Good news for outdoor enthusiasts. Word has come this way that construction is set to begin next month on a large scale trail project in Hot Springs. The overall route is a planned 44.6-mile system of mountain biking trails on the city-owned Northwoods/Cedar Glades properties in the northern section of town.
The first phase of this project will start next month and encompasses 16.6 miles of singletrack mountain bike trail. The first phase is expected to be finished next fall and the second phase of the project will start after this. The project is being collaboratively financed by the Walton Family Foundation and Visit Hot Springs and is being built by the International Mountain Biking Association’s (IMBA) Trail Solutions program. “IMBA’s complete plan proposes over 44 miles of trails built to various skill levels and rider abilities,” said Hot Springs Parks and Trails Director Director Jean Wallace. “Hikers and trail runners will also be able to enjoy these trails.”
“The Northwoods Urban Wilderness Park natural surface trails are identified in the City of Hot Springs Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan,” added Wallace. “Once complete, these trails will offer a recreational opportunity as well as a transportation connection from the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail to historic downtown Hot Springs through the Northwoods trails to Garland County’s Cedar Glades Park and ultimately to the IMBA Epic Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT). Also, the new Southwest Trail proposed to connect Little Rock to Hot Springs will eventually become a regional connector to the Northwoods trails.”
“IMBA Trail Solutions is the premier mountain biking trail development leader,” Arrison said in a news release sent out by Visit Hot Springs about the project. “They will guide us in planning, design and construction of a trail system that will provide high-quality experiences for visitors and residents while minimizing environmental impacts in the treasure that the Northwoods/Cedar Glades property affords our city.” The release stated that the organization has developed more than 350 natural-surface bike-optimized trail projects in North America, Europe and Asia.
Hot Springs has also been rated as a bronze level ride center by IMBA and three IMBA Epic trails are nearby including the state’s newest Epic,108 miles of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, a long distance hiking trail through the Ouachita National Forest. This designated section of the route currently holds title as the longest mountain biking trail in the state. Other nearby Epic trails include the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail and the Womble Trail. Arkansas is also home to other Epic routes around the state including the Upper Buffalo Trail and the Syllamo Trails.