Last Tuesday I treated myself to some new dirt. Since Binder Lake in Jefferson City MO has been on my to do list for a while and BigJimMac was available for a few hours after work to give a guided tour, I couldn't pass it up.
The plan was to drive out, set up a campsite for myself, ride some, then fish the lake from a belly boat, then grab a night ride (which is quite legal at Binder by the way). Of course I was running late so the fishing portion got dropped. I was able to ride the Yellow Loop on the east side of the trail, 1 lap counterclockwise on a 29r and then a portion of a lap clockwise on a double-boinger 26r, after setting up my tent and hammock and making sure all my little baby beers were nestled snugly in their icy beds for later.
I liked the Yellow loop a lot. It's all singletrack with a hardpack dirt surface with a lot of forest floor debris on it (rustic!) and plenty of embedded rocks. Going ccw it mostly just winds, twists, and switchbacks up and down the hillside that is the eastern shore of the lake until you hit a little clearing at the northernmost point where you turn back and cruise a rocky shoreline trail back to the beginning... 4 miles-ish. There were some neat bits of well-done rock armoring done at a few of the drainages and the whole trail flowed nicely.
Then it was beer-thirty.
As the daylight faded, Jim showed up and we headed across the little dam at the south end of the lake. We rode north on the Dark Blue to Light Blue to Dark Green to Light Green (staying right/east) then looped back (staying right/west). It was dim on the way out and dark on the way back.
That big loop route on the west side was awesome. There were some man-made features here and there but the star of the show (for me) was the fast and flowy sections (and there were plenty!). There were a few spots that required you tuck your bars through some close-spaced saplings and quite a few tight-ish switchbacks but that just kept things interesting. Definitely going back to ride this again, fo' sho'.
Also worth mentioning, the campground was quite nice. It's more oriented for RVs and pop-ups but most of the sites had a flat spot suitable for a 2 or 3 person tent. Besides just a flat spot, you're getting a 2 car paved parking pad, a picnic table, BBQ grill, trash cans, Forest Service-style fire ring, a wooden canopy, water spigots every few sites, and (get this) hot showers and flush toilets in the newer-looking campground bathroom. Nice.
I was really impressed with Binder. Kind of a nice mixture of Brown County (hot showers, flush toilets and bike-oriented trails) and Council Bluff Lake (Ozark dirt and rock riding and... a, well, lake in the middle).