Making the Connection in Northwest Arkansas

(The Grand Opening with all the ribbon cutting and speechifying will be happening on May 2, 2015. Plus a lot more fun stuff including hikes and bike rides)

Commuting to work is a drag. Our nation’s highways were not designed to soothe the soul. But many residents in Northwest Arkansas have an alternative to starting their daily grind off on the wrong foot. The Razorback Regional Greenway provides more than 36 miles of paved trails that connect residents in the region with their workplaces, schools, favorite watering holes, mountain bike trails and so many other places.

Riding the bridge on the Clear Creek Trail.

Riding the bridge on the Clear Creek Trail.

By the end of this year, cyclists, runners, and pedestrians can travel from Lake Bella Vista in northern Benton County to Walker Park in south Fayetteville on the paved, off-road corridor. For the mountain bikers out there, the Greenway connects Blowing Springs, Lake Bella Vista, Slaughter Pen, and Lake Fayetteville. In time, spur trails will extend out to Mount Kessler in Fayetteville, the developing mountain bike park at Lake Atalanta in Rogers, and the new natural-surface trail system planned for Springdale.

Imagine a destination with more than 60 miles of mountain bike trails strung together along a central paved trail lined with restaurants, bike shops, museums, and bike-friendly hotels. That is what’s building in Northwest Arkansas.

Getting the family out in the woods.

Getting the family out in the woods.

All of this infrastructure is adding a new dynamic to the outdoor culture in a region already known for its natural beauty. Bike shops are sprouting up or expanding, restaurants are adding trailside patios, and workplaces are adding showers for employees who choose an outdoor commute. Using the Greenway as a freeway a real option for many Northwest Arkansas residents. About 76,000 people in Northwest Arkansas live within a half-mile of the Razorback Greenway, and more than 80,000 people work within a half-mile of the trail.

Connections to the wild places.

Connections to the wild places.

The numbers show high usage numbers on established parts of the Greenway. Lake Fayetteville trails pull in about 20,000 users a month and almost 13,000 monthly visitors in a part of the Greenway in south Fayetteville used heavily for trail commuting. In the high-traffic tourist areas around the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, that monthly figure reaches about 200,000.

The popularity of the Greenway is leading to new conversations about co-existence between different user groups. Pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers, amateur photographers, running children – they are all sharing a 10-foot wide space and a (hopefully) positive trail experience.

Near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Construction is ongoing on the final sections of the Razorback Greenway, about 7 miles in Springdale and Lowell. The City of Springdale is opening up streets and demolishing abandoned buildings to bring the previously hidden Spring Creek back to prominence through downtown. The Greenway will meander through a revitalizing downtown before taking visitors by a historic cemetery and through an undeveloped creekbed toward Lake Springdale.

Stopping for more exploration.

Stopping for more exploration.

The unique combination of rural and urban is one of the Greenway’s best attributes and helps make it a wonderful recreation and transportation pathway. To help people learn more about the route of the Greenway and feel more comfortable riding, Misty Murphy from the Northwest Arkansas Council leads a Tour de Greenway every fourth Saturday of the month. The group rides the entire route of the Greenway, with some road riding through the incomplete portions. For more information, visit nwatrails.org.

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  1. […] to slip a bit to 38th this year. We have to stay focused. With the continuing improvements on the Razorback Greenway Trail in Northwest Arkansas plus upcoming completion of the Statewide Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan that the […]

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