10 Best Mountain Bike Trails in Northwest Arkansas

Lake Atalanta
Lake Atalanta

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. 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.

3. 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. Slaughter Pen is located in Bentonville, a town which IMBA recently recognized as 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.

4. Railyard Bike Park

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.

5. Lake Leatherwood

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

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

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-worthy 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 by RootsRated for Visit Rogers, AR.

Featured image provided by Visit Rogers/Oztrailsnwa.com.