Monday, February 3, 2020

Blowing Springs Trail

Blowing Springs Trail Bella Vista

The Blowing Springs Mountain Biking Trail is a 6-mile multi-use trail that's good for hiking as well. The rugged trek takes hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers on a scenic journey into the Ozarks of Bella Vista, Arkansas. I would rate this trek as moderate as there are lots of steep hills, cliffs, and rocky, narrow pathways. However, hiking this trail was a really awesome and enjoyable experience - something different from my usual hikes.

As far as I know, only Bella Vista POA members are allowed in Blowing Springs Park, so non-members must access the trail from outside the park. Therefore, I began my hike on the Blowing Springs Trail by taking the Cooper Connector that runs between the Smith's Trout Farm and Cooper Elementary School. (I parked by the Bella Vista Lake Dam - which is just across the street from the trout farm).

Blowing Springs Trail in Bella Vista

Smith's Trout Farm in Bella Vista
Spring-fed Lake That Looks Like a Painting

I have done plenty of hiking on dirt and rock surfaces before. However, this was my first hike on a mountain biking trail. This is a popular mountain biking spot in Northwest Arkansas, so I did meet a few bikers. Since I was on foot, I wanted to show a bit of courtesy on the narrow pathway. Whenever I met a biker, I just politely stood on the side to let them pass. I am impressed by how skilled mountain bikers are who can go cliff-riding up and down steep, rocky hills on narrow, rugged paths like this.

Ozark Mountain Workout

Blowing Springs Mountain Bike Trail

This was definitely a workout! My pace was a lot slower from my usual hikes on the paved Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway. Unlike paved surfaces, the Blowing Springs Trail resembles what I call authentic hiking in the Ozarks. The trail was built with a very limited impact to the scenic nature that surrounds it. There is no crushed rock to walk on, so much of the pathway is uneven. Also, there is not much grading - just enough to cut a small path out of the hillsides. The trail meanders along the side of cliffs, underneath bluffs, into deep valleys, all under a thick canopy of trees. You will definitely need a good pair of walking shoes - or even some hiking boots. I recommend a good walking stick like the one that I left in my trunk lol. This trek was quite muddy and slick in many spots due to all of the rain. Just pace yourself and take it one step at a time to avoid getting hurt. During the warm weather months, you will want to bring insect repellent and watch out for snakes!

The Blowing Springs Trail is a 6-mile loop. However, there are several sections where the trail divides to give you two choices of where you could go:
  • Loop
  • Low Ride
If you enjoy hiking along the cliffs above the valley, just follow the arrows to stay on the main loop. I mainly stayed on the loop to hike the full 6 miles.
However, if you enjoy trekking through more of the deep valleys, you can take the "low ride" options at various spots along the trail. This will give you more chances to explore the springs below the cliffs. The "low ride" options are also good if you would like hike more than 6 miles.

Blowing Springs Cave
Bear's Den?!
Just south of the Blowing Springs RV Park are a series of tall limestone bluffs that tower above the trail. I spotted a small opening to a cave. I wonder if this could be home to a hibernating bear lol? (Luckily, I didn't see any bears on my hike). Much of the limestone is covered in green moss where water likely drips through the rock. After passing by the limestone rocks, the trail takes a steep turn up the side of a hill. The trek then takes you along the side of a cliff that runs above these bluffs and limestone rock formations.

Blowing Springs Park

Blowing Springs Bella Vista

Blowing Springs Trail and park are named after the many springs that flow through the area. Typically, the springs flow next to the trail in the valleys. There are some wooden bridges that occasionally cross a spring. However, due to all the recent rain, there were many 'wet' springs running across the trail in several spots. I love flowing water so it didn't bother me. However, I had to take a few short detours to avoid getting my feet wet.

I imagine that many Native Americans camped around these springs because they provide a good source of water. Also, the caves would have made nice shelters. This would probably be a good area to go hunting for arrowheads. All of these little springs eventually flow into Little Sugar Creek which runs just west of the park. 

Blowing Springs

On the hike back to my car, I decided to do a quick loop around Bella Vista Lake.  Just above the lake, I caught this cool view of Little Sugar Creek. Notice the small white water rapids? That's due to the creek flowing higher and faster from all the rainfall we have had. A recent flash flood took out a small portion of the Bella Vista Lake Trail, as well as some tall trees next to the creek. Shout out to all of those responsible for maintaining the trails in Northwest Arkansas. You have had your work cut our for you over the past year.

Little Sugar Creek Bella Vista
Little Sugar Creek Headwaters

In short, if you are looking for a decent hiking adventure on a rugged, moderately difficult trek, I recommend the Blowing Springs Trail. The trail gives you an excellent opportunity to enjoy a fun trek into the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas without venturing too far off the beaten path. It also connects into the Slaughter Pen Trails and Bella Vista Back 40 trail systems. I enjoyed a good workout climbing up and down the steep hills, as well as taking in some awesome views of the valley below from the top of cliffs. I would rate this hiking adventure suitable for most skill levels, as long as you are in good shape.

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