Perfect weather greeted mountain bikers for the 34th Annual Ozark Mountain Bike Festival
The Ozark Mountain Bike Festival is an annual event at Devil’s Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas, held in the early spring. It is a celebration of mountain biking, featuring various events such as group rides, clinics, races, and social gatherings. The festival typically attracts mountain bikers of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced riders, and offers opportunities to learn new skills, meet other riders, and explore the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains. This is the oldest mountain bike festival in the state and has run continuously for 34 years. You can read more about the history of this event in our article on the 25th Anniversary.
This year, the event featured beautiful weather with cool evenings and warming days. Lee Creek was running but the crossings could still be ridden. The trails were dry and the waterfalls were running. Assistant Park Superintendent, Tim Scott seemed to be everywhere getting the rides, clinics, and other scheduled fun started on time.
The Ozark Off-Road Cyclists do much of the support for the event including leading many of the rides, supporting the Saturday night dinner, and the bike toss. Nate Fields from Phat Tire Bike Shop was there taking care of bike service needs to keep everyone riding.
Scheduled Events included a night ride on Friday night. On Saturday, riders had to make choices all day. An e-bike-only ride started at 9 am followed by a bike tour of all of the park’s Monument Trails at 9:30 am and at 10:30 am a women-only ride on the historic Fossil Flats Trails. At 11 am, some local National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) coaches led a beginner riders workshop on Fossil Flats.
The Lee Creek “Big Splash” contest was at 12:30. This classic event was won by a participant dressed as Tim Scott and sporting his mannerisms. The crowd was impressed. We led the New Trail, Old Trail ride at 1:30 taking a group of riders on portions of both the classic Fossil Flats Trail and the newer Monument Trails. The kid’s skills clinic started at 2 pm with support from the Carroll Brothers. 2:30 pm brought the intermediate group ride that took riders on 15 miles of both Fossil Flats and the Historic Butterfield Trail. “The Hall/West Memorial” Poker Run on the Fossil Flats Trail started at 4 pm. Riders picked up playing cards at four stops along the trail and would get a fifth card at the cookout to win prizes.
The day came to the traditional close at the Cookout. Grilled chicken, hand-cranked ice cream, and the annual bike toss along with prize drawings finished the day on the perfect note. Those camping headed back to their campsites. Sunday morning brought one more chance to ride, participants were invited to head over to nearby Lake Fort Smith State Park for a ride on the beautiful trails in that park.
One of the great things about this event is that it’s all free to the participants (other than camping or cabin accommodations). This is due to all of the sponsors who step up year after year to support this traditional event. Even if you can’t make the event, we recommend finding a time to come explore these trails and spend the night in the campgrounds, historic cabins, or newer camper cabins. It’s a beautiful place.
Also, save the date Saturday, September 16, 2023, for the Northwest Arkansas Mountain Bike Championships at Devil’s Den State Park. (book your campsite or cabin today)