Nebo is a little sky island paradise that has something for everyone. If you want to chill at the campground, go swimming, and take an easy hike, you can do that. If you want to mountain bike and camp in a more secluded spot even at a moment’s notice, you can do that. If you want to run, there are miles of routes on multiple surface types. If you just want to relax and drink in nature, you can do that, too! Such an underutilized gem in Central Arkansas that many can visit and enjoy with minimal planning. ~Ashley Gramza
Runners from all over the state come to Mt Nebo State Park each year in August to participate in the Mt Nebo Fun Run. The AURA-sponsored run with long-time race director Tom Aspel is well known for a difficult uphill finish in the Arkansas summer heat and humidity. Runners are provided a grand tour of the mountain: 14 miles around, down, and back up the hill to finish at the pavilion where hamburgers with all the fixings await. I convinced a couple of friends that our weekend would be well spent if we met up with our camping gear and mountain bikes in tow the night before the run. We bike-packed our camp gear into the CCC hike in campsites along the Bench Trail, set up camp, and set out on a ride on one of my favorite trails, Miller’s Goat.
The bike-in sites are situated on the Bench trail with direct access to Miller’s Goat mountain bike trail. They are the perfect location for those wanting a little more seclusion than the campground. There’s no water or electricity in the primitive sites and they are first come first served, but we’ve always been able to get a site even on a weekend night. With one large tent pad and plenty of trees, we had one tent and two hammocks up in no time.
After a great ride, we had a quick pitstop at our cars for snacks and cold beverages before riding back to camp.
We shared a meal and a couple of cold beverages around the picnic table before making sure we had our gear ready for the early morning run. We all crawled into our choice of sleeping setups and fell asleep to the night sounds of the woods. Awake before dawn, a pre-run breakfast was prepared by headlamp. The sun was lighting up the sky beyond the trees by the time we headed from the campsite to the pavilion for the start of the run.
The 2 miles of steep uphill to the finish line is a challenge to many, while others were seen coming down after finishing to do it all over again.
Not our first rodeo, read contributor Cliff Li’s run report from Mount Nebo in 2015.