Wheel A’ Mena bicycle tour in Mena
Each year, Mena is the scene of the Wheel A’ Mena. The event, which takes place September 17 this year, is a bicycle tour of the Ouachita Mountains via the Talimena Scenic Drive. The tour is based out of Mena,which is at the foot hills of Rich Mountain, which at 2,681 feet, is the second tallest mountain in the state.
Three tour distances ( 70 miles, 50 miles, and 30 miles) are offered, with routes taking riders past local attractions like Queen Wilhelmina State Park. There will be rest stops and feed stations available on the course, which is billed as a tune-up ride for the popular Big Dam Bridge 100 miler in Little Rock September 24.
Of note, the routes include challenging climbs but there are also multiple rest stops along the course. For more details on the ride, click here or check out their facebook page here. The tour, which starts at 8 a.m. at Janssen Park, is $50 for pre-registration and $65 for on-site registration. More details can be found by calling 479-394-1960.
Along with cycling, Mena is known for mountain biking trails like the Earthquake Ridge Trail and the Ouachita National Recreational Trail, an IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) Epic route. The community was founded in 1896 as a railroad town and is the eastern terminus of the winding Talimena Scenic Drive, which provides expansive views of the Ouachita Mountains. The Mena Kansas City Southern Depot in town greets visitors with history exhibits and railroad memorabilia. In Janssen Park you’ll find a 1851 log cabin still on its original site.
Downtown Mena lies in an ideal location, situated at the bottom of the Talimena Scenic Drive. This road leads to Queen Wilhelmina State Park,home to a recently renovated lodge where one can take in panoramic views from Rich Mountain. Downtown is home to an Arts District that includes outlets like the Ouachita Little Theater (a mainstay in town since the 1920s), the Mena Art Gallery, and restaurants like American Artisans and Skyline Cafe. A recent influx of antique stores have also opened downtown. The town is also home to the Wolf Pen Gap ATV Trails. This was the first trail system built specifically for four wheelers in the Ouachita National Forest.