Top 10 Arkansas Mountain Bike Trail Systems

Top 10 Mountain Bike Trail Systems in Arkansas – 2023

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We last provided a top 10 list of Arkansas Mountain Bike Trail Systems in September of 2021. With the constant growth of trail systems in the state, it was well past time to survey our readers on their favorite trail system in the state. Again, we asked our readers to pick their three favorites from our long list of trail systems. We enjoy well over 1000 miles of mountain bike trails in Arkansas including 5 International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic Trails, 4 Arkansas State Park Monument Trails, and the hundreds of miles that fall under the OZ Trail banner. It’s not an easy task to choose a favorite.

We’d also like to remind you that this list:

  • is not scientific.
  • is not based on the number of people riding the trail.
  • is not our favorites list.
  • is not a list of all the trails in the state.
  • is not broken out by trail types (cross country, enduro, flow, downhill, etc.)

This list is a great bucket list of places to ride in the state. Let us know in the comments which ones you’ve ridden and which ones you’re looking forward to riding. We’ve added links to Trailforks and MTBProject maps when available and,  Pro Tips for those planning a trip and want to do it right. New this year is a map at the end of the article showing the location of all the top 15 within the state and an arrow after each of the top 10 systems showing if they moved up, down, or stayed the same on the list from last year.

Honorable Mentions go to these trail systems which came in 11-15 place:

  1. Mount Kessler – Fayetteville – TrailForks|MTBProject
  2. Womble Trail – Mount Ida – TrailForks|MTBProject
  3. Centennial Park – Fayetteville – TrailForks|MTBProject
  4. Lake Leatherwood – Eureka Springs – TrailForks|MTBProject
  5. Syllamo – Mountain View – TrailForks|MTBProject

Now for your Top 10 Mountain Bike Trail Systems in Arkansas for 2023

(#10) 4.5% of the vote

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail ⇑ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

One of the 5 International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic Trails in the state giving Arkansas more Epics than any other state, the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail or LOViT features both beautiful riding and scenic views of Lake Ouachita. Traveling the length of the south side of the lake, LOViT was recently a part of the Ouachita Triple Crown portion of the Arkansas High Country Race which started and finished in Hot Springs. The route of the race included two other nearby Epics, the Womble and the Ouachita National Recreation Trail.

Pro Tip – Stay at one of the many lakeside resorts along the trail for a quiet getaway or stay in Hot Springs where you have the opportunity to enjoy spas and nightlife.

(#9) 4.6% of the vote

Pinnacle Mountain State Park ⇓ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Pinnacle Mountain State Park (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Pinnacle Mountain State Park (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

Besides its incredible riding with flowy trails and heart-pounding elevation changes, the proximity of this trail system to Little Rock makes it extremely popular. One of the 4 Monument Trail systems in the state, the trail was built with care for the surrounding environment and sustainability in mind.

See also  Hot Springs’ Northwoods Trails to Host Mountain Biking Southern Enduro Tour Marathon

Pro Tip – If you’re looking for more than the 18 miles of mountain bike trails the park offers, take some time to enjoy the nearby trails at Rattlesnake Ridge or hike the East Summit Trail to the top of Pinnacle Mountain for a great view of Central Arkansas.

(#8) 5.4% of the vote

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area ⇓ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Hobbs State Park - Conservation Area (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

The first of the Monument Trail Systems, Hobbs is known for its ability to be rideable shortly after wet weather. The Monument Trails consist of 4 trail systems in Arkansas State Parks professionally built to be among the best anywhere and to incorporate the “feel” of the park. Hobbs has had very nice mountain bike trails since 2005 and is host to the Battle for Townsend Ridge Mountain Bike Race.

Pro Tip – Bring a lunch and stop lakeside along the Karst Loop Trail or better yet, book one of the bike-in campsites in the Summer and cool off in the lake.

(#7) 5.5% of the vote

Back 40/Little Sugar/Blowing Springs ⇓ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Little Sugar Trail System, Bella Vista
Little Sugar Trail System, Bella Vista

Located in Bella Vista, once a retirement community between Bentonville and the Missouri state line, This vast trail system of nearly 100 miles offers loads of cross-country trails interspersed with jump and flow parks. The trails utilize POA space between ridgetop homes and flow below and above bluff lines.

Pro Tip – Enjoy a meal at the new Shredders Public House on Highway 71 or have a cold brew at the Gear Garden in Blowing Springs.

(#5 tie) 5.8% of the vote

Devil’s Den State Park ⇑ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Devil's Den State Park (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Devil’s Den State Park (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

Another Monument Trail, this system is known for the unique rock work that has to be seen to be believed. There are also bike-in campsites, full-service campgrounds, historic full-feature cabins, and new camper cabins to enjoy. Ride below bluff lines, behind waterfalls, and on stone-paved pathways.

Pro Tip – If the cabins or campgrounds are full, opt for nearby Lake Fort Smith State Park which also has a beautiful mountain bike trail system.

(#5 tie) 5.8% of the vote

Coler Bike Preserve ⇓ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Coler Mountain Bike Preserve
Coler Mountain Bike Preserve

Have you never heard of a Bike Preserve? Think about the perfect place to go ride, you’ll find Coler to check off most of the boxes. Big jump lines, flowy fun, classic cross country, and a dual slalom course for settling arguments. Vehicles park on the perimeter of the park with a coffee shop/pub/taco stand in the middle that can only be reached by foot or bike. They also have several reservable campsites.

Pro Tip – Bentonville recently built protected bike lanes that connect Coler, the Square, and the Slaughter Pen Trail System. Use it.

(#4) 6.2% of the vote

Iron Mountain ⇑ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Iron Mountain Trails
Iron Mountain Trails. (photo courtesy of Bob Black-Ocken)

If Arkansas had a sixth Epic trail, this author thinks it would be Iron Mountain. Over 30 miles of beautiful trail on the south side of Lake DeGray with great flow, rocky sections, and wonderful views of the lake. This has been home to several mountain bike races and Xterras plus the Degray Lake Triathlon. This is a favorite of riders from Texas and Louisiana.

See also  We Want To Know - Your 3 Favorite Mountain Bike Trails

Pro Tip – Bring your bathing suit in the Summer and take a dip in DeGray Lake.

(#3) 7.3% of the vote

Slaughter Pen/Handcut Hollow ⇔ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Slaughter Pen Trails
Slaughter Pen Trails

The first system in Bentonville continues to grow and improve. Handcut Hollow came along in the last few years to give riders a more traditional feel and the new Castle runs are among the best flow/jump lines in the state. All can be accessed from the town square where visitors will find plenty of food options and bike shops.

Pro Tip – Bring the family with you and take the kids by the Scott Amazeum for a little extra fun.

(#2) 11.3% of the vote

Mount Nebo State Park ⇓ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Mount Nebo State Park (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Mount Nebo State Park (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

The fourth Monument Trail System on the list (yes, they all made it), Mount Nebo has it all. Start with the Three C’s Trail to warm up or for beginner riders, move down to Millers Goat to get a bit more speed, rocky sections, and great flow. Once you’ve mastered that, there are the big downhills, the remote Chickalah Loop, and the gnarly Lizard Tail. This trail system will be used as the opener for the Big Mountain Enduro Series this Spring.

Pro Tip – All of the Arkansas State Parks have a passport program, pick one up at the visitor center and start knocking them out.

(#1) 18.2% of the vote

Northwoods/Cedar Glades ⇑ – TrailForks|MTBProject

Northwoods/Cedar Glades (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Northwoods/Cedar Glades (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

Combining the old-school trails at Cedar Glades with the newer Northwoods Trails makes this system a go-to for everyone. New trails and new events seem to pop up yearly. Whether you want great jump lines, classic cross country, or techy turny sections, this place has it. On top of that it has its own management team that keeps it in tip-top shape.

Pro Tip – Two words, Ohio Club. Look it up, go there.

Arkansas Cycling & Fitness.

Summary – While the trail systems under the OZ umbrella certainly did well, note that all of the Monument Trail Systems made it into the top 10 again and 3 of the IMBA Epic Trail Systems made it into the top 15. Also, all of the major trail systems in the Ouachita Mountains made the top 15. While these represent the favorites among our readers, the perfect trail for you may not even make this list so do your homework, check out the trail conditions Facebook groups, and go have fun.

Top 15 Arkansas Mountain Bike Trail Systems Map - Plan accordingly.
Top 15 Arkansas Mountain Bike Trail Systems Map – Plan accordingly.

Make sure to check out the survey page monthly to participate in the latest Arkansas Outside Survey.

Norfork Adventure Supply

4 Responses

  1. Only reason I stop in AR is Lake Leatherwood DH Trails. So fun! Personally I couldn’t care less about the XC or XC with features trails which are the only other ones I’ve found in the state. Happy that the people who like that kind of thing have so much of it and still super appreciative of how bike and e-bike supportive the state is. It should be a model for others.

    1. Check out the DH trails at Ponca, about an hour+ east of Lake Leatherwood. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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