On a sunny Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, my fourteen-year-old son and I pulled into the newest mountain bike park in Central Texas—Station Mountain, in the hilly lakeside hamlet of Marble Falls—with slight trepidation on my part. Though I spend a lot of time on my bike and once traversed the 3,014-mile perimeter of Texas, I prefer to stick to roads of asphalt or gravel. Luckily we weren’t there to put on a demonstration, just to preview the park and chat with its teenage owner and creator, Rhett Jones. 

After speaking with Jones, we climbed to the top of the park on our bikes via the shuttle road that bisects the 129-acre property. Actually, my son ditched me halfway up to check out the jump lines near the bottom. After snapping a few shots of the rolling Hill Country views from on high, I less than gracefully descended through the park, doing the best I could on my gravel bike (learn from my mistake and bring a proper mountain bike, as my son did). Toward the bottom, I was happy to watch him zip along the easy-flow trail known as Low Tide. He assured me it would be perfectly doable on my bike. So I chased him through the jumps for a few laps, feeling the weight of my worries shaken out of me on my nonsuspension bike. 

Station Mountain, which opened on November 3, would be an impressive addition to Central Texas’s growing mountain biking scene even if its creator weren’t still in high school. The property is crisscrossed by twenty trails that climb 370 vertical feet. It also offers continuous shuttle service to whisk riders back up to the top. The park builds on the success experienced by nearby Spider Mountain Bike Park, which opened in 2019. Located about thirty minutes north of Station Mountain, in Burnet, Spider Mountain has become a winter destination for riders from outside Texas. “It is the only year-round lift-accessed mountain bike park in the country,” said Wiley Mosley, an account executive with Giant Bicycles and a member of Team Super Awesome, an Austin cycling team. Riders can also explore such nearby spots as Reveille Peak Ranch and Rocky Hill Ranch, as well as the multiple trails in or near Austin, such as Walnut Creek and Brushy Creek. In short, there’s never been a better time to mountain bike in Texas.

Station Mountain began as a school project for Jones, who has been biking seriously for about three years, riding seven days a week. He’s a senior at Alpha High School, a private school in downtown Austin, where every student is tasked with creating a “Masterpiece”—an audacious or “Olympic Level” project. (His peers have set out to launch a clothing line, create a TV show, and teach one million kids the game of chess, among other pursuits.) Not unlike start-up founders on Shark Tank, each student starts with a clear, one-line goal statement. “I’m building the world’s best bike park by building Texas’s best bike park as my first step,” Jones said in a video on Alpha’s YouTube channel.   

Astoundingly, Jones opened the park less than a year after beginning the planning process. “I was like, ‘All right, screw it,’ ” he said. “I’m gonna go make a business. I don’t care what anyone says; we’re making this happen.” He wrote his business plan in January 2023 before moving on to raising $358,000 and securing suitable land. Then came the design phase, followed by construction, which began in July. He did all this while attending school and during summer vacation, drawing inspiration from other entrepreneurs, including his father (who owns a small business) and mentors at school. “I’ve read all these stories about high schoolers who founded businesses,” Jones said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool. I want to be that guy.’ ”

Courtesy of Rhett Jones at Station Mountain.
Rhett Jones midjump at Station Mountain. Courtesy of Rhett Jones
A trail at Station Mountain.
A trail at Station Mountain. Photograph by Aaron Chamberlain

To raise funds for the park, Jones employed a classic hustle mindset with a modern twist. He sent his pitch deck to local founders and entrepreneurs, using those initial contacts to land Zoom calls. On those calls, he gathered advice on how to strengthen his pitch. “I spent like three hundred hours making a pitch deck that you could read in two minutes,” he said. Then, on LinkedIn, he messaged any investor who also seemed to have an interest in mountain biking. The vast majority ignored Jones, but that didn’t faze him. “I messaged about four hundred people and got five responses and two investors out of it,” he said. Jones also sent Twitter direct messages and posted in Facebook mountain biking groups. Eventually he was able to cobble together the entire $358,000. 

Raising money was difficult, but finding a place to build the park was an entirely different problem. Jones scoured real estate maps and found 123 privately owned (not necessarily for sale) ranches that had more than three hundred feet of elevation within two hours of Austin. “I sent every single one of them emails, handwritten envelopes, and cold calls, the whole thing,” he said. “One-twenty-three of the one-twenty-three said no.” After narrowing his search to property that was actually for sale with his desired specs, he found the land that is now home to Station Mountain. Jones was able to make a lower-cost lease deal that gives the landowner equity in the company. “It’s a locked-lease deal, so as long as I sustain payments they can’t sell or do anything to the property,” he explained. 

Once Jones had secured the land, he set out to design the park. He wanted Station Mountain to offer options for all riders of all levels, from beginner to expert. “We have everything, from the greenest of the green trails to the biggest jumps in the whole state,” he said. His vision included specific elements that he’d always dreamed of riding. “I wanted to make a superlong jump run, which we have built. It’s called Seventy-five Hits,” he said, in honor of the impressive number of jumps riders will fly over as they traverse the three-sectioned path.

Trail construction lasted four months, with a crew of twelve full-time trail builders and nearly a hundred volunteers moving dirt. Unlike nearby Spider Mountain, with its year-round chairlift, Station Mountain has a system of trailers and trucks to get riders to the action. “We have three shuttle trucks that each hold twenty-four bikes and people that drive you out from the bottom, all the way to the top,” Jones explained. Riders choose from trails that offer spiderwebs of flow (smooth, machined trails with berms and jumps) or others that are technical (hand-cut or natural trails that can be rocky and ridden slower). Before dropping in, they are soothed by beautiful Hill Country vistas in multiple directions. Though Jones is staying tight-lipped about any future additions to the park, he wants to use the early days of being open to hear from riders. “We’re going to fix so much after opening weekend,” he said, sharing that around 350 people visited in the first three days.  “If people don’t like that berm or that jump, we’re gonna go in and change, like, a hundred things.” 

For those who don’t want the fun to end, tent and RV camping are available at the park, and several vacation rentals are nearby. A food truck, slinging tacos, coffee, and drinks, will also be on-site for hungry riders who don’t want to venture into town between runs. Marble Falls is a short nine miles away for supplies or food, including three breweries (my son and I had lunch at Bear King Brewing after our session). While these extras are fun, Jones wants to keep his focus on the riding experience. “I want to make sure people enjoy the park, whether that’s through the amenities or through the trails. But for me, I definitely want to make sure that we have proper trails that are always maintained,” he said.

Obviously, mountain biking is alive and well in the region, but it still has more to do to catch up with the big dogs. “We have solid trips and people visit here, but it’s not like Arkansas . . . yet,” said Jones. While it seems unlikely that Central Texas’s mountain biking offerings will surpass those of Bentonville, the addition of Station Mountain further elevates a scene that was already on the rise. I asked Jones to share his five-to-ten-year vision. “Maybe I’ll have the world’s best bike park by then,” he said, “but for now I’m just focused on Station Mountain. This is my baby. It’s kind of crazy seeing this come to life. It’s awesome.”