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ROAD CYCLING GUIDE The ride is only the beginning

GREAT RIDES O MAJOR TRAILS O CLASSIC CLIMBS O GRAND TOURS


You can ride with us. Arkansas, The Natural State, is the natural place to enjoy beautiful routes, varied scenery and plenty of out-of-the-saddle fun. We’ve got flat Delta stretches, challenging mountain climbs and everything in between. Arkansas is home to six Bicycle Friendly Communities (as designated by The League of American Cyclists) – Bentonville, Benton and Washington Counties, Conway, Fayetteville, Little Rock and North Little Rock – as well as cities and towns across the state that welcome you to join in on group rides and invite you to share a cold one afterward. Our five International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic trails may get all the glory, but we’ve got road rides to fill a lifetime. So, come on, clip in, and let’s get going.


INSIDE THE GUIDE MAP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3 GREAT RIDES . . . . . . . . . 4-19 Scott-England Harper’s Loop Hot Springs Loop Tour of Columbia County WInslow Death March Loop Jasper Disaster Batesville-Ozark Loop Sunken Lands Cultural Roadway Delta Shotgun Ride

MAJOR TRAILS . . . . . . . 20-31 Razorback Regional Greenway Arkansas River Trail Delta Heritage Trail

CLASSIC CLIMBS . . . . . 32-37 Mount Magazine Wye Mountain Rich Mountain Petit Jean Mountain MOunt Nebo

GRAND TOURS . . . . . . 38-43 Little Rock to Memphis Riding the Ridge Four-Lake Loop

EVENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 RESOURCES . . . . . . . . . . . 45

Arkansas River Trail, Little Rock


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great rides

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Jasper Disaster Batesville-Ozark Loop Sunken Lands Cultural Roadway Delta Shotgun Ride

Razorback Regional Greenway Arkansas River Trail Delta Heritage Trail

Classic Climbs

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Arkansas Welcome Center Interstate Highway Arkansas State Highway Arkansas State Road

Little Rock to Memphis Tour Riding the Ridge Four-Lake Loop

Difficulty Levels

These ratings are listed on rides throughout the book.

EASY

Mostly flat ride of a comparatively shorter distance (20-40 miles). Ideal for beginners.

MODERATE

Rolling terrain and medium distance (40-60 miles) route that involves some climbing with shorter grades. Great for active cyclists.

DIFFICULT

Lengthier distances (60+ miles) and challenging climbs at gradients steeper than 6% for extended periods. Intended for cyclists with bike-handling skills and higher fitness levels.

3


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G R E AT R I D E S

HARPER’S LOOP 1 EASY-Moderate

37 MILES

ROAD

A classic LITTLE ROCK group ride is Harper’s Loop, an easy out-and-back that breezes by some of the state’s finest farmland. Rows and rows of cotton, corn, rice and soybeans line the road on this flat ride. From NORTH LITTLE ROCK, start at the submarine at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, and follow the signs for Harper’s Loop along the Arkansas River Trail to Hwy. 161. From there, travel a few miles south, and enjoy a beautiful stretch of riding under the shade of century-old pecan trees. Ride

Toltec Mounds archeological State Park, Scott

approximately eight miles east on Hwy. 232 (Walter Estes Road), and stop for a slice of homemade pie at Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets in KEO. (Who knows? Pie watts could become a thing.) Head back the way you came, or ride north on Hwy. 165 to SCOTT. Some interesting stops here include Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, a

Morris Antiques, Keo

Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets, Keo

National Historic Landmark that preserves Native American mounds and is now one of the largest archeological sites in the lower Mississippi River Valley, and Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park and its old Dortch cotton gin and seed warehouse. Plantation agriculture museum, scott Great Rides 5


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G R E AT R I D E S

2

HOT SPRINGS LOOP Moderate-difficult

51 MILES

ROAD

This loop cuts through historic Hot Springs National Park and meanders through the scenic Ouachita Mountains. Start at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Central Avenue. Travel north on Central Avenue (Scenic Hwy. 7) to Hwy. 5. About 20 miles in, turn right on Narrows Road and follow it to Hwy. 70 (Grand Avenue). There is a drive-in with ice cream about one mile east on Hwy. 70. Return back by riding west on the shoulder of Hwy. 70, then turn right on Hwy. 128,

Hot Springs National Park

and after about five miles, turn left onto scenic Mill Creek Road at the church. This will take you past Magic Springs Water and Theme Park, over Hwy. 70, onto Spring Street, then back to Grand Avenue. After a day of riding, you’ve come to the right place to rest your legs. Schedule a massage at one of two bathhouses in

Garvan woodland Gardens

operation on Bathhouse Row, then have a cold one at Superior Bathhouse Brewery, the nation’s first brewery located in a national park.

QUapaw Baths

Superior Bathhouse brewery Great Rides 7


G R E AT R I D E S

TOUR OF COLUMBIA COUNTY Moderate

65 MILES

3

ROAD

This route passes by two of the oldest country stores in the tri-state region. Leave MAGNOLIA on Hwy. 19 S. Take it to WALKERVILLE. Turn left on Hwy. 98 through EMERSON, ATLANTA, VILLAGE and MCNEIL to County Road 13. Turn left on County Road 13 and travel back to PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Races, Emerson

Magnolia. Expect light traffic. Interesting sights along the way are the Magnolia Murals, featuring six colorful pieces of public art located on the historic square. This area is also known for its festivals, including the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-off; the PurpleHull Pea Festival and World Championship Rotary Tiller Races in

Logoly State Park, McNeil

Emerson; and the Festival on the Rails and Pork Chop Cook-off in McNeil. Also in McNeil is Logoly State Park with group tent campsites, a bathhouse, picnic sites, trails and nature exhibits.

Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak cook-off, Magnolia

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9


G R E AT R I D E S

WINSLOW DEATH MARCH LOOP difficult

61 MILES

4

ROAD

With its steep ramps, multiple switchbacks, fast descents and glorious views, this difficult route is a proper introduction to the Ozarks. From the name alone, you can expect to do work. Beginning at Baum Stadium in FAYETTEVILLE, it takes you through HOGEYE, up the Strickler climb (a one-mile, 190-foot uptick), then on to Devil’s Den State Park, a popular place to hike and camp. It’s also a good spot to stop for a bathroom break and to refill bidons before the official start of the “death march.” From here, roll out onto Hwy. 74 to encounter the brutal series of switchbacks. If it seems pro, that’s because it is: this route actually contains portions of the 23-mile loop (with more than 1,500 feet of climbing per lap) used in the 115-mile men’s pro elite course during the Joe Martin Stage Race in April. Continue on Hwy. 74 for 11 miles to WINSLOW. This section is more rolling and rewards you with a beautiful view over I-49. From Winslow, take a left on Hwy. 71. There’s a gas station here if you need to stop. Head north for 20 miles back to Fayetteville, a Bicycle Friendly Community with a great cycling scene. Bike shops can help with any questions and direct you to group rides and other routes around town. Hit the Fayetteville Ale Trail for a couple of cold, post-ride pints at local craft breweries.

Fayetteville

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Devil’s Den State Park, West Fork


G r av e l G r i n d e r s

at a glance

Low Gap Loop just south of Fayetteville 40 miles 2,600 feet of elevation

Peak of the ride: Shaeffer Road, a fun three-mile stretch of gravel

Hazel Valley Grand Prix Loop Hazel Valley 55 miles 6,400 feet of elevation

Peak of the ride: The view atop the White Rock Mountain Climb

Savoy Loop Fayetteville 36 miles 1,600 feet of elevation

Peak of the ride: Scenic without being too far from civilization

Wallin Mountain Loop Fayetteville 30 miles 2,800 feet of elevation

Peak of the ride: Convenient ride from College Avenue when chasing daylight

Woolsey Loop Fayetteville 45 miles 2,000 feet of elevation

Peak of the ride: Three good stretches of gravel with one solid three-mile climb

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G R E AT R I D E S

JASPER DISASTER 5 difficult

62 MILES

ROAD

There’s a reason it’s called the Jasper Disaster. Mile for mile, this Ozark route is one of the most difficult in the state, with some 316 turns in 56 miles. But there’s a trade-off, because it’s also one of the most beautiful rides you’ll ever experience, with jaw-dropping views from scenic overlooks and multiple chances for wildlife sightings, including the famous elk herd in Boxley Valley. Beginning in HARRISON, take Scenic Byway 7 south

Buffalo National River

18 miles to JASPER. From Jasper, travel west on Hwy. 74 to PONCA. Turn right on Hwy. 43, and ride north toward Harrison. There are gas stations in Harrison, Jasper and Ponca for snacks and cold drinks. The route is extremely steep and strenuous but also very rewarding. With cabins, campsites and canoe outfitters in the area, make a weekend out of it, and plan a float

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Jasper

trip on the Buffalo National River.

Hotel Seville, Harrison Great Rides 13


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G R E AT R I D E S

BATESVILLEOZARK LOOP 6

Moderate

21 MILES

ROAD

Beautiful rolling hills are the hallmark of this 21-mile route. Wide shoulders and light traffic make it a popular ride in these parts. Starting in BATESVILLE, hometown of Mark Martin, who found success racing on four wheels, hit North Central Avenue (Hwy. 69), and travel north for almost nine miles. You’ll turn left onto Hwy. 106 and follow it to mile 14 where Hwy. 106 cuts left and takes you east back to Batesville. One of the “100 Best Small Towns in America,” Batesville

Mark Martin Museum, Batesville

honors its local hero at the Mark Martin Museum, a worthy stop for NASCAR fans and casual enthusiasts alike. View his cars, trophies, uniforms and other classic racing relics. Located on the shores of the White River, there are many scenic spots for camping and RV-ing in and around Batesville. Fishing and guide services

white River

Batesville-Ozark Loop

are available if you have time to get out on this world-famous stream. Several record-breaking brown and rainbow trout have been hooked on the Upper White.

Josie’s Steakhouse, Batesville Great Rides 15


“a Painted House,” Lepanto

County Road 243

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Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, Dyess

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Tyronza


G R E AT R I D E S

SUNKEN LANDS CULTURAL ROADWAY

7 EASY-Moderate

52 MILES

mixed terrain

Bordered by two national scenic byways – Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Great River Road – this route is used for the annual Tour duh Sunken Lands Cultural Bike Ride in November. What makes this ride special are the stopovers. Take your time through these small towns, stopping often to see the sights. Starting in TYRONZA, home of the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, head north to MARKED TREE and then onto LEPANTO, where you’ll pass by “A Painted House,” featured in the TV movie based on the best-selling novel by John Grisham. Continue on to DYESS, the site of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. Tours run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and begin in the Dyess Colony Administration Building. You can view these exhibits at your own pace. The guided tour of the home, fully restored and furnished as it would have appeared when the Cash family lived there, takes about 30 minutes to complete. Then it’s back on the bike and on to WILSON, where Hampson Archeological Museum State Park preserves the excavated ruins of the Nodena Native American Village (1400-1650 AD). The ride finishes up at Tyboogie’s Café in Tyronza for barbecue ribs, burgers or pizza. Great Rides 17


G R E AT R I D E S

DELTA SHOTGUN RIDE

EASY-Moderate

46 MILES

8 mixed terrain

Rolling out from Delta Resort and Spa near TILLAR, this is a mixed terrain route with flat roads and fun stretches of gravel. Head north on Hwy. 71 and follow it for about five miles to Hilburn Lane. Continue north on Hilburn Lane/Hwy. 71, then turn right onto Hwy. 138 at Richland Baptist Church. You’ll pass a couple of small bayous on this stretch of pastoral farmland. Turn right onto Hwy. 515, and head south to ROHWER, the site of the Japanese-American Relocation Center where as many as 8,000 JapaneseAmericans were incarcerated during WWII. The WWII Japanese-American Internment Museum is located nearby in MCGEHEE. From Rohwer, continue south on Hwy. 43 on Red Fork Bayou Road for about 14 miles to ARKANSAS CITY where the Choctaw Wildlife Management Area covers 8,300 acres. From the saddle, you could see deer, squirrel, turkey and other critters. A worthy detour on Hwy. 4 is Hoots BBQ and Steaks in McGehee. Arriving back at Delta Resort and Spa, be sure to stay awhile with accommodations and activities, like skeet shooting, designed for outdoor enthusiasts. 18 Arkansas.com/bicycling


Delta Heritage Trail on the Mississippi River

Hoots BBQ and Steaks, McGehee

COurthouse in Arkansas CIty

Japanese-American Relocation Center, ROhwer Great Rides 19


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major trails

RAZORBACK REGIONAL GREENWAY easy

36 MILES

21


Planned for more than 20 years, the

The chancelloR Hotel, Fayetteville

Razorback Regional Greenway is now a reality. This 36-mile, primarily off-road, shared-use trail connects six different downtowns, arts and entertainment districts, shopping, the University of Arkansas campus, playgrounds and

Inn at the Mill, Johnson

neighborhoods. It’s a great, mellow ride suitable for all skill levels. Lots of on the eyes. The trail itself has several spurs for easy access and exit, while the surface is skinny-tire friendly and striped for both directions of traffic. Solid and dashed lines identify safe passing areas, and the engineers thoughtfully put sections of the trail over nearby creeks to give riders scenery to ogle while pedaling. Engineers also put great thought into road crossings – they’re well marked or routed over, under or around roads where possible. Drivers here are used to bicyclists and give them plenty of space. And there are many

Razorback Regional Greenway

bridges and open spaces make it easy

Holiday Inn, Springdale

21C Museum Hotel, Bentonville

STAY...

facilities nearby, from bike shops to gas

Bentonville:

stations and convenience stores for those

• Mojo Cycling • Phat Tire Bike Shop

PIT STOPS

unforeseen circumstances.

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Fayetteville: • • • • •

Good Bikes The Handle Bar Highroller Cyclery Lewis & Clark Outfitters Phat Tire Bike Shop

Rogers: • • • • •

Boston Mountain Cycles GPP Cyclery Highroller Cyclery Lewis & Clark Outfitters Ozark Bicycle Service

Springdale: • Lewis & Clark Outfitters • Springdale Bicycle


SEE ... Starting in FAYETTEVILLE, you can hit the Dickson Street Entertainment District, Walton Arts Center and Headquarters House Museum and Garden, which saw action during the Civil War. There’s lots of great dining, the cultural offerings of a major university town and proximity to the beautiful Ozark Mountains. SPRINGDALE is home to a minor league baseball park, Shiloh House Museum just off the square, the Rodeo of the Ozarks every June and great coffee and beer purveyors. Located on the old Butterfield Stagecoach Line, LOWELL is home to one of the country’s largest trucking companies. Nearby, ROGERS’ Old Downtown features the Daisy Airgun Museum, quaint shops and great restaurants. BENTONVILLE’S Town Square is a delight and just a stone’s throw from the Scott Family Amazeum, Walmart Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art with some of its collection right on the trail and bike racks when you’re ready to step inside and see more. The trail ends near Lake Bella Vista, but the good times are just beginning.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

Bike Rack Brewing Co., Bentonville

Arvest Park, Springdale

Farmer’s Table Cafe, Fayetteville

Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, Rogers Major Trails 23


major trails

ARKANSAS RIVER TRAIL EASY-Moderate

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16-88 MILES

10


25


A trail that crosses something called the Big Dam Bridge has got to be fun, and this one is. Besides the BDB – the longest bridge in the world designed and built specifically for bikes and walkers – the Arkansas River Trail also crosses the Clinton Library Bridge, Junction Bridge and Two Rivers Bridge. The trail winds through the metropolitan areas of LITTLE ROCK and NORTH LITTLE ROCK, connecting 38 parks, six museums and more than 5,000 acres of federal, state and local parkland. Voted “Best Bike Trail in the South” by AAA Travel South Magazine, the River Trail offers up loops from 16 to

Arkansas river trail

STAY... Downtown LITTLE ROCK: Courtyard by Marriott Hampton Inn & Suites Holiday Inn Presidential

SEE... Being in the middle of Arkansas’s capital city, the River Trail offers plenty to see and do on and off the bike. The River Market District, right on the trail’s eastern starting point, is home to hotels, restaurants, music venues, a theater, shops, seasonal farmers market, breweries and brewpubs. It’s also where you’ll find the Clinton Presidential Center

Wyndham Riverfront Little Rock, North Little Rock

and Park, Heifer International, the Central Arkansas Nature Center and Museum of Discovery, all within a few blocks of each other. Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library and Little Rock Visitors Center are nearby and are great resources for sightseers and locals alike. The downtown area is a

The Capital Hotel, Little Rock

neighborhood, too, with loft apartments, condos, churches and, best of all, bike lanes. It’s a popular place to pedal or stroll, so take your time and check it out.

The Empress B&B, Little Rock

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88 miles. There are multiple access points with easy parking and several

PIT STOPS Little Rock:

fix-it stations along the route. The trail is shared by bikers, walkers, runners and

• Bobby’s Bike Hike • spokes Little Rock

wildlife and offers dozens of recreation

North Little Rock

areas and other attractions.

• Angry Dave’s • NLR Bicycles

bill clinton presidential center and park, Little rock

SOMA District, Little Rock

Rebel Kettle, Little rock

Emerald Park, North Little Rock Major Trails 27


major trails

DELTA HERITAGE TRAIL easy

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21

MILES (at present)


29 11


Delta Heritage Trail It’s a trail! It’s a state park! It’s both! When the Delta Heritage Trail is finished,

SEE...

it will stretch almost 100 miles through Southeast Arkansas. Part of the national rails-to-trails initiative, the trail’s crushed limestone bed leads through a shaded canopy of native hardwoods, alongside agricultural fields and across streams. It’s a super chill ride that’s good for all ages and experience levels. The northern terminus is at Delta Heritage Trail State Park near LEXA. The visitors center, just south in BARTON, has a gift shop, trail maps, restrooms, picnic sites and bike rentals. The state park also features campsites and interpretive programs. Passing through a diverse array of ecosystems, the trail affords great wildlife and bird watching. Upon completion, it will offer sweeping views from bridges spanning the Arkansas and White rivers. The ancient bottomland hardwood forests that the trail passes through are among the last remaining examples of wetland forests in the country.

Delta Resort and Spa, near mcgehee The Empress B&B, Little Rock

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STAY... Pendleton: Pendleton Bend Recreation Area & Campground

Brinkley: Ivory Billed Duck Hunters Lodge

Edwardian Inn, Helena-west helena


Helena-West Helena • Hibbett Sports • Walmart Supercenter

PIT STOPS

Delta Heritage Center, Helena-West Helena

King Biscuit Blues Festival, Helena-west helena

Jones Bar-B-Q diner, Marianna

Fort Curtis, Helena-west helena

The Arkansas Delta … the food, the music, the pace, the people. It’s a way of living that rewards those who take the time to discover it. At the Delta Cultural Center in HELENA-WEST HELENA, you can watch and listen to a live broadcast of “King Biscuit Time,” the longest-running blues radio program in the country. On the opposite end of the finished trail sits historic ARKANSAS CITY, home to the Old Opera House, the historic courthouse and 1800s store buildings. Just up the road is the JapaneseAmerican Internment Museum in MCGEHEE, which bears witness to a dark chapter of U.S. history. And in between, you’ll find small towns, wide-open farmlands and hardwood bottoms that make pedaling a whole lot more fun. Major Trails 31


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c l as s i c c l i m b s

MOUNT MAGAZINE 12 difficult

57 MILES

start elevation

386 Ft

max elevation

2,634 Ft

gain

3,894 Ft

Elevation map courtesy of MapMyRide.com

The state’s highest peak, Mount Magazine near PARIS, has been likened to a Tour de France climb and was named the climb to do in Arkansas by Bicycling magazine. Needless to say, it tops our list of classic climbs for its stellar views, switchbacks, steep grades and that nine-mile pitch to the top. Starting in Havana on Hwy. 309 (Mount Magazine Scenic Byway), the 60-mile Mount Magazine Loop ascends the south side. The first two miles at 380 feet are fairly pedestrian, but the route quickly reveals its true nature as it rises some 2,200 feet out of the Petit Jean Valley. There are three long hills, each exceeding a mile in length with grades steeper than eight percent. Ouch. But, dig in, because those upticks are merely a set-up for the final 4.5-mile climb. The sign at the summit on Signal Hill is a welcome sight and a proper photo op. The Mount Magazine State Park visitor center is a good place for a cold Coca-Cola and brief respite before another two rolling miles to the Lodge at Mount Magazine. Featuring some of the finest accommodations in the state park system, it’s a fantastic overnighter and great reward for your effort. Descending on the north side of the mountain, you can do 40 mph easily. Turn left onto Hwy. 109 and travel through the town of MAGAZINE, then make another left on Hwy. 10 toward HAVANA. The most traffic you will see will be on Hwy. 10 before turning back onto Hwy. 309. classic climbs 33


c l as s i c c l i m b s

WYE MOUNTAIN LOOP difficult

37 MILES

start elevation

335 Ft

max elevation

834 Ft

13

gain

883 Ft

Elevation map courtesy of MapMyRide.com

Beautiful lake views, gentle rollers and a heart-pounding hill climb await you on the 37-mile Lake Maumelle Loop, one of the best tours of Central Arkansas and one of the best ways to experience Wye Mountain. A scenic ride year-round, it’s particularly pretty in the springtime when the daffodils are in bloom. Starting at Pinnacle Mountain State Park on Hwy. 300, take Barrett Road across from the picnic area entrance, then turn right onto Hwy. 10. Expect heavy traffic along Hwy. 10. Early morning rides are recommended. Turn right onto Hwy. 113 (end of Lake Maumelle) and prepare for a strenuous scramble up Wye Mountain. It’s a challenge but a fun one with a super fast descent. Bear right on Hwy. 300 to head back to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. 34 Arkansas.com/bicycling


c l as s i c c l i m b s

14

RICH MOUNTAIN RIDE difficult

67 MILES

start elevation

1,121 Ft

max elevation

1,677 Ft

gain

1,920 Ft

Elevation map courtesy of MapMyRide.com

From MENA on the Talimena National Scenic Byway (Hwy. 88), it’s a nine-mile sufferfest up Rich Mountain, the state’s second highest peak at 2,680 feet, and the site of the splendid Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Arkansas’s Castle in the Clouds. The lodge has been fully renovated and is more impressive than ever. After a day in the saddle, enjoy the views from this lofty locale. A perfect time to visit would be for the Wheel A’ Mena bike tour, held every September. Choose from 70-, 50- and 30-mile routes with multiple steep climbs and crazy descents. Book a king or queen room with spa tub and fireplace, and make a weekend of it. Hiking trails and scenic overlooks are just a short walk from the lodge. Campsites are also available. classic climbs 35


c l as s i c c l i m b s

PETIT JEAN MOUNTAIN difficult

21 MILES

start elevation

346 Ft

max elevation

1,039 Ft

15 gain

718 Ft

Elevation map courtesy of MapMyRide.com

Petit Jean Mountain is a must for the iconic state park at the top. Hwy. 154 rises out of the valley and winds up the isolated mountain between the Arkansas and Petit Jean rivers. The long, steep grade leads to Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas’s first state park. Follow the signs to Petit Jean’s gravesite and overlook, a tribute to the legendary young girl after whom the mountain is named. Continue riding to the elegantly rustic Mather Lodge for lunch or to check into your room. Cabins and campsites offer additional overnight options. From the lodge, hike-and-bike to the Cedar Falls Overlook. The bike path will turn into a gravel path with a few stairs at the end. Walk your bike down the boardwalk for stunning views of the 95-foot Cedar Falls. The falls are just one of the natural wonders of this park. Caves, canyons, bluffs, bluff shelters with prehistoric markings, a natural bridge, distinctive rock formations like carpet rocks and turtle rocks, and the Seven Hollows add to the mystique of this special place. On your way back, stop at The Outpost, a local convenience store known for Petit Jean Mountain fudge, a sweet treat to stow away in your bike bag for later. 36 Arkansas.com/bicycling


c l as s i c c l i m b s

MOUNT NEBO 16 difficult

6

MILES

start elevation

333 Ft

max elevation

1,786 Ft

gain

1,294 Ft

Elevation map courtesy of MapMyRide.com

From the intersection at Hwy. 64 and Hwy. 155, it’s about three miles of rolling hills and one wall of work between you and the top of Mount Nebo. Rising 1,350 feet, it’s a very challenging ascent with several sharp switchbacks. Waiting for you are gorgeous views of the Arkansas River Valley and a state park with campsites, cabins and a swimming pool. The 4.5-mile Bench Trail is a great mountain biking trail that circumnavigates the mountain. As you ride through the mixed hardwood and pine forest, you’ll pass historic springs and Fern Lake and see rockwork done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s. If you didn’t bring a mountain bike, you can rent one at the park’s visitors center. classic climbs 37


GRAND TOURS

LITTLE ROCK TO MEMPHIS EASY-Moderate

3 Day 183 tour MILES

17

NORTH LITTLE ROCK DAY 1 • 69 MILES DES ARC

This backroads route to MEMPHIS takes you through farmlands and small towns, past restaurants with great family cooking, over bridges, next to a major state park and up Crowley’s Ridge. The ride is longer than the car trip, but it adds a whole lot more experience than an interstate can deliver. You can divide the ride up into three segments – NORTH LITTLE ROCK to DES ARC, Des Arc to FORREST CITY and Forrest City to MEMPHIS – and either camp or stay in hotels along the way. Start in North Little Rock at the base of the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge heading east. Avada’s Diner in CARLISLE makes a good lunch stop with a homestyle buffet that’ll have you back in the saddle fully fueled. You can make Des Arc by mid-afternoon and overnight there. A lightly traveled highway with good shoulders and polite motorists takes you through COTTON PLANT, which could be your first stop of the day. Pass the flooded rice fields and dip through groves of shade trees as the road takes you east and then north for a bit. Roadside fruit stands sell the freshest peaches. In the vast, flat sea of the Delta, Crowley’s Ridge is a 150-mile-long island of rolling hills and hardwoods. You’ll ride the ridge for some 14 miles, passing the entrance to Village Creek State Park, then head south to cross I-40 and end the day at Forrest City. Riding out from Forrest City, the roads are flat, with farmlands, woodlands and bottomlands visible for miles on both sides of the well-shouldered road. If you’ve made it this far, you’re not out of the woods, but you are out of the hills. 38 Arkansas.com/bicycling


DAY 2 • 58 MILES FORREST CITY DAY 3 • 56 MILES MEMPHIS

local Peach stand, Forrest City

Hwy. 284 near Village Creek State Park

An easy, scenic ride brings you to WEST MEMPHIS and the entrance to one of the bike world’s new wonders: Big River Crossing. The longest bridge built for pedestrians and cyclists is open daily from sunrise to 10 p.m. and offers beautiful, sweeping views of the Mighty Mississippi and its natural surroundings. GRAND TOURS 39


GRAND TOURS

RIDING THE RIDGE EASY-Moderate

3-4 Day 196 tour MILES

18

NEWPORT DAY 1 • 39 MILES WALNUT RIDGE

This easy-to-moderate loop can stretch 3-4 days and nearly 200 miles if you want, or you can shorten the loop to a day or two and still have a great ride with tons of fun stops and scenery along the way. Part of this ride is on Crowley’s Ridge, giving you a couple hundred feet of elevation gain and some amazing biodiversity, sights and stops. And when you’re not on Crowley’s Ridge, you’re traveling through beautiful hardwood bottomlands, over rivers and streams, and through pastoral farmlands of corn, rice, cotton, beans and sorghum. The blues has Highway 61. But rock ’n’ roll has Arkansas’s Highway 67, “The Rock ’N’ Roll Highway.” Start riding in NEWPORT heading north on Highway 367, which soon becomes Highway 67. Rockabilly, blues, gospel and rock ’n’ roll acts burned up this road in the 1950s and 60s. The clubs and juke joints of the day played host to Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Sonny Burgess, Billy Lee Riley, Carl Perkins and lots more. When you roll into WALNUT RIDGE, the only place in Arkansas where the Beatles made a stop, make sure you visit the Beatles Sculpture, Imagine Gift Shop and the Guitar Walk. The Argenta Collection, containing more than 200 photographs of the Beatles, can be viewed at the Lawrence County Library. The next day, grab a cup of joe at Dark Side before riding out of Walnut Ridge. Head northeast on Highway 90 to PIGGOTT, where you’ll find the HemingwayPfeiffer House where Ernest Hemingway actually wrote part of “A Farewell to Arms” and several short stories during the 1920s. The Pfeiffer House and the Hemingway 40 Arkansas.com/bicycling


DAY 2 • 53 MILES PIGGOTT DAY 3 • 58 MILES JONESBORO

DAY 4 • 46 MILES NEWPORT

Guitar Walk, Walnut Ridge

Crowley’s Ridge State Park, Walcott

Forrest L. Wood Nature Center, Jonesboro

Hemingway-pfeiffer Museum, Piggott

Barn Studio behind it have been restored to their 1930s appearance and are open for tours. From Piggott head south on Highway 49 toward PARAGOULD. Here, pick up Highway 358 west then onto Highway 141 south into JONESBORO where riders can enjoy downtown restaurants, galleries and a day spa. Jonesboro is also home to Arkansas State University and is close to the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center. Also along this route is Crowley’s Ridge State Park near WALCOTT. Native log and stone structures constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps set the mood for the park, which offers modern cabins and group lodging, as well as campsites and a fishing lake. Leaving Jonesboro, take Highway 226 east to CASH, then Highway 18 east back to Newport. GRAND TOURS 41


GRAND TOURS

FOUR-LAKE LOOP Moderate

3-4 Day 19 212 tour MILES

HOT SPRINGS DAY 1 • 68 MILES MOUNT IDA DAY 2 • 57 MILES

Not sure if you want to push your limits or just set a chill pace and have fun? This is the tour for you. This moderate ride allows you to stop and camp at four great Arkansas State Parks, or stay at resorts, cabins or B&Bs along the way. At its max, the loop is more than 200 miles and takes you by Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson, DeGray Lake and Lake Hamilton, but you can make the loop as short or as long as you want. Start in Hot Springs National Park. Take in restored Bathhouse Row or the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail to learn how modern spring training for pro ball players started right here. Throw in great art, dining and nightlife, and you may not want to leave. From HOT SPRINGS, head north out of town and onto Hwy. 227 toward Lake Ouachita State Park. Lake Ouachita is a water sports mecca for swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating and fishing, and the park doesn’t disappoint with almost 100 campsites, four one-room camper cabins and four full cabins. The longest (and maybe prettiest) leg of the journey takes you from Lake Ouachita State Park west along the north side of the lake with campgrounds. Get refreshments at STORY and head south through MOUNT IDA for groceries, diners and lodging on your way to Daisy State Park. Daisy State Park offers 7,000 acres of clear Lake Greeson water and beautiful mountain scenery. Nearby, the Little Missouri and four other float streams offer spring and early summer trout fishing and even more spectacular scenery. The next section is a gem – literally. The ride to Crater of Diamonds State Park is mellow, but you may get caught up in Diamond Fever once you get to the park. 42 Arkansas.com/bicycling


MURFREESBORO DAY 3 • 53 MILES DEGRAY LAKE RESORT STATE PARK

DAY 4 • 25 MILES HOT SPRINGS

Esperanza Diamond

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, Hot Springs

Crater of diamonds state Park, Murfreesboro

Near Lake Ouachita State Park

Crater of Diamonds is the only mine in the world where you can dig for diamonds and keep what you find. The most valuable diamond ever found in the U.S. was the Esperanza, discovered in the summer of 2015. From the Crater, you’ll head toward DELIGHT, Glen Campbell’s hometown, and then on toward DeGray Lake Resort State Park, a full resort with golf, marina, swim beach, full restaurant and bar, and lots more. In season, DeGray offers interpreter-led floats to watch majestic bald eagles. The home stretch takes you across the last of the four lakes, Lake Hamilton, and back into Hot Springs. If you parked downtown, you’ll pass Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, where you can win big, wet your whistle and enjoy a delicious meal. GRAND TOURS 43


RACES & RIDES

Joe Martin Stage Race

April • Fayetteville

The Joe Martin Stage Race began as the Fayetteville Spring Classic in 1978. Joe Martin served as the race director until 1988 when he was stricken with cancer. Upon his death, the race was renamed in his honor. Since then, the Joe Martin Stage Race has grown into one of the top pro tour and amateur stage races in the nation. More than 750 riders from 23 countries and all 50 states will compete over four days. There is also a gran fondo for fans who want to experience the same courses as the pros.

Little Rock Gran Fondo

MAY • Little Rock

Now in its fifth year, the Little Rock Gran Fondo is the South’s premier cycling and culinary event. The fondo offers two fully supported routes on Arkansas’s most scenic roads. The riding is just as great as the dining – with gourmet meals, healthy snacks and beverages at each rest stop and great food and fun at the finish line party, where friends and family can await your arrival while enjoying cold beer and live music.

Big Dam Bridge 100

September • Little Rock

Arkansas’s largest cycling tour, the event is held annually in downtown Little Rock with 10-, 32-, 50-, 68- and 100-mile routes through Central Arkansas. Finish line festivities are held along Main Street in North Little Rock. The Big Dam Bridge Foundation works to maintain and promote the use of the Big Dam Bridge, the longest bridge built specifically for pedestrians and cyclists, which connects 20 miles of scenic riverside trails in Little Rock and North Little Rock. For a full calendar of events, visit Arkansas.com/bicycling. 44 Arkansas.com/bicycling


Resources

bike shops Northwest Adventure Mountain Outfitters, Eureka Springs The Bicycle Outfitter, Harrison The Bike Route, Fayetteville Carr’s Chain Reaction, Russellville Champion Cycling, Fort Smith Dogwood Junction Trikes & Bikes, Siloam Springs GPP Cycling, Bella Vista, Fayetteville, Rogers Highroller Cyclery, Fayetteville, Rogers Lewis & Clark, Fayetteville, Rogers, Springdale Mojo Cycling, Bentonville Ozark Bike Shop, Rogers Phat Tire Bike Shop, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Siloam Springs, Springdale Scott’s Bike Shop, Fort Smith North Central Mountain Home Bicycle Company, Mountain Home

Sulphur Creek Outfitters, Heber Springs Central Angry Dave’s, North Little Rock Arkansas Cycling and Fitness, Little Rock, Sherwood The Bike Lane, Searcy Bobby’s Bike Hike Tours & Rentals, Little Rock Chainwheel, Conway, Little Rock The Community Bicyclist, Little Rock Giant Bicycles, Little Rock J&P Bike Shop, Sherwood NLR Bicycles, North Little Rock The Ride, Conway Spokes, Little Rock Northeast Gearhead Cycle House, Jonesboro Southwest Berridge Bikes, Texarkana Parkside Cycle, Hot Springs Spa City Cycling, Hot Springs

organizations Arkansas Bicycle Club

Bike Little Rock

Arkansasbicycleclub.org

Bikelr.com

Arkansas Outside

Bike/Walk Arkansas

Arkansasoutside.com

Bikewalkar.org

Arkansas River Trail

Cycling Arkansas Directory

Arkansasrivertrail.org

Cyclingarkansas.com

Arkansas Tourism Official Site

Conway Advocates for Cycling

Arkansas.com/bicycling

Cycleconway.com

Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas

Hot Springs Bicycle Association

Bicycleadvocacy.com

Bikehotsprings.org

Bike Arkansas Directory

Northeast Arkansas Bicycle Coalition

Bikearkansas.com

Neabicyclecoalition.org

Bike Bentonville

Ozark Cycling Adventures

Bikebentonville.com

Ozarkcyclingadventures.com

Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks

University of Arkansas Cycling

Bconwa.com

Facebook.com/ArkansasCycling

Resources 45


C YC L I N G H U B O F T H E S O U T H B RA N D G U I D E L I N E S

ARKANSAS.COM/BICYCLING

2017 Arkansas Road Cycling Guide