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.

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