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  1. #1
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    Bentonville / NWA

    I am new to the area and have been riding road bikes for a while but want to do some off road riding.
    Before buying a MTB I want to try out some trails with my Specialized AWOL and wondering if there are some simple gravel, dirt trails in the Bentonville area.

    Thanks
    2016 Specialized Rockhopper Sport
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  2. #2
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    Probably the easiest trail in the area is the dirt loop around Lake Fayetteville. Not too technical and not too much climbing. You may still find it tough on those skinny tires. You may also think about renting a mountain bike at Phat Tire in Bentonville and you can ride from the shop to the Smaughter Pen Trails.

    FWIW - I tried riding my hybrid bike on trails when I moved here and found it very difficult and not much fun. I bought a hardtail MTB 4 years ago and it changed my life (literally). Don't let your experience on your AWOL color how much fun you think you will have on a proper MTB.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endoismynamo View Post
    Probably the easiest trail in the area is the dirt loop around Lake Fayetteville. Not too technical and not too much climbing. You may still find it tough on those skinny tires. You may also think about renting a mountain bike at Phat Tire in Bentonville and you can ride from the shop to the Smaughter Pen Trails.

    FWIW - I tried riding my hybrid bike on trails when I moved here and found it very difficult and not much fun. I bought a hardtail MTB 4 years ago and it changed my life (literally). Don't let your experience on your AWOL color how much fun you think you will have on a proper MTB.
    Thanks, I was going to set up a set of whees for off road and swap them back and forth on my Awol but realized I can get a entry level MTB at that price.
    I may go with an entry level bike and see how I like it before going something expensive.
    2016 Specialized Rockhopper Sport
    2015 Specialized AWOL Comp

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    That's not a bad idea. I ride almost all of our trails on a $1200 hardtail and am only moving to a more expensive carbon full suspension after 4 years of feeding my addiction.

  5. #5
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    Hey ya'll,

    Checking in from Asheville, NC to get the low down on what yall got cooking out there in NW Arkansas...

    The wife and I are heading out mid-April for a riding vacation and we are stoked to visit your area. Ive read the articles, checked out the you tube videos and researched the trails pretty thoroughly. However I want to get the real dirt on what we should do once we arrive...

    The plan is hang out in yalls area for 8 days... riding, camping, trout fishing, chillaxing, and doing our best to sample not only the killer singletrack but also local restaurants, attractions, breweries, etc...

    I have never found "top 10 best blah blah blah" articles and lists to be helpful since they often over look the "real deal" spots. So I would really appreciate any advice/input on not only trails to ride but also the things we can do to make the most out of our vacation to yalls neck of the woods. So...

    Just a quick background... We live and ride in Asheville, NC in the heart of the Pisgah Nat'l forest. Our rides are typically 20-30 miles with 4000'-5000' of climbing with long descents (2-10min) and climbs. We are both technical riders (gap jumps, steep rocky gnar, etc) but also love to rip over flowy, IMBA style trail. We also are good southerners and love grits, livermush, Waylon Jennings, and corn liquor... all the things that make life worth living... haha

    1. Where are good camping areas to access the trails? USFS campgrounds, privately managed campgrounds, dirt pull offs, camping at the trail head? we will be camping the whole time in a truck, dirt bag style, so camping near the riding (preferably biking distance) would be awesome.

    2. What trails are a MUST ride in NW Arkansas. If you could only ride 10 trails the rest of your life there, what would they be and why? We arent going to ride everyday so packing the quality spots in would be great.

    3. Food and Booze... Where are good restaurants in Bentonville, Eureka Springs, etc. near the trail heads? Any "you have to eat brkfst/Dinner here!" type spots? Any breweries/distilleries worth checking out?

    4. Other stuff... Any good hikes or attractions worth visiting? I hear there is a Wal-Mart museum and that there are some pretty awesome waterfalls? Anyone recommend any good trout fishing locations? If you only had a week to spend in NW AR for the rest of your life, and you couldnt ride, where would you go?

    When we travel we like to immerse ourselves in a town/area. Get to know the locals and spend our $$ at locally owned businesses. Any good data on bike shops, outfitters, etc would be great...

    I know this is asking alot of you guys and any information (as much or as little) is greatly appreciated. Thanks again and I am stoked to visit you guys in a couple months!


    BTW... Can someone please send me the info on Coler Reserve. I couldnt find much online except you tube videos. That place looks like the cats pajamas and is definitely our type of riding... rocks, speed, FTW! haha

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Banjopickin; 02-21-2017 at 11:19 AM.

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    I can answer a few questions as I am from Kansas City but get down there several times a year.

    1. I don't usually camp but Devil's Den is a state park south of Bentonville that has a great trail (Fossil Flats is the name I believe) and camping available.

    2. My favorite trails are Mt Kessler, and the Back 40. There are trails at Hobbs that are pretty nice as well. Lincoln Lake has nice trails and is about 30 minutes or so west of Fayetteville.

    3. Hit the Tusk and Trotter as well as Bike Rack Brewing. You should track down the Big Rub Urban Eatery (food truck) for some BBQ tacos as well.

    4. Crystal Bridges is a good art museum to hit up as well (Slaughter Pen MTB trails are right there too). If you go during baseball season catch a NWA Naturals game (Royals minor league team).

    I like Phat Tire bike shop in Bentonville but would also like to get to The Handlebar in Fayetteville some time.

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  8. #8
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    You should also try to go to the Buffalo River area if you have time. This is a good camp ground...

    Steel Creek Recreation Area & Campground - Jasper - Arkansas Attractions

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post

    BTW... Can someone please send me the info on Coler Reserve. I couldnt find much online except you tube videos. That place looks like the cats pajamas and is definitely our type of riding... rocks, speed, FTW! haha

    Thanks!
    Phat Tire Bike Shop - NW Arkansas Bicycle Sales, Service, and Rentals - Bentonville shop will should have wavier, directions and info at the shop...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post
    ...Anyone recommend any good trout fishing locations? Thanks!
    I don't fish, but my neighbor fly fishes here below the Beaver Lake Dam. That will be close to Eurkea and Lake Leatherwood.

    Beaver Dam Store | Eureka Springs, Arkansas

    TRAILS - The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission

    CABIN & CAMPING PRICING - The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post
    Hey ya'll,

    Checking in from Asheville, NC to get the low down on what yall got cooking out there in NW Arkansas...

    2. What trails are a MUST ride in NW Arkansas. If you could only ride 10 trails the rest of your life there, what would they be and why? We arent going to ride everyday so packing the quality spots in would be great.

    3. Food and Booze... Where are good restaurants in Bentonville, Eureka Springs, etc. near the trail heads? Any "you have to eat brkfst/Dinner here!" type spots? Any breweries/distilleries worth checking out?
    I just got back from Bville, but i am from chicago. I am already trying to figure out when i can get back there. Excuse the spelling errors please

    Trails: i would not miss the Back 40 in Bella Vista and Mount Kessler in Fayetteville. The Ledges section at back 40 was an absolute blast. It is rocky, hilly, flowy, and hard. The rest of the back 40 is less rocky, but very flowy and extremely well maintained. Mt Kessler is very hilly and rocky. Almost backcountry-like. Very technical and not for the faint of heart. For this reason i didnt see any other riders there all day. Coler is cool but it was absolutely overrun with people when i was there and it is not done being built yet. If you like big drops, tabletops, or berms, you should hit up Coler. PM me if you havent gotten directions there yet. Leatherwood near Eureka springs was great, but not as good as back 40.

    Dining: pedalar's pub in Bentonville has excellent wood oven cooked pizza. The station cafe in bentonvill is great post-ride grub. Pressroom restaurant in bentinville was pretty good, more upscale dining. Interesting cocktails there. Scotch and Soda is a can't miss if you are a whiskey drinker. They have a limited dinner menu

    Coffee: onyx coffee lab and 211 cafe have some of the best coffee i have had in the US

    Bike shops: Phat tire is cool, but they are like any other Trek dealer in the country. Mojo cycling is an excellent shop,very friendly and helpful owner and staff. Not as big as Phat tire. The Bike route in Fayetteville is very cool. Lots of high end stuff there, very helpful staff. They had an entire padded suitcase full of 1.5" cannondale lefty specific stems to choose from. They mean business.

    Walmart museum was pretty depressing if you ask me. Different strokes, i guess.

    I really enjoyed staying close to the city center in an air bnb house because bville is very walkable and quite a charming small town. I dont know where any good camping is.

    Let me know if you want any more specific info, also check out thr other Bentonville thread. Have fun!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_joe View Post
    I just got back from Bville, but i am from chicago. I am already trying to figure out when i can get back there. Excuse the spelling errors please

    Trails: i would not miss the Back 40 in Bella Vista and Mount Kessler in Fayetteville. The Ledges section at back 40 was an absolute blast. It is rocky, hilly, flowy, and hard. The rest of the back 40 is less rocky, but very flowy and extremely well maintained. Mt Kessler is very hilly and rocky. Almost backcountry-like. Very technical and not for the faint of heart. For this reason i didnt see any other riders there all day. Coler is cool but it was absolutely overrun with people when i was there and it is not done being built yet. If you like big drops, tabletops, or berms, you should hit up Coler. PM me if you havent gotten directions there yet. Leatherwood near Eureka springs was great, but not as good as back 40.

    Dining: pedalar's pub in Bentonville has excellent wood oven cooked pizza. The station cafe in bentonvill is great post-ride grub. Pressroom restaurant in bentinville was pretty good, more upscale dining. Interesting cocktails there. Scotch and Soda is a can't miss if you are a whiskey drinker. They have a limited dinner menu

    Coffee: onyx coffee lab and 211 cafe have some of the best coffee i have had in the US

    Bike shops: Phat tire is cool, but they are like any other Trek dealer in the country. Mojo cycling is an excellent shop,very friendly and helpful owner and staff. Not as big as Phat tire. The Bike route in Fayetteville is very cool. Lots of high end stuff there, very helpful staff. They had an entire padded suitcase full of 1.5" cannondale lefty specific stems to choose from. They mean business.

    Walmart museum was pretty depressing if you ask me. Different strokes, i guess.

    I really enjoyed staying close to the city center in an air bnb house because bville is very walkable and quite a charming small town. I dont know where any good camping is.

    Let me know if you want any more specific info, also check out thr other Bentonville thread. Have fun!
    Yes where did you stay and was it bike friendly to store bikes inside?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbrain View Post
    Yes where did you stay and was it bike friendly to store bikes inside?
    I stayed in the one called "steps to downtown bentonville" listed for $129 hosted by Craig. There was an attached garage where we stored the bikes. There was also a backyard with lawn and garden hose that was great for washing bikes. Would definitely stay there again. It is located a couple blocks south of the bentonville city square.
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  15. #15
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    If you like art at all, don't miss the Crystal Bridges museum. Free!

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    So i will be in Bentonville Branson area for about 5 days at the end of April. I am looking to ride as much XC type stuff as possible and i have nailed down the trails that i want to hit up. the issue i have now is what bike. I have a scalpel or my fattie. the fattie is ridged and i can run 27.5+, 29+ or full 4.8 fat tires. i kinda want to bring the fat bike cause it climbs so well but i don't want to be totally under biked. also the traction is awesome for rock gardens and such. Let me know what you think. I won't rent and i am not hitting any of the bike park type stuff.

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    Plenty of people ride the stuff here on rigid fat bikes. Quite a few of our XC trails are very fast and flowy: berms, roller coaster esque rollers you can pump to not pedal up certain gradual climbs and have the potential to get small to large air just off of natural and erosion control features in the trail. However, there are very few trails where railing a berm is mandatory, there are a couple of optional lines I can think of that require this due to the approach being too steep and loose to brake on or that have mandatory air.

    I've never ridden a fat bike so I can't really tell you if you'd be over or under biked just try to give a depiction of the terrain.

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    I would say the fattie with 29+ would be good or the scalpel. I have seen several people out there on there on rigids that do fine. 29+ will roll over most of the rocks on xc type trails there. What trails are you going to ride?

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    Thanks for the info, i am looking to ride back 40, lake atalanta, Hobbs, buffalo headwaters. as much as possible. i am trying to find trails that are long enough that it makes sense to drive to them or a collection of shorter ones in the area. I am staying in Kimberling City MO so i will be driving no matter what. just dont want to drive a few hours one way for 5 miles of trail.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflinde View Post
    Thanks for the info, i am looking to ride back 40, lake atalanta, Hobbs, buffalo headwaters. as much as possible. i am trying to find trails that are long enough that it makes sense to drive to them or a collection of shorter ones in the area. I am staying in Kimberling City MO so i will be driving no matter what. just dont want to drive a few hours one way for 5 miles of trail.
    Lake Atalanta, other than Thunder Chicken, is probably the smallest trail system in the area. With the Back 40 you could add Slaughter Pen and Blowing Springs to pick up an additional ~30 miles.

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    How much trail is around the Mt Kesseler area? And i heard or read that the rock city is closed? is that true?

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    Or Lake Leatherwood instead of Lake Atalanta?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflinde View Post
    Or Lake Leatherwood instead of Lake Atalanta?
    I've actually never been to Kessler, I can ride to SP, BS, Coler, Back 40 from my house, so I don't know details there.

    Leatherwood has lots of trail but it is old school, fall line, rocky, rooty, gnarly trail.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflinde View Post
    How much trail is around the Mt Kesseler area? And i heard or read that the rock city is closed? is that true?
    Mt kessler is something like 10 miles of singletrack. It is (imo) quite technical and demanding. It was one of my favorite trails in the area. Unfortunately one of my buddies broke his arm there so we had to cut the ride short. https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/533...sler-full-tour

    Back 40/Ledges/Blowing Springs is an absolute must ride. Lake leather wood was a blast, too.
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    The_joe - thanks for the input. i think i will try to hit that up if it is open. on the link you provided it shows closed. can anyone confirm if it is still rideable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflinde View Post
    The_joe - thanks for the input. i think i will try to hit that up if it is open. on the link you provided it shows closed. can anyone confirm if it is still rideable?
    Hmm didnt even notice that, sorry bout that. If you cant find out, try calling this shop called "The Bike Route" in Fayetteville. They are very friendly and would likely know the status of the trails.
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    There is a really good thread in the "general" about arkansas. I sure you all have read it, but I just wanted to mention it. I would share a link, but my post count is at 5. As a newb, I feel really fortunate to live here in the middle of these trails!

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    Jefflinde- I agree with others that both Atalanta and Kessler are smaller areas. Also, I know multiple people who have broken limbs at Kessler, so just be aware that parts of it are very technical. I've only hiked it, but I recall thinking that parts of it would be very tough to MTB. If you want lots of mileage and great flow, hit Back 40 and you won't be disappointed. As for Leatherwood, I've only biked there once, but I really liked it. Some good climbs and very pretty. Hobbs is not technical, but some good loose climbs and perfect for either bike you mention.

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