A short 550 mile drive from Austin, TX to Bentonville, AR, it was time for a recon trip to see what this new hot spot with miles of flowy single track is all about. In a short two years, Northwest Arkansas has risen to a destination spot for riders from near far. Part of this rise is due to the IMBA World Summit in 2016 which produced articles, videos, reviews, and images of the trail network in Arkansas not seen before. With trails approaching 200 miles and close to 100 additional miles planned, we had to see it for ourselves, for a Bentonville First Look.
For our first look at the Bentonville Trails, we opted to stay in a central location for easy access to all of the trails in the area, which were not more than 15 minutes away in any direction. Weather forecast for this trip was not looking good. Heavy storms rolled in the first night we were there dumping 12 inches of rain over night. We paid the Phat Tire Bike Shop in downtown Bentonville a visit for some trail advice before heading out for our first day of riding. We took the advice of the shop on what trails would be running best after a large rain storm, which are the Back 40.
With the GoPro rolling, we launched from the Blowing Springs parking lot with a warmup on the Blowing Springs Loop. The first thing we noticed, is the trail signage is very good. Routed brushed aluminum trail signs mounted to 4×4 built to last. Buff flowy single track with some of the technical rock like we have here in Austin is what we found. A few rock drops sprinkled here and there throughout this loop, we were hooked, and ready for more. Next up was the Back 40 Loop trail which took us to The Ledges. Plenty of technical rock features here with fully exposed rock ledges along the side of a steep hill. Now we know why it’s called The Ledges. Back to the Back 40 Trail next, cruise over to Taylor Homestead and then to SBAT.
Looking for that downhill flow, Flo Ride was up next. This was a one-way downhill only segment running North to South originating off of the Back 40 loop. One common feature of this trail network is there is a berm at every corner and rollers placed where you need the flow the most.
Where to eat? Pedaler’s Pub, located in downtown Bentonville, was at the top of the list for recommendations, so, we had to check it out. We were greeted with a large abstract bike art mural on the side of the Pedaler’s building. This was a good sign. Great atmosphere and back patio. Apps, beers, great specials and dinner were just the right fuel for this ride trip. Keep an eye out for RideStoke stickers at the back of the bar and the Bentonville IPA is highly recommended. We’ll be back here again soon.
Slaughter Pen trails on day two did not disappoint, with the trail head location right in town. The All American trail was up first, packed with ladders, berms, rollers, skinnies, and wood features. This, closely parallel to the walking trail. Medusa Trail was up next, and to our surprise, once again, wooden features were sprinkled throughout the trail network. This really was an added bonus, as we were getting miles on some solid single track and looking forward to the next feature. Looking forward to the Downhill Flow Trail, Medusa lead us right to it. The Downhill Flow Trail was complete with large berms, tables, step-ups, and a few large wall rides. The Karma Grip came in handy when we couldn’t help but session the wall six or so times. Tatamagouche brought us back out, hitting so many features on the way, and ending in the park where we found the more tables, berms, jumps, and the triple drop. This set of drops is designed to allow the rider to progress from small to large, allowing the rider to send it as far as possible into a generous landing transition.
Coler Preserve Trails
Hoping the trails had dried out enough, Coler Preserve Trails were in order for the third day. This location is ideal for a good session, with a few climb trails leading to the Hub at the top, and several trails prime to shred on the way down. During our visit, construction on the large steel and wood feature called The Hub, was in process. The builders were just finishing up on the wood deck as we watched. Cannot wait to hit this one next time. With the dirt running slow due to the heavy rains a few days ago, we hit Oscar’s Loop and Fireline trails first. Oscar’s turned out to be smooth single track with berms as just about every corner. The Cease and Desist trail was running slow for this trip, and the remaining trails were far too wet from the rains. It looks like we’ll need to come back.
Knolly Warden C. Trail Sign at The Hub, Coler Preserve Trails
The Rail Yard
The Rail Yard Bike Park was closed due to the large storm that passed through during our first night. This place looks fun and bringing more bikes may be in order.
The bike culture, quality of trails and trail accessibility of North West Arkansas makes Bentonville a must do destination. The confident from the Mountain Bike Community was elevated to a whole new level when IMBA held their annual summit in November. Launching from the downtown square of Bentonville can link up more than thirty miles of professionally designed and built single track. North West Arkansas resides ~1400 feet above sea level in the Ozark Mountains, making acclimation to elevation quick when driving in from Austin. Time to plan another ride trip.