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.


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