What to know
ROUTE #21: Most rivers start as a trickle up in the mountains, but the Spring River in northern Arkansas starts as a full-blown river, gushing out from Mammoth Spring, the seventh-largest spring in the world. Nine million gallons of water an hour pour over a 1900s-era dam to birth the Spring River. The spring, lake and dam are the focal points of Mammoth Spring State Park. The old Frisco Depot and retired 1900s gristmill turned electric generating plant are fascinating museums documenting the area’s history. Spring River Country – Cherokee Village, Hardy and Mammoth Spring – features unique shops, lodging and dining opportunities. From Cherokee Village, it’s just a short hop over to the historic railroad town of Hardy. The ride north on US 63 to Mammoth Spring is scenic and serpentine. AR 289 south out of Mammoth Spring is made up of easy sweepers through a patchwork of thick timber and pastures. A short jaunt east on US 412 to Ash Flat, then south a couple of miles on US 167 will connect you with the next segment of your ride, east on AR 56. This run, as well as the next ride south on AR 9 to Melbourne, is through beautiful farmland on the top of the Ozarks Plateau, dotted with numerous stands of trees. AR 9 out of Melbourne once again takes you into the mountains, running up and down and along the steep ridges of the Ozarks. AR 9 is a technically challenging ride that connects with AR 5, just north of Mountain View, the Folk Music Capital of the World. Mountain View has a history steeped in hill culture, and the area is home to one of the best-known folk musicians in the nation, the late Jimmy Driftwood. In keeping with that tradition, Ozark Folk Center State Park preserves the sounds and spirit of the Ozarks. AR 5 South winds over the highlands between Mountain View and Drasco on AR 25. From Drasco, AR 92 West takes you to the Greers Ferry Lake region and the intersection of AR 16. Riding west on AR 16 takes you to the resort/retirement community of Fairfield Bay on the lake. The lake area offers numerous lodging and dining opportunities along with water-oriented recreational activities off your bike.