Get ready for a family fun weekend of mountain biking at Devil’s Den State Park in West Fork during the annual Ozark Mountain Bike Festival set for April 4-6. You can ride one of the first mountain bike trails in the state while celebrating the 26th anniversary of this event.
Along with scheduled bike rides, the popular festival includes many other fun events, including an evening social. Test your biking skills as you pedal along on guided mountain bike rides over rolling, rocky terrain and creeks too. Riders of all experience levels are welcome and rides vary in length and difficulty. Each ride will be geared to a group’s overall ability, so any level of rider can find a ride appropriate to his or her skills.
The festival also helps riders learn the park’s trails. Tim Scott, assistant superintendent at the park, said some of the bike trails at Devil’s Den are tight, single tracks, while others are wide, double tracks. “Some of them are flat. The relief may not change more than 100 feet,” Scott explained. “Depending on how adventurous they want to be, some trails have descents anywhere from 400 feet to 500 feet.”
The trails also vary in length. For example, “the Fossil Flats mountain bike system is really kind of three trails in one. One section of that trail system is three miles long, but can be extended to four or five miles by riding additional loops. Some of the rides will use a combination of trails,” he explained.
“The terrain at the park is perfect for mountain biking activities,” Scott added. “With the development of other trails in the area, the popularity of the sport in northwest Arkansas continues to grow.” The Ozark Mountain Bike Festival was one of the first, if not the first mountain bike event in the state, he added.
Participants usually include beginners who want to learn about the sport, or people that have just moved to the area and want to become familiar with the trails before striking out on their own. Scott said newbies don’t need to be intimidated to attend because the beginner rides are designed for the novice mountain biker and will go at a beginner pace.
Experienced riders attend to meet other mountain bikers and converse with them about other places to ride. The experienced bikers also enjoy the opportunity to ride with peers that are just as fast.
Kids can get in on the action too at the Kids’ Fun Course, where kids test their biking skills weaving around cones, riding a skinny and teeter-toter, and limboing. Scott said about any age can enjoy the fun course but those participating in other events need to be “old enough to be able to negotiate a trail, which is usually around the ages of 8 to 10 and up.”
Plenty of fun, social elements are included in the festival mix, as are some learning opportunities.
Those attending can plan to spend the night, or just attend the festival for the day. “Absolutely the best way to attend the festival is to camp,” Scott added. Camping and cabins are available at Devil’s Den; but, cabin reservations usually go quickly. Group camping is available too. Also, bike vendors selling supplies or making bike repairs are usually available during the festival.
Family members of bike festival participants often use their time to explore the park. Devil’s Den has hiking and backpacking trails that lead to caves, crevices and bluff overlooks. The park store offers groceries and gifts. The horse camp area includes riding trails and a bathhouse.
Admission is free and all riders are required to wear a helmet.
To reach the park, travel eight miles south of Fayetteville on Interstate 540 to exit 53 at West Fork, then go 17 miles southwest on Ark. 170; or exit I-540 at exit 45 at Winslow and go seven miles west on Ark. 74. Note, trailers longer than 26 feet should use exit 53.