A new 7.6-mile trail system has been recently opened by The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas at Blue Mountain Natural Area. The system was constructed by Affordable Trail Solutions (ATS), a trail contractor, with the help of staff and volunteers. The system caters to beginners to intermediate-level mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners. The total cost of the project was $290,000, with most of the funding coming from a private donation. According to Sam Bates, the Recreation Technician at The Nature Conservancy, ATS built all of the trails except for five bridges. An Eagle Scout Project was responsible for the completion of a portion of trail armoring. For more on how Blue Mountain became a Natural Area, read our article from last December.
The trails at Blue Mountain are now fully completed, including the final segment of the 3.7-mile-long Tarantula Hawk Trail. This trail connects the Blue Mountain trails to those at Rattlesnake Ridge. The trails at Blue Mountain are suitable for mountain biking and are categorized as easy (green) and intermediate (blue). The first trail from the Highway 10 parking lot is the 3.1-mile Luna Moth Trail, a loop trail that can be traveled in either direction. If you choose to go left (clockwise), the Luna Moth Trail leads to an intersection. You can stay on the trail by going straight or take the 0.8-mile Dhu Drop Trail by turning right. If you go left, you’ll find the more challenging Tarantula Hawk Trail.
If you choose to take the Tarantula Hawk Trail, you’ll come across a smooth and flowing path that gradually ascends. This section of the trail is breathtaking and skillfully crafted. However, be alert for mountain bikers as it can be speedy when traveling in the opposite direction. As you progress, the trail descends and intersects with an old dirt road. The trail becomes more challenging from this point forward, with rugged climbs and descents. At one point, you’ll reach the top of a rocky outcrop, where you’ll want to pause and admire the stunning view of the Ouachita Mountains. The trail continues in this manner until meeting up with the Lower Kanob Trail, which is part of Rattlesnake Ridge. The Tarantula Hawk Trail remains technical until its conclusion at the Luna Moth Trail.
The Dhu Drop Trail runs through the heart of Luna Moth and is perfect for beginner mountain bikers. It boasts exciting bridge features and rock rollovers that even those with less experience can easily navigate. Check out the video below to see for yourself.
(link to video: https://youtu.be/B9Le5M1gkII)
The trails are well marked and there is a map at the trailhead (#protip – take a picture of it with your phone before heading out). UPDATE: Online maps are now available on Trailforks. The Highway 10 Trailhead can be found by going west on 10 like you’re going to Lake Maumelle, the fenced-in parking lot is on the right just before heading up the hill where you get your first view of the lake. During times when the trail may be too wet to ride, the gate to the parking lot will be closed. It is recommended that you check the Rattlesnake Ridge Facebook Group for updates before heading out.
More on future trail connections in the area is explained in this Arkansas Times article.