Last Thursday I was given the opportunity to take a 10-hour road trip south on I-35 in search of warmer weather and dry singletrack. The thought of leaving behind the sub-freezing temps in Minneapolis was enticing, but the chance to get on my mountain bike and ride some trails I had never seen before sealed the deal. That night I packed my bag, gave my El Mariachi Ti a once over, and prepared for a long road trip the next day.
The plan was to stop in Kansas City to meet some friend’s, ride the local trails, and then keep heading south to Arkansas. When we got to the trailhead there was snow on the ground and the temps were hovering above freezing. I was alright with this as I was still excited to be on a mountain bike again. The trail we rode was still covered in snow, some of the creek crossings were frozen, but it was still mountain biking and I was happy to be out. We rode for just over an hour, completing one full loop, then got back into the car for 4 more hours, destination Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
The plan was to arrive in Eureka Springs, grab a bite to eat, and then meet up with Denton West, owner of Adventure Mountain Outfitters. When we arrived at the shop Denton was already geared up and waiting for us. Denton generously let the six of us use his small shop to change back into our gear and get ready for the ride ahead. As we rolled out of town Denton informed us that his son Cory was going to ride along and help guide our tour of trails around Eureka Springs. We soon found out Cory is a professional motorcycle road racer and has a lot of carryover mountain bike skills. Cory took the lead and so began our 3-hour tour.
It had been a long time since I had smiled for 3 hours straight while on my bike. It had also been a long time since I had ridden with temps in the high 40’s. The trails around Lake Leatherwood were awesome and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. As we ripped down the rocky singletrack I could constantly hear screams of enjoyment coming from our group. Even on the sustained technical uphills there was still some laughter to be heard. As the sun was setting and our ride was almost complete, Denton called it quits and went back to the shop and Cory showed us two more secret little gems that no out-of-towner would stumble upon. These sections were crazy, dropping in from the parking lot of the city bank and ending on the walkway of an old motel building. All the trails in the area blew my mind. They were technically demanding, had some flowing downhills, and some good-sized uphills that tested my legs.
Arriving back at Adventure Mountain Outfitters, Denton was again waiting for us with post-ride beers. The group all cleaned up and finished off the night eating dinner in town and getting to know our new friends Denton and Cory.
If you are ever looking for a new place to ride and haven’t been to Arkansas, I highly recommend going to Eureka Springs. Every July the host a fat tire festival which includes a mix of cross country races, a downhill, and fun rides. I also recommend calling Adventure Mountain Outfitters to see if you can get hooked up with a guided tour.
Arkansas did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. -Ryan