze BFC award recognizes Wichita Falls’ commitment to improving conditions for all people who bike through investments in bike education programs, bike events that promote and encourage people to choose biking, pro-bike policies, and bike infrastructure. Stephen Santellana, Mayor of Wichita Falls said, “Prioritizing and creating a bicycle friendly community has been a goal in City Council’s Strategic Plan and the city-wide Economic Development Strategy. We are excited to see that goal achieved today. This is an honor for Wichita Falls to be awarded a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award. Cycling has helped shaped our community and is a source of pride for our citizens. There are only eleven other cities in the state of Texas that have the BFC designation. This award will further aid in establishing Wichita Falls as a true cycling community.”
Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred Annual Race
In 1982, a new tradition began in Wichita Falls, one that would grow in popularity over the years until it became nationally known. That tradition is the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred. Originally presented as a way to celebrate the town’s centennial, this bicycle race now takes place every year in late August. Temperatures typically soar into the 100s this time of year (“hotter than hell” as some would say), making the 100-mile race quite the challenge.
The 4-day event attracts over 13,000 cyclists annually who come from all over the world to participate in the race and connected events. In addition to the main race, there are also off-road races and runs, consumer shows, entertainment, and much more. The people of Wichita Falls always take great pride in the event and come together as a community to make it a winning experience for all who attend.
Don’t miss the Hotter’n Ale 0.5K. No, not another 5K, a 0.5K. How far is a 0.5K? 0.5K = 0.3 miles = 1,640.42 feet = 19,685 inches. The Hotter’n Ale, hosted by Downtown Wichita Falls Development, is a free block party that is open to all ages that evening. Activities include yard games (i.e. corn hole and ladder golf), contests such as best calves, a DJ, and more. Runners are encouraged to dress in 80’s athletic wear. They will be lead by their “coaches” to 9 local establishments in downtown Wichita Falls. Each location is offering a serving of food or spirit with registration. Must be 21+ to register.
Other Races, Rides, and Groups
The hotter ‘n hell hundred isn’t the only race or group ride in Wichita Falls. Gravel rides are held on the second Sunday of every month. Riders meet in front of odd duck coffee downtown at 8:00 am.
The midnight riders get together the last Saturday of the month. They meet at 7:00 pm at the Wichita Falls Brewing Company and begin the ride at 8:00. Helmets and lights are required for this ride. This group welcomes bike riders of all levels who are 21 years of age or older.
Thermal Thursdays include all levels from beginner to advanced. They meet at lucy park every Thursday, except for the first Thursday of the month, which is reserved for dirt crit racing. Dirt crit racing takes place at the J.S. Bridwell Ag Center.
Endurance House hosts a number of different rides, including their kid’s ride (beginner level) at 2:00 pm every Sunday.
On Sundays at 2:00 pm, and Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, an intermediate level group ride takes off from berend’s landing.
Wee-Chi-Tah BMX holds Thursday practice and Saturday racing at their local track.
The beginner “Couch to 50-mile” training group meets during the summer. They ride on Monday and Wednesday evenings, starting at 5:45 pm. Riders can meet them at the Wichita Falls Brewing Company. They also ride at 9:00 am at odd duck coffee.
A trio of intermediate groups meets every week. The Tuesday group rides at either 6:00 pm or 6:30 pm and begins at Memorial Stadium. The Saturday MSU group meets at 8:00 am at the MSU statue. The Sunday group starts at varying times in the morning but always meets at Frank & Joe’s.
Intermediate MTB group ride gets together on Sundays at 2:00 pm at the Wee-Chi-Tah trail. They meet at the TxDOT travel center on I-44.
Aaron’s pain train is for advanced riders. They meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:00 pm and on Saturdays at 9:00 am, all at berend’s landing.