Friday, December 27, 2019

Exploring Downtown Salt Lake City

salt lake city temple

I was pleasantly surprised to find out how walkable downtown Salt Lake City is on my first visit a couple of years ago. I had planned on hitting some of the cool Utah hiking trails. Unfortunately, it rained most of my trip, so I didn't get to do any hiking. Instead, I decided to explore downtown Salt Lake City whenever there were breaks in the rain. Since I was staying in Sandy, I took the TRAX train from the Historic Sandy Station to the South Temple Square Station, From there, I began my journey exploring downtown Salt Lake City on foot.

Salt Lake City History

I always like to begin these blog posts with a bit of history to provide a better background. Salt Lake City was founded in the late 1840s by pioneers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young was their leader. When the pioneers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley, there was absolutely nothing of value in the area. For example, there weren't fields ready to be plowed and turned into lucrative farmland like in the Midwest. Instead, they were greeted with an arid desert. Therefore, the new settlers had to build irrigation systems to turn the baron land into farmland. Brigham Young turned out to be a brilliant leader who methodically platted new towns in a way to make them thrive. He directed the construction of wide streets that were laid out in a grid pattern. Salt Lake City is now a thriving city with a strong tech-driven economy. Many of the biggest tech companies have a presence in the region, which has led the the nickname of Silicon Slopes.

Temple Square

temple square downtown salt lake city

I'll begin with Temple Square because that's kind of where everything started in Salt Lake City. This place was like nothing that I have ever seen or experienced before. I'll do my best to describe it, but understand that the photo doesn't do it justice. First, I didn't realize how much their was to see and do at Temple Square:
  • Beautiful Grounds
  • Salt Lake City Temple
  • Church History Museum
  • Genealogy Research Library
  • Tabernacle Choir
  • Joseph Smith Memorial Building Rooftop Observation Deck 
The first thing that I noticed upon entering Temple Square were the beautiful grounds that look like a park. Since I visited in the spring, there were lots of beautiful flowers and a lush landscape. I saw lots of visitors strolling the beautiful grounds, as well as wedding parties posing for pictures. The volunteers and missionaries are all very friendly and welcoming.

The Salt Lake City Temple is the crown jewel of Temple Square. The Temple is very busy during the "wedding season" - especially in June.

As a history buff, I especially enjoyed visiting the Church History Museum. The museum features hundreds of fascinating exhibits that detail the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the life of Joseph Smith.

In addition to hiking and history, I also love genealogy. Therefore, I found the Genealogy Research Library to be a fun place to explore my family tree. I was able to go as far back as my 4x great-grandparents.

tabernacle choir temple square

The Tabernacle Choir has been performing at historic Temple Square since the 1920s. Each Sunday Morning the Tabernacle Choir performs Music and the Spoken Word. For many years this was a radio broadcasts. However, now, it can be watched live on BYUtv at 9:30 am Mountain Time. In addition to Music and the Spoken Word, the Tabernacle Choir puts on several concerts throughout the year at Temple Square. My personal favorite is the Messiah performance around Easter.

If you are interested in beautiful views of the cityscape and surrounding mountains, then you need check out the rooftop observation deck on the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and rainy when I visited, so I didn't get very good pictures.


Utah State Capitol

utah state capitol building

Downtown Salt Lake City is home to the Utah capitol building. I know that many would consider Temple Square to be the crown jewel of downtown, but I think the Utah capitol is impressive in its own right. After seeing this stunning view at night, I decided to return during the day for a self-guided tour. 

Utah became a state in 1896. However, its capitol wasn't completed until 1916. The building is absolutely magnificent in every way. If you are a history buff, you will enjoy the murals that tell the story of Utah's history. I loved the elegant room in the front that showcased beautiful Victorian-era furnishings and fine china. My favorite thing about the capitol building is the cool rotunda. 

utah capitol rotunda

The interior of the capitol is filled with tall marble pillars that remind me of Greek and Roman architecture. There are several historical placards as well. All in all this was a fun place to visit. Therefore, if you enjoy history and great architecture, you need to check out the Utah state capitol building.

City Creek Center

City Creek Center is a world-class shopping and dining destination in downtown Salt Lake City, just across the street from the south side of Temple Square. The mall is named after a small stream that flows through the city called City Creek. The mall offers shoppers more than 100 stores and restaurants in a cool pedestrian-friendly environment. I loved the beautiful outdoor space that features a stunning water fountains.

City Creek Center Salt Lake City

In short, the next time you find yourself in Salt Lake City, be sure to set a side some time to explore the downtown area on foot. Yes, it's very different from hiking in some of Utah's famous national parks. However, a downtown walking tour still offers good exercise and lots of opportunities to discover hidden gems that can be just as awe-inspiring as canyons and mountain vistas.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Bentonville Mountain Biking Mecca

bentonville mountain biking trails

Bentonville, Arkansas has a legit mountain biking scene with over 30 miles of city trails and another 50+ miles of trails at its doorstep in Northwest Arkansas. The beauty of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas combined with major investments in building world-class trails have turned Bentonville into a mountain biking mecca. The Oz Trails like Slaughter Pen, Blowing Springs, and the Back 40 attract experienced bikers from all over the country (and likely all over the world) who enjoy riding through challenging terrain in the fresh air of the Ozark Mountains.

Bentonville Mountain Biking Events

Bentonville's Oz Trails hosts several mountain biking festivals throughout the year:
  • Bentonville Bike Festival with Women Shred
  • Arkansas Bike Summit
  • Square 2 Square
  • Outerbike Bentonville
  • Epic Rides Oz Trails Off-Road
Those are just a few of the major events. In 2018 the city became home to the first Outerbike venue east of the Rocky Mountains (which is now an annual event in October).

In short, no matter your skill level, you can find a suitable mountain biking trail for you. For example, I see many families riding with their children on the paved Razorback Greenway, while more advanced riders take on the challenging Oz Trails. If you don't have a mountain bike, you can easily rent one from one of the bike shops around town like Phat Tire and Mojo Cycling. In addition to the Oz Trails, Bentonville has built several cool and (somewhat challenging) obstacle courses along the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Greenway near Compton Gardens and Crystal Bridges. 

Slaughter Pen Trail System

slaughter pen mountain biking trails

Bentonville's Slaughter Pen Mountain Bike Trails are over 25-miles long. The unusual name was actually a nickname for the north part of town - back in the day - because it contained several slaughter houses. Today the Slaughter Pen trails take mountain bikers over hills, through valleys, and along the edges of steep bluffs (known as cliff riding). These dirt paths are narrow, so riders must be courteous to each other. (No playing chicken lol). These mountain bike trails are very close to the city. However, they are surrounded by trees, which make for scenic rides. You can access the Slaughter Pen trails on the Razorback Greenway north of downtown Bentonville and Crystal Bridges. In fact, there are multiple access points along the Razorback Greenway that are clearly marked with signs and maps. 

oz trails bentonville

Blowing Springs Trails

The Blowing Springs trail system in Bella Vista is about a 6-mile loop that connects directly into the Slaughter Pen trail system. Parking is available just off the road near the trailhead. If you enjoy cliff riding, you will love Blowing Springs. In addition to cliff riding, the trail takes mountain bikers past springs, waterfalls, and caves. The trail is also popular with hikers and runners.

blowing springs trail system

The Back 40

The Back 40 offers mountain bikers, hikers, and trail-runners 40-miles of scenic trails ranging from beginner to expert in Bella Vista. I like that there's something to suit everyone's skill level. The advanced/expert sections contain a lot of steep cliff riding. You will also pass by springs, lakes, and more caves. The Back 40 is the most scenic section of the Oz Trails. Therefore, you want to make sure to study a map before you start out. 

You can access the Back 40 from three trailheads:
  • Buckingham
  • Lake Ann
  • Bear Hollow
Go approximately one-mile east on Trafalgar from U.S. 71. Then, turn left on Buckingham Drive. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road.

From U.S. 71, take Trafalgar east for about four miles. Then, turn left on Castleford Drive. The trailhead is about a quarter-mile down the road on the left.

Take exit 98 east - Lancashire Blvd - from U.S. 71. Drive about three-miles, then take a left on Gainsford Drive. The trailhead will be on your left just after you turn on Gainsford.

the back 40 trails bella vista arkansas

Square 2 Square Bike Ride

The Razorback Greenway connects the Bentonville Square to the Fayetteville Square with a paved, wide, multi-use trail that is very popular with riders. Each May, the Razorback Greenway hosts an event called Square 2 Square. During the event bikers ride from the Bentonville Square to the Fayetteville Square, or vice versa. That's a 30-mile long bike ride! 

Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway

In addition to Square 2 Square, several clubs and organizations hosts regular bike rides (some short and some long). I also know many bikers who enjoy riding this trail just for fun. The Razorback Greenway runs through the cities of Fayetteville, Springdale, Lowell, Rogers, Bentonville, and Bella Vista. There are lots of easy access points and parking lots along the 37-mile greenway. This trek is very popular with hikers and joggers as well. Therefore, it can get quite crowded in places, especially in towns. Luckily, Northwest Arkansas continues to build new biking trails along the Razorback Greenway that are sort of like passing lanes that take bikers around slower pedestrian traffic. 

bentonville bike trails

In short, Bentonville, Arkansas is known as the "Mecca" and "Disneyland" of mountain biking. The Oz Trails offer mountain bikers a vast network of trails from beginner to expert. The Ozarks are full of lush trees, as well as steep hills and bluffs. The Oz Trails give bikers the chance to experience cliff riding in one of the most beautiful settings in the country. (Bring your helmet lol). If you are an experienced rider with a competitive spirit, come to one (or more) of the many biking festivals held each year in Bentonville. If you want to experience a slower, more gentle ride, hop on the Razorback Greenway that runs for 37-miles through Northwest Arkansas.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Step Back In Time At The Jane Store

the jane store jane missouri

The Jane Store is part cafe, part country store, and a big part of the community of Jane, Missouri. Located one-mile east of the U.S. 71 and HWY 90 intersection a few miles north of the Arkansas/Missouri state line - visiting the Jane Store is a very easy drive from Northwest Arkansas and Joplin. Every visitor is greeted with a friendly welcome, the smell of good food cooking on the grill, and a bit of nostalgia for the bygone era of country stores.

The Jane Store

I remember this rock building being a gas station when I was a kid back in the 90s. There was just one lonely gas pump out in front of the old building. Back then it was close to the historic White Rock School building. It likely closed not long after that. Fast-forward to this last decade. A new owner purchased the old building and turned it into the Jane Store: a combination cafe and old fashioned country store.

The owner is very friendly and enjoys talking to everyone. She loves the community of Jane, especially its history. If you enjoy history, check out the historic Jane Post Office building. It makes a good photo op while visiting the village. Also, you might enjoy the community's annual celebration, Jane Days (which I believe is on a Saturday in September). 

Breakfast and Lunch Hot Off The Grill

The first thing that visitors will notice upon entering the Jane Store is the look and smell of good country food being cooked and served to eager customers sitting at tables (like in a small cafe). Therefore, I recommend that you come with a big appetite to enjoy a menu full of delicious food from their grill (and leave room for dessert).
    If I were to step out onto a limb, I would say that breakfast is the most popular meal choice for most customers at the Jane Store. Everything always looks and smells good. I have had the French toast and bacon. Although, I have always been more of a lunch man myself. If you are in the mood for a good sandwich, the Jane Store also has a deli counter with many choices of meat and cheese. I have had several of their delicious sandwiches. However, my favorite meal is their cheeseburger and fries.

    the jane store grill food


    Homemade Baked Goods

    We can't forget about dessert! My personal favorite is ice cream, especially milkshakes and hot fudge sundaes. Yum! However, the Jane Store is famous for their homemade baked goods. Seriously, I have been there during the summer and overheard customers place Thanksgiving pie orders. (I don't think pies are for sale with their regular baked goods unless you order one ahead of time). They make delicious cinnamon rolls and cookies that are quite popular with customers as well. Unfortunately, they do tend to sell out of cinnamon rolls (and sometimes cookies) early.

    One of my favorite things about their food and baked goods is the low prices. Since the Jane Store is one of the best places to eat in McDonald County, it can get crowded at certain times. However, I have never had to wait for a table - but if I did it would be worth the wait.

    Country Store

    In addition to being a delicious cafe, deli, and bakery, the Jane Store is a bit of a country store. I think a lot of their merchandise changes throughout the year. However, you can always find old fashion soda in the glass bottle, old school candy, canned jellies and jams, as well as a few handmade crafts. I enjoy buying the old fashioned root beer and candy. 

    the jane store handmade crafts

    Whether you are in Northwest Arkansas, Joplin, or someplace in between, the Jane Store is a fun little journey back to the days of the old country stores. If you arrive hungry and in the mood for nostalgia, you will leave full of good food and a good time.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2019

    My Grand Hike to Grand Falls in Joplin

    grand falls shoal creek joplin

    Grand Falls on Shoal Creek near Joplin is the largest waterfall in Missouri. I consider this waterfall a hidden gem in the Ozarks. Grand Falls is 12-feet tall and over 160-feet wide. The Falls (as locals refer to the area) are two miles west of Redings Mill, Missouri on Riverside Drive. Most visitors park alongside the road. This is a very popular hiking, swimming, and fishing spot during the warmer months of the year. Therefore, parking in the area can get quite crowded - especially on weekends - so I prefer hiking to Grand Falls from Wildcat Glades. (Wildcat Glades is now owned and maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation).

    Grand Falls Dam on Shoal Creek

    Before I tell you about my hiking trek to Grand Falls, I'd like to share a bit of interesting history with you. This area has been a popular recreation spot for Joplin residents and visitors since the city's founding in the 1870s. Just above the falls is a man-made dam. I have heard two conflicting stories about why this dam was built on Shoal Creek.

    The first story that I heard about the dam is that it was built by Empire Electric to generate hydropower for the city of Joplin. This story is definitely plausible, because Empire Electric built small dams to generate hydropower on other area rivers. For example, the Noel Dam was built on Elk River forming Lake  St Claire in the 1920s. Also, Power Dam on the Spring River in Riverton, Kansas created the 400 acre Lake Lowell. Empire used both of these dams to generate electricity for Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas respectively before they switched to coal power plants.

    Another story I heard is that the Grand Falls Dam was built to create a lake on Shoal Creek to supply the city of Joplin with water. I do know that Joplin does get (at least some of) its drinking water from Shoal Creek. However, I don't know if that was really why the dam was originally built.

    My Hike to The Falls

    redings mill bridge shoal creek

    I began my hike to Grand Falls by hiking the Wildcat Glades trail that goes through the quaint village of Redings Mill. The first part of this trek takes you by lots of scenic bluffs and a few caves. One of the caves has a large opening with smoke soot on the rock above it. I imagine this was once a popular camping spot for Native Americans. I also love this trail because it takes you over the old Redings Mill bridges across Shoal Creek (The old bridge is only open to pedestrian traffic). This is a great spot to take in the beauty and roar of the rapids below. After you cross the bridge, the trail transports you into the peaceful serenity of the Ozarks as you hike alongside Shoal Creek. The trek is mostly flat and hugs the creek closely.

    Shoal Creek

    You will eventually come to a big hill to hike that takes you high in elevation above the valley below. You do need to be in good physical shape to take on this challenging section of the trail. There is even a warning sign at the bottom of the hill. The path is very steep and narrow, so you need to be careful. Just take it slow and steady. Once you get to the top of the hill, you have an excellent vantage point of the Ozark Mountains and the valley below. 

    wildcat glades trail
    (Photo taken from a winter hike).

    From this point on it's (literally) all down hill from here. For me, the trek down doesn't seem as scary as going up. Once you at the bottom of the hill, the trail ends at a parking lot next to the low water bridge. From there, you will follow Riverside Drive about a mile to Grand Falls. Riverside Drive doesn't have that much traffic. However, drivers might not expect to see someone walking on the side of the road - so be careful. 

    My favorite thing about hiking to Grand Falls isn't anything that I see on the hike there. Instead, it's the sound of hearing Shoal Creek roaring over the dam and the falls as you approach from a distance. You hear the sound of rushing water long before you come upon the falls because they are hidden by the trees. Just before you get to the falls is a short trail that will take you to the dam. (I didn't know about this trail on my hike; otherwise I'd have better photos of the dam lol).

     Beautiful Grand Falls on Shoal Creek

     grand falls joplin

    In short, if you are looking for an awesome outdoor adventure in the Ozark Mountains just a few miles from Joplin, you should check out Grand Falls on Shoal Creek! Many lifelong residents of the Ozarks aren't aware that such a stunning, natural outdoor attraction is located so close to Joplin. I remember being stunned to learn that Grand Falls is the biggest waterfall in Missouri. The first time I saw the falls, I couldn't believe their size and beauty. I remember being a bit awe struck by the water cascading off the massive ledge before me. Below the falls you will find several creek pools that are perfect for swimming on a hot day. This is one of my favorite swimming holes in the Ozarks! Shoal Creek is surrounded by large chert rocks. Therefore, you do have to climb down a few short rock ledges to get to the water.

    Monday, December 16, 2019

    Crystal Bridges Museum Trails

    elevel restaurant pavilion crystal bridges

    The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas is known as the cultural gem of the Ozarks. The museum, which offers free public admission, was founded by Alice Walton, and largely funded by the Walton Family Foundation. The eye-catching structure is set on 120 scenic acres in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. Therefore, in addition to showcasing thousands of works of famous American art, the museum offers visitors several miles of hiking trails that take hikers through splendid outdoor scenery in the Ozarks. Each year millions of visitors from all over the world come to experience this magnificent (indoor and outdoor) attraction. This world-class attraction hosts several special events throughout the year. For example, during the 2019 holiday season, Crystal Bridges is presented an outdoor artistic light and sound show called North Forest Lights. In short, if you looking for some awesome hiking, as well as some cool artwork, you must visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art the next time that you are in Bentonville. This is just a place that you have to see to believe.

    Crystal Bridges All-American Trail

    crystal bridges all american trail

    The Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway runs along the western-side of the museum's grounds. This section of the Razorback Greenway is called the Crystal Bridges All-American Trail, and it's about 2-miles long. The trail is quite popular with bikers, hikers, and joggers who enjoy being surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Ozarks.The trail also leads to Compton Gardens and the Bentonville square. This is also a fun place to bring your bike (or rent one from one of the bike shops in the area). You will find two connector trails that will take you directly to the north and south entrances of the museum respectively. Therefore, you can easily hike or bike to the museum from the Bentonville square via the Razorback Greenway.

    Crystal Bridges Art Trail 

    crystal bridges art trail

    The Crystal Bridges Art trail connects hikers and bikers on the Razorback Greenway to the museum's south entrance. Along the trail you will find several creative outdoor art exhibits that make for good sightseeing and photo opportunities. This is also a good area to just sit on a bench and relax after hiking or biking. I enjoy being in the middle of the Ozark Mountains that surround the museum. A small spring follows along side the trail before it flows into a large pond underneath the Eleven Restaurant pavilion. If you are interested in exploring more wooded areas, you can check out the walking paths that will take you around the museum. These walking paths offer short treks into nature away from the busier trails. The outdoor planetarium is another popular attraction in this area. You will also find public restrooms nearby.

    Crystal Springs "Waterfall" Trail

    Crystal Springs Waterfall is situated on one of the beautiful walking paths just south of the museum. (The size of the waterfall depends on the amount of recent rainfall). This is also the headwaters of Crystal Spring, which flows next to the North Bentonville Trail for several miles before forming Little Sugar Creek just above Lake Bella Vista. I am a big fan of clear-flowing water so I love hiking by springs like this one. Once you cross the small rock bridge over the waterfall, the walking path will lead you up a tall hill with a bench on top. This spot is a nice place to sit and listen to the sound of the waterfall and enjoy the lush beauty of the surrounding Ozarks. From here you can meander through the woods and experience nature on a few miles of walking paths. Don't worry, they all lead back to the main trails, so you can't get (too) lost. 

    Crystal Bridges North Lawn Trail

    The Crystal Bridges North Lawn Trail conveniently takes hikers and bikers to the museum's north entrance. If you look in the picture above, you will see a large, unusual structure that looks like a giant ball with holes in it. This is one of the museum's outdoor art exhibits called the Fly's Eye: A larger-than-life replica of the eye of a fly. It's actually not as disgusting as it sounds once you get up close enough to explore it. On warm days the trees on the north lawn are lined with hammocks. On the other side of the Razorback Greenway is a popular, new mountain bike trail with some cool obstacles built-in to the surrounding terrain. Watching bikers ride those trails is quite enjoyable from the north lawn.

    Crystal Bridges Scenic Overlook

    Lastly, one of my favorite hidden gems on the Crystal Bridges museum trails is the scenic overlook just off the Razorback Greenway. The scenic overlook is surrounded by trees and features stone benches to rest yourself after hiking or biking. You get a nice view of the museum through a small opening in the trees. I always refer to this spot as a "living" picture, because the trees are like the picture frame, and Crystal Bridges looks like a work of art. You can be the judge for yourself.

    crystal bridges scenic overlook

    In short, if you are an art lover and/or an outdoor enthusiast, I know that you will love exploring the many miles of trails in the Ozarks around Crystal Bridges. Each season changes the look of the museum grounds throughout the year.

    Saturday, December 14, 2019

    NWA Razorback Greenway North Bentonville Trail

    north bentonville trail in compton gardens

    One of my favorite sections of the Razorback Greenway for short hiking treks is the North Bentonville Trail that runs between Lake Bella Vista and the Bentonville Square. I like this section because it offers lots of beautiful scenery and wooded areas free from the noise of traffic. You will also pass Compton Gardens and a world-class art museum (Crystal Bridges) on your way to the square. If you enjoy a hike or bike ride that offers a good mix of scenic beauty and friendly people, check out the North Bentonville Trail.

    What Is The Razorback Greenway?

    The Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway (official name) is a 37-mile multi-use trail that runs from Fayetteville to Lake Bella Vista. The paved trail is mostly off-road, and its 10-foot width is wide enough to accommodate hikers, bikers, and joggers. There is plenty of room to politely pass someone going slower than you or to let those going faster conveniently pass you. The Razorback Greenway is a combination of several trails that take outdoor enthusiasts through lots of scenic places in the middle of nature, as well as through some quaint city neighborhoods. The trail will often follow a sidewalk in towns, but it's very pedestrian and bike-friendly. Once a month the Razorback Greenway hosts square-to-square: A bike ride that takes bicyclists from the Bentonville square to the Fayetteville square, or vice-versa (about a 30-mile ride).

    North Bentonville Trail

    Hikers and bikers will find lots of access points and parking along the North Bentonville Trail. I usually park at Hidden Springs (just north of the Bark Park). However, if the parking lot is full, you can usually find more parking at the Bark Park about a half-mile south. Hidden Springs is about a 3-mile hike or bike ride to the square (which makes this trek 6-miles round trip). Occasionally, I will make this a 10-mile trek by hiking on to Lake Bella Vista.

    slaughter pen trail system

    Hiking and biking on the Razorback Greenway is a lot like following a highway. For example, you have clearly-marked signs to show you exactly where you are at and where you are going. In addition to signs, you will find easy-to-read trail maps along the way. I don't think that I have ever met someone lost on this trail lol.

    Another reason that I enjoy this section of the Razorback Greenway is because I love the sight and sound of clear, flowing water. After leaving the parking lot at Hidden Springs, you will cross a small creek that follows the trail for nearly your entire trek to the square. 

    hidden springs bentonville

    This creek doesn't have an official name. (The small stream is actually one of the main tributaries of Little Sugar Creek, which along with Big Sugar Creek, forms Elk River in Southwest Missouri). Instead, this creek is a series of springs that flow together north of Bentonville referred to as Hidden Springs. There are a few low points along the trail that can get covered by shallow water after heavy rains. However, throughout most of the year, the springs add to beauty of the area during your trek.

    Slaughter Pen Mountain Bike Trails

    Bentonville is fast becoming known as a "Mecca" and "Disneyland" for mountain bike riders. The Slaughter Pen Trails includes over 30-miles of mountain bike trails for all levels of riders.  However, unlike the Razorback Greenway that is paved, these bike trails are unpaved and often quite rugged. If you are an adventurous mountain biker, you can access the Slaughter Pen trails from various points along the Razorback Greenway. These popular mountain bike trails hosts several events and competitions throughout the year that attract professional riders from around the country (and probably from around the world). Slaughter Pen was actually the name of an old neighborhood in north-side of Bentonville that was located near the slaughter houses. This was a poorer part of town. Therefore, it's funny that this area is now a world-famous mountain bike playground.

    North Trail Fitness Station

    Contrary to what you might think, the Razorback Greenway offers more forms of physical activity and exercise than just walking and bike riding. Just south of the Slaughter Pen trail head, you will find the North Trail Fitness Station. This fitness station contains outdoor equipment for pull-ups (or chin-ups), pushups, and stretching. This is also a fun place to take a break from hiking or riding. Across the trail from the execrise station are a couple of cool sculptures. One looks like the incredible hulk (made out of stones) on a hiking trek.

    Take Your Time to Enjoy Sightseeing Along The Trail

    In addition to getting a healthy dose of physical activity on the North Bentonville Trail, there several opportunities to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You will find park benches conveniently located along the trail. As if breathtaking scenery wasn't enough, you will also pass by the world famous Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. 

    Crystal Bridges Museum

    Most of the North Bentonville Trail is fairly level with gentle inclines. However, on your last mile to the square, you will encounter two very steep hills. This area can sometimes get congested as less experienced riders opt to walk their bikes up the hills, and a lot of joggers will slow down their pace.  The Crystal Bridges Scenic Overlook is my favorite resting spot between conquering those two big hills. The scenic overlook offers a good view of the museum from the west, as well as the wooded hillsides. There are also restrooms nearby if you need to see a man about a dog.

    Compton Gardens and The Crystal Bridges Art Trail

    The last leg of this trek runs between Compton Gardens and the Crystal Bridges museum grounds. In fact, you can take the Crystal Bridges Art Trail right to the museum's south entrance. I recommend exploring the art trail because it features some creative outdoor art exhibits, a couple of cool waterfalls, and really attractive museum grounds. Behind the museum you will find Crystal Springs - the source of the little creek that I mentioned earlier. This area has plenty of unique places for photo opportunities with friends and family.

    After you are finished checking out the museum grounds, head across the trail to Compton Gardens to enjoy the beauty of Compton Gardens. Compton Gardens was the home of Dr. Neal Compton who fought hard to save the Buffalo River from being turned into a lake in the 1960s. The park grounds around his former home serve as a testament to his love of nature. The North Bentonville Trail ends right after you leave Compton Gardens just north of the square.