With mountain bike trail names like these… any guesses where to find them?
*Back 40, Tunnel Vision, Tweety Bird, Blowing Springs, Little Sugar, Danger Will Robinson, Whiskey Tango, Shock & Awe, Lago Vista, Tavistock Canyon, Snack Attack, Stagger Wing, Ruth's Revenge, Huntley Gravity Zone*…
Bella Vista, Arkansas, is home to this jackpot of mountain bike and single-track fun! The fun trail names are just the beginning of your experience on two wheels in the land of Oz Trails in northwest Arkansas. If you are a mountain biker and have a penchant for road tripping, find mountain bike mecca here and outdoor therapy at its finest.
Josh and I made our inaugural visit to the area in the spring of 2017. Bella Vista's biking scene made an impression because we've returned many times since then to experience what feels like a giant mountain bike amusement park. We've shared our knowledge with travel buddies back in Michigan. Upon hearing our enthusiastic reviews, some decided to join us for a visit. They fell pretty hard, too, because this past fall, Kim and Steve bought a home in Bella Vista that sits across the street from the Kingsdale Golf Course and a mere 300-foot pedal to Tunnel Vision. Their bike-in bike-out home away has been affectionately named The CycloTherapy Center for its therapeutic staying power and bike-centric amenities. Spending time and riding bikes with friends is the best kind of group therapy!
Have you tried an E-bike? Is it for everyone and everywhere? While e-bike usage is debated on some trail systems around the country, Josh and I decided trying it for ourselves would be the best way to be an informed bike citizen. The Ozarks may not seem mountainous at first, but after a few rollercoaster ridges, ups and downs, you'll realize there's plenty of vertical. After several days of human-powered pedaling and home-improvement projects at the CycloTherapy Center, it was time for battery power and an e-bike experience. The Phat Tire Bikes crew (brand new location in Bella Vista) got us set up and fitted with rentals. We rode right from the shop and tested all four settings from Eco, Tour, E-MTB, to Turbo. It's a game changer, especially when sessioning a gravity zone area requires many return uphills. Instead of four runs on jelly legs, make it 10, 12, or more on E-power. I'd suggest Huntley Gravity Zone in Little Sugar, Staggerwing area, or hit turbo and head to the Castle or Coler Preserve in nearby Bentonville.
What are the trails like? The trail builders describe the soil as churt (chunk and dirt). Imagine a brick factory where a giant explosion sent a million golf-ball-sized chunks flying in all directions. The secret sauce is the quantity and quality of the trails, from cross-country to techy, with options for beginners, families, intermediate, and experts. The bonus, every time we return, there's another new trail to experience, or one of my favorites (Tango Whiskey at Huntley) got an upgrade with optional features. It's a bike-in, bike-out beauty where the car stays in the garage, not the bikes!
This trip, we got buzzed up on hefty doses of Little Sugar Trails and used Tunnel Vision to connect to the new tunnel being built under Riordan Road, near the newly built Tavistock Canyon and Snack Attack. Josh gave a solid thumbs up to Staggerwing and its connected downhill lines, especially Ruth's Revenge, so he could test his technical ability along a narrow rock ledge. On one of our six riding days, I got my cross-country fix on a solo ride – my route: Lago Vista right from Bison Bikes parking lot to Tunnel Vision past Windsor lake and Tanyard Falls; I rolled by Sasquatch and some other woodland creatures before finishing up with a rollicking downhill to Kingsdale Golf Course then rolled into the CycloTherapy house.
All the painting and pedaling made us hungry, so thankfully, Bella Vista is home to several bike-in options. Hot off the grill is Shredder's Public House, connected to the Back 40 trail system. They serve tasty fuel like pizzas, burgers, and recovery drinks (craft beer). Choose inside or out at their expansive patio space, with bike racks, fire pits, and places to lounge the tired legs. On bikes or by car, we also hit up BV Bar & Grill for a sunset dinner with views of the Country Club Golf Course. And we continued our post-ride pizza tradition from local favorite, Gusano's with takeout that we noshed on the back deck in lounge chairs. From our perch, a bonfire popping creating sparks, we watched the multi-colored Ozark sunset illuminate the sky before dark.
Find your way here for a CycloTherapy vacation or stay a while. Bella Vista is a place for bikes, besties, burgers, and beers!
The Bridge and River tour is a scenic 3-hour bicycle tour will take you from the Upper West Side of New York City up and over the George Washington Bridge for a ride along the river on Route 9W. Get the full touring experience and leave New York City for a few hours. During the ride, we make stops at Grants Tomb Memorial on the Upper West Side.