Where to make base camp in Arkansas?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Where to make base camp in Arkansas?

    Trying to plan an annual guys mountain bike trip to Arkansas. None of us have ever ridden there. We are looking for epic cross country trails. We have done everything from Sun Valley to Moab to Durango to Park City to Tahoe and so on, but no one in our group knows anything about Arkansas.

    We need to figure out where to fly in and out of, and maybe where to make a home base for renting a house. We will probably do 4 days of riding, so we need to be efficient with our time and travel. We are willing to drive reasonable distances, but want to spend more time riding than driving if you know what I mean. What regions should we focus on? If we were to rent a house in one location for the duration of the trip, where makes sense? Any tips/suggestions are most appreciated!

  2. #2
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    If you are looking for epic backwoods type rides stay near the Womble or LoVit trails about 3 hours south of Bentonville. I would guess flying into Little Rock or Ft Smith might make the most sense. I just drive down as I am in KC.

    If you want to jump to several different trails each day stay in Bentonville and ride Slaughter Pen, Back 40 (can be epic as its 40 miles of trail but not backwoods), Coler, Mt Sequoyah, Kessler, Hobbs, Devils Den, Lake Leatherwood, Lincoln Lake, Upper Buffalo Headwaters.

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    All of the above post is spot on


    I will say that while the “epic” (and they are both IMBA epic rides) trails above will be awesome and best fit what you requested in your post, you’re not really going to experience much, if any, of the trail development that is really creating all the Arkansas buzz right now. Most of it is focused on the NWA urban corridor and weaves in and out of various communities here. Definitely not backcountry, but also lots of feature filled trails offering a lot of variety.

    All that being said, If you’re wanting backcountry long rides, your best bets will be Womble and LovIt which are in same vicinity. Hot Springs would be your base camp. If those don’t offer enough, then your next closest epic ride would be the Buffalo Headwaters.

  4. #4
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    Both trails (Womble and LOViT) have good mtbproject entries. It looks like there is a resort called Echo Canyon that caters to the MTB crowd and will help with shuttling (trails are 35-40 miles one way, so would indeed be epic if you're going to out and back them instead of shuttling).

    LOViT

    Womble


    Or if you want to get nutty you can do the 104 mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hogfly View Post
    All of the above post is spot on
    I will say that while the “epic” (and they are both IMBA epic rides) trails above will be awesome and best fit what you requested in your post, you’re not really going to experience much, if any, of the trail development that is really creating all the Arkansas buzz right now. Most of it is focused on the NWA urban corridor and weaves in and out of various communities here. Definitely not backcountry, but also lots of feature filled trails offering a lot of variety.

    All that being said, If you’re wanting backcountry long rides, your best bets will be Womble and LovIt which are in same vicinity. Hot Springs would be your base camp. If those don’t offer enough, then your next closest epic ride would be the Buffalo Headwaters.
    Thanks Hogfly..."NWA" as in northwest area? Would you suggest that area first and foremost? I guess at the end of the day we just want to hit some really good trails and have fun.

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    NWA = NorthWest Arkansas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahoe Gator View Post
    Thanks Hogfly..."NWA" as in northwest area? Would you suggest that area first and foremost? I guess at the end of the day we just want to hit some really good trails and have fun.
    I think if you're wanting to camp and feel like you're out in nature (like a backpacking experience), then the Hot Springs epic trails may be your best bet. If you're wanting to hit a huge variety of trails and trail networks with the "longest" being the 23 mile loop of the Back40 and also to be able to hit breweries, restaurants, and other amenities, then NWA (Northwest Arkansas) is your best bet.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahoe Gator View Post
    Thanks Hogfly..."NWA" as in northwest area? Would you suggest that area first and foremost? I guess at the end of the day we just want to hit some really good trails and have fun.
    NWA = huge variety and civilization. Lots of man made stuff, but still plenty of traditional xc especially if you're willing to drive up to an hour or so.

    Southwestern Arkansas = Singletrack in remote locations. You can ride 30 miles one way for example, and may not see another rider. Last time I rode the womble I found a nice crystal and we happened to ride directly under a huge eagle nest.

    There's also some extremely technical and even more remote trails along with 1000'+ climbs and descents just across the border near big cedar oklahoma, but I do not recommend riding there without a guide though.

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    I don’t have too much to add to the above because the other folks pretty much summed it up. However, I will say that within the Bentonville area, you will find the longest XC routes on the Back 40 in Bella Vista and I happen to have a rental home that is 1 mile from the Back 40 and Blowing Springs (BS has some great little loops with a bit of everything) and it is on a lake if you want to kayak or fish at the end of the day. If you are interested, here is the link: https://t.hmwy.io/IPxCVi99TP
    If you do stay in the Bentonville area, definitely spend a day at the Upper Buffalo. That is super remote and the riding is a legit challenge. You could do one day there and one day on the Back 40 to get your fill of big days in the saddle and then you could top off your trip with playing around on all the fun stuff that has been built in the Bentonville/Rogers/Fayetteville area (Slaughter Pen, Coler Preserve, Hobbs SP, Mt. Kessler, Railyard bike park etc.).

  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone for the advice!

    We've picked Bella Vista (Bentonville) for HQ. Any local bike shops around there you'd recommend for rentals and/or shipping our bikes to/from, etc?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahoe Gator View Post
    Thanks everyone for the advice!

    We've picked Bella Vista (Bentonville) for HQ. Any local bike shops around there you'd recommend for rentals and/or shipping our bikes to/from, etc?
    Phat Tire is the most full service bike shop in Bentonville, and it has several locations in the region. It's a good, modern bike shop located in downtown. Trek, Santa Cruz, and Salsa.

    Mojo Cycling is also a great shop that focuses pretty heavy on the enduro bros, carrying Evil, Ibis, Orbea, Transition, Intense, Canfield and lots of sweet custom builds.

    You also have Highroller in Rogers which is a really nice new store there and one of the oldest, longest running stores at their Fayetteville location. Specialized and Pivot, I believe.

    There are some great AirBNBs located on the trails if you're interested in going that route. Camping, currently, is limited to Blowing Springs which is really intended for RVs but has some tent spots. Can't beat the destination, since it's right on the Blowing Springs/Back40 system. Camping is coming to Coler Mountain Bike Preserve soon as well, but I'm not sure how soon you all are planning this trip.

    Here's a little article to whet the appetite and also give you some insight into the area that just dropped today:
    https://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.o...ve-set-to-soar

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