10 Best Mountain Bike Trails in Northwest Arkansas

Lake Atalanta is a local favorite trail.
Lake Atalanta is a local favorite trail. Visit Rogers/Oztrailsnwa.com
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Northwest Arkansas (NWA) is a mountain biker’s mecca. Good weather, active, community-driven cycling advocates, and a lifetime of trails of varying length, difficulty, and style keep riders busy. Think of Rogers, Arkansas as the hub, set in the center of the action with spokes heading to epic areas like Bentonville and Fayetteville. Start with local favorites such as Lake Atalanta and the Railyard before heading out to must-do rides in the region.

1. Lake Atalanta

Distance from Rogers: 2 miles** Mileage: Up to 10 miles ***Difficulty: Beginner to expert*

Atalanta is a local favorite for many reasons. It’s close to town yet offers up the lush beauty of a typical Ozark forest. The riding is fantastic as well, with bermed turns and fun wooden features throughout. The best part is that riders of varying skills can go together—many of the trails fork off, then meet up again, so the group is never too far apart from each other.

2. Railyard Bike Park

Railyard Bike Park is an important part of what makes northwest Arkansas a fantastic, well-rounded biking destination.
Railyard Bike Park is an important part of what makes northwest Arkansas a fantastic, well-rounded biking destination. Lisa Tolan

Distance from Rogers: 0! It’s right in town** Mileage: Varies ***Difficulty: Beginner to expert*

This urban bike park is a local’s dream come true: world-class terrain, jumps, and obstacles all right in the heart of Rogers. Literally right downtown, riders of all ages and skill levels can jump, huck, wall ride, pump, and shred on professionally built, crisscrossing trails and obstacles, including its signature train car. It’s the perfect place to introduce new, young, riders to the sport, or for experienced riders to hone their skills. It’s also connected to the 40 miles of paved bike paths that weave through town and to the Atalanta trail system.

3. Blowing Springs

Distance from Rogers: 14 miles** Mileage: 6 miles ***Difficulty: Easy to advanced*

Accessible from Slaughter Pen and the Back 40, Blowing Springs has some of the best panoramic views of any park in the region. The riding is also stellar, with trails suitable for all ages and skill levels. There are exposed cliff lines, natural springs, and its namesake cavern, which blows out a constant breeze of 60-degree air.

4. Slaughter Pen Bike Park

Distance from Rogers: 11 miles** Mileage: 20+ miles ***Difficulty: Beginner to expert*

Slaughter Pen is considered by many to be the best trail system in the state. Located in Bentonville, the IMBA recently awarded the town a Silver-level Ride Center (one of only 11 in the world!). Slaughter Pen is what happens when there is cooperation between a city and its riders. It’s one of the prime examples of urban singletrack and serves as a model for cities around the country. With miles of varying trails spread out over three phases, there is plenty of riding for every skill level. Several of the trails have optional lines with log rides, drops, jumps, or wall rides, all with bypasses for less aggressive riders. There is a freeride area with a few downhill runs, big drops, and table tops. It’s also perfectly situated with connections to Lake Bella Vista and the Blowing Springs trails.

5. Lake Leatherwood

Varied terrain keeps the fun high at Lake Leatherwood.
Varied terrain keeps the fun high at Lake Leatherwood. Granger Meador

Distance from Rogers: 31 miles** Mileage: 25+ miles ***Difficulty: Easy to advanced*

Lake Leatherwood is where riders go to test their climbing legs. Punchy, techy, climbs and diverse terrain make for balanced rides that challenge several biking skills. Be sure to hit Miner’s Rock Trail. The ascent is tough, but the unusual namesake rock formation and meandering downhill make it all worth it. Keep a lookout for bald eagles soaring above.

6. Coler Mountain Bike Preserve

Distance from Rogers: 13 miles** Mileage: 6 miles ***Difficulty: Easy to advanced*

Coler’s design is genius. The trails start from "The Hub," a central intersection at the highest point, where riders group, talk trash, and choose their routes downhill. They meet again at the bottom and select their routes back uphill. Riders of all levels have options suitable to their abilities, from rolling, casual greens to 12-foot drops, all set among lush woodlands.

7. The Back 40

Lake Atalanta trail is close to town, yet offers up the lush beauty of a typical Ozark forest.
Lake Atalanta trail is close to town, yet offers up the lush beauty of a typical Ozark forest. Visit Rogers/Oztrailsnwa.com

Distance from Rogers: 13 miles** Mileage: 22 miles ***Difficulty: Moderate*

If there is time for only one ride while in Arkansas, this may be it. This trail was professionally built FOR mountain bikes BY mountain bikers, and proudly boasts some of the most varied, scenic, interesting, terrain for two wheels. Riders roll over a hanging bridge built into a bluff, cross streams, pass by waterfalls, and can rail berms, jump rollers, and lock into the flow all day long.

8. Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail/Hobbs State Park

Distance from Rogers: 14 miles** Mileage: 24 miles ***Difficulty: Easy to intermediate*

Smooth, fast, and unique—that’s the best way to quickly describe this place. Nestled in deep pine forest, it’s a little different from the Ozark-esque woods closer to Rogers. This is the place to go if the other trails are muddy. Great for single-speeders and moderate riders who want to push their cornering and flow rather than hucking and bashing through technical trails.

9. Upper Buffalo Headwaters IMBA Epic

Buffalo Headwaters is a collection of trails that cruise through classic Ozark landscapes.
Buffalo Headwaters is a collection of trails that cruise through classic Ozark landscapes. Dan Davis

Distance from Rogers: 73 miles** Mileage: 40 miles ***Difficulty: Easy to advanced*

This is one of five IMBA Epic Rides in Arkansas. Piercing deep into the Ozark National Forest, this truly adventurous ride has everything: tight ribbons of singletrack with long climbs, longer descents, rock gardens, creek crossings, you name it. The overall difficulty is intermediate, with short sections of both easier and harder sections here and there. If this mileage seems like too much, it’s easy to trim it down. Bring the camera for this one, the scenery is stunning with Instagram-worth steep cliffs, sweeping vistas, crystal-blue waterfalls, and lots of wildlife, all in old-growth, hardwood forests.

10. Mount Kessler

Distance from Rogers: 25 miles** Mileage: 7 miles ***Difficulty: Moderate to advanced*

Mt. Kessler is in Fayetteville, itself an IMBA Bronze-level Ride Center. Ride tight singletrack, challenging rock gardens, and through house-sized boulders while traversing beneath the shade of old-growth forest and steep, moss-covered bluffs. Even though it is close to town, there’s a distinct, quiet, backcountry feel to the area. Do not miss riding through the mini-slot canyon on Rock City or the views from the top of Spellbound.

Originally written for Visit Rogers, AR.

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