What to know
This is a wonderful short loop named for Mount Magazine – the highest peak in Arkansas at 2,753 feet. The Arkansas River carved out the valley to the north of the mountain, and the Petit Jean River carved the one to the south. The result is that this prominence has become one of the premier destinations in Arkansas. The 10-mile ride up AR 309 to Mount Magazine from Havana not only has switchbacks and tight curves, there’s also a huge elevation change as riders cruise up and over this wonderful geological feature. AR 309 at Havana starts out at an elevation of about 380 feet. The first mile is fairly pedestrian, but it soon reveals its twisty nature. By the time the road crests at Mount Magazine, it has risen out of the Petit Jean Valley over 2,200 feet above Havana. The ride up the mountainside is full of hairpins and tight curves often running through tunnels of heavy foliage. From the peak, AR 309 continues winding back down to about 490 feet at Paris. Together, the total elevation change is over 4,300 feet. The state park atop Mount Magazine features an impressive lodge and cabins with accommodations as magnificent as the scenic views. The other three legs of this loop are nice routes through the Arkansas River Valley and the Petit Jean Valley. These roads are scenic and run through a combination of farms and woodlands. While not as technically challenging, this stretch is pleasant and relaxing.