Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Trail Review: Chonburi, Sriracha -- Khao Kheow Open Zoo

This trail is pretty well-known among weekend enthusiasts and easily accessible from Bangkok.

Location: Khao Kheow Zoo, Sriracha, Chonburi
Trail Distance: 14 kms.

In a nutshell: a short demanding uphill in asphalt road, a couple of quick rocky downhill sections, a long gentle downhill on a grassy doubletrack. signs and red tape mark the trail clearly.

This trail is perfect for a day trip, especially for you guys living in Bangkok. The site is just a little more than an hour away from the City of Angels via the Rama9-Motorway route. The course can be done in an hour, leaving you enough time to spend the rest of the day in Pattaya or Sriracha. Or a quick in-and-out at the course is also possible and you can be back in Bangkok by lunchtime.

The Open Zoo also offer a few hours of activity, giving a good opportunity to commune with our fur-covered friends. Some animals are so friendly, they could be fed them out of your hands. Choose wisely which ones though and here I recommend just the deers and giraffes, as some carnivore types would rather feed on your hand not out of them.

Jump-off point
The trail starts in front of the Sriracha Khao Kheow Open Zoo. There is a small clearing in front of the zoo in which you could leave your car for no charge, or you could enter into the zoo and park inside if you are wiling to shell out for the admission rates in exchange for the added security (70 bahts each and 50 bahts for the car).

Uphill Section
Riding through the zoo, follow a blacktop road up to the Zoo Training Center. This leads to a short 2km uphill inclined 20° which will test your endurance and leave you gasping for breath. After a couple of hairpin turns, you will encounter a small dirt road on the right side leading away from the asphalt road. This is where we get off.

This leads to a upward sloping doubletrack
until you get to the crest of the hill. You know you're there since you get to see a nice view of the surrounding hills all the way to Sriracha bay. A fork appears at the crest. Take the left one. You could stop for awhile to admire the view. Yey! Its all downhill from this point on.

Downhill section
From the hill crest, the left fork leads to a rocky downhill path. Do not go all out yet ... there is a nasty rain rut at the bottom of the section. Besides, this section is too rocky. The rain rut is so huge it covers the entire span of the trail. Not a bad idea to walk through this part. If you want to brave it through, then follow a line to the left side of the trail. There are a couple of these ruts in this section.

After these two gaping holes, its smooth downhill from here. The trail is smooth and sloped slightly downwards. Really easygoing. Tall grasses edge both sides of the doubletrack. Keep your head tucked in shielding your face a little bit from getting scratched. The grasses can be really long and awry especially during the rainy months.

At the foot of the hill, you will arrive into another asphalt road, signifying the end of the off-road part of the trail.

The road cuts through the Khao Kheow golf course and following it eventually will lead you out the front gate of the golf course. Turn right at the golf course front gate and this will get you back to the Zoo main entrance.

The course is a relatively short 14 kilometers. First part is a bit of a drag and you need to grit your teeth climbing up the hill as it is both steep and long. Your quadriceps will really burn in this stretch.

After the uphill section, the course is a breeze and an enjoyable one. Scenery is just gorgeous and made sweeter as you can give your legs a bit of a rest by freewheeling at most times. You could even go two rounds if you still have enough gas to climb one more go. Or you can just hang out in the park afterwards, relax, go pet some deers and make fun of the monkeys.

How to Get There
Get into the Expressway heading into the Rama 9 interchange or you could take the Bangna elevated tollway. Slip into the Motorway heading into Chonburi and go all the way to the end, joining with Road 36. At this point, watch your odometer as it is just 10 kilometers away before you hit the junction going into the Open Zoo. Watch for a big billboard to guide as you can hardly miss it. Follow the winding country road and it will lead you to the Zoo front gate.



Bruised Knee said...

15/01/2007: Sorry guys. This trail can no longer be used.

Somebody bragged in ThaiMTB that this trail is a backdoor to the Khao Kheow Open Zoo and that it can get you in without passing the Park gates at the Front. This has offended the Park officials and has asked the private property owners to close off the trail.


Ryan said...

is this still the case?

Anonymous said...

I ride though KK Zoo at least twice a week and I regularly use this trail.

I have NEVER been asked to pay an entrance fee riding through the zoo and in anycase, the back entrance to the zoo (above the golf course) is open 8am to 8-m with nobody collecting tickets.

When it is not open the side gate is usually unlocked or you can simply pass between the gate and the side of the road.

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