Five2Ride: The 5 Best Mountain Bike Trails in Arkansas

Arkansas is flush with excellent mountain bike trails, and is home to challenging topography thanks to not one, but two mountain ranges: the Ozarks and the Ouachitas.

While Arkansas may have flown way under the mountain biking radar for many years, with trail building booming in places like Bentonville, an increase in Arkansas’s marketing efforts promoting the outdoor opportunities that the state holds, and a previous IMBA World Summit being held in Arkansas, the secret is officially out. Arkansas is flush with excellent mountain bike trails, and is home to challenging topography thanks to not one, but two mountain ranges: the Ozarks and the Ouachitas.

Finally, what you might not expect–unless you’re from Arkansas–is how mild the climate is there. Arkansas almost never receives snow, and average highs in Bentonville even in January are still 44 degrees, with temps increasing quickly into the spring, and even warmer down south by Mt. Ida. While most mountain bikers think of the desert southwest and the southeast as go-to spring riding spots, Arkansas is a sleeper spring destination on the rise!

Here are the 5 best mountain bike trails in Arkansas that you need to check out this spring:

Womble Trail, Mt. Ida

Photo: GTXC4
Photo: GTXC4

The Womble Trail is a 37-mile point-to-point IMBA epic with constant elevation change along its route. Despite the never-ending ups and downs, this trail is relatively non-technical, making for a decent intermediate ride. However, bear in mind that this route can be very remote in locations, creating a formidable ride that is loved by many.

“Absolutely epic. My friends and I took a 2-day trip out here a week ago. We didn’t ride the entire thing, but the big chunk we knocked out was an absolute blast. Long, flowing singletrack with several creek crossings and switchbacks. Very beginner friendly. Great place to work on form and technique riding fast without worrying about intersecting trails or rock gardens. A few long climbs, but equally as many long moderately-graded downhills. Most of the trail was dry and compact, but there were a few really muddy and damp spots. This is a must ride for every MTB’er.” -Ben Stolinski

Slaughter Pen, Bentonville

Photo: Joseph Sparks
Photo: Joseph Sparks

Slaughter Pen is the marquee ride in the burgeoning destination of Bentonville. While this 18-mile trail system may be best-known for the jump and freeride trails, as the distance implies, there’s plenty of general trail riding to be had here at Slaughter Pen. Difficulties range from beginner to expert.

“Slaughter Pen has various phases and includes a downhill run and a pump track. This trail is well marked and maintained. There is something for everyone in this trail system (inclines, fast and flowing, banks, ramps, etc.). You can easily access any trail from the Razorback Greenway, a 30-plus-mile concrete bike path that connects to all the MTB trails.” -getgreedy

Lovit Trail, Mt. Ida

Photo: RJen
Photo: RJen

The Lovit Trail is a 48-mile-long point-to-point trail that is almost entirely singletrack with a few short road connectors to complete the route. Portions of this trail border Lake Ouachita, providing beautiful views. Generally riders only tackle certain portions of this trail at once, but doing a through-ride is definitely conceivable.

“This trail is a true cross country experience. We did an out & back from the dam trailhead. Many twists and turns, climbs & descents. The old logging roads were too steep and not interesting, but the singletrack was great fun.” -CFM

Iron Mountain, Arkadelphia

Photo: josh_emery3
Photo: josh_emery3

Iron Mountain is a 17-mile trail system with relatively flowy, easy trails, but with a few challenging rock gardens mixed in. Many people consider this a beginner-friendly trail system but by all accounts, most any mountain biker will have a great time here!

“This trail left me smiling the entire ride 🙂 Nothing too technical or challenging other than some mild climbs and a few rock gardens, but super flowy and fun! The scenery around the mountain is beautiful! The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. I’ll definitely be back in the future!” -Nicholas Whitchurch

Ouachita Trail, Mt. Ida

Photo: GTXC4
Photo: GTXC4

Rounding out this list is a third long-distance point-to-point trail, but this one blows the previous two out of the water with a massive 137-mile distance! Ouachita trail is relatively new in the grand scheme of epic point-to-point routes, having just been completed in 2001. Still, this is an uber-remote, technical, challenging, high-commitment trail that isn’t for the faint of heart. Riders report steep climbs, a narrow trail tread, and challenging roots and rock gardens.

“I love this trail, 100% singletrack! This trail is really under appreciated. I have spent hundreds of hours riding this trail, particularly Hwy 7 (west) and Hwy 27 (E&W).

This is a “put on your big boy pants” kind of ride. If you want a true backcountry bike experience this is it. Due to remoteness in sections the trail is like a ghost as it reveals itself to your front wheel 15 yards at a time. Super tech rock gardens, flow, and climbs that are miles long and 2000 ft gains. You will not see another biker, so you never have to stop for anybody. 😀 You may see a hunter or backpacker but rarely.
This trail is raw, If you don’t like trails that are covered in leafs and animal sh!t you better stay in the park.

There is a 3 side hut system on the 137 mile gem so you can pack light and camp on your bike.” -AKArky

Runner Up: Syllamo, Mountain View

Your Turn: If you’ve ridden there, what is YOUR favorite trail in Arkansas?