What to know
The state’s highest peak, Mount Magazine near Paris, has been likened to a Tour de France climb and was named the climb to do in Arkansas by Bicycling magazine. Needless to say, it tops our list of classic climbs for its stellar views, switchbacks, steep grades and that nine-mile pitch to the top. Starting in Havana on Hwy. 309 (Mount Magazine Scenic Byway), the 60-mile Mount Magazine Loop ascends the south side. The first two miles at 380 feet are fairly pedestrian, but the route quickly reveals its true nature as it rises some 2,200 feet out of the Petit Jean Valley. There are three long hills, each exceeding a mile in length with grades steeper than eight percent. Ouch. But, dig in, because those upticks are merely a set-up for the final 4.5-mile climb. The sign at the summit on Signal Hill is a welcome sight and a proper photo op. The Mount Magazine State Park visitor center is a good place for a cold Coca-Cola and brief respite before another two rolling miles to the Lodge at Mount Magazine. Featuring some of the finest accommodations in the state park system, it’s a fantastic overnighter and great reward for your effort. Descending on the north side of the mountain, you can do 40 mph easily. Turn left onto Hwy. 109 and travel through the town of Magazine, then make another left on Hwy. 10 toward HAVANA. The most traffic you will see will be on Hwy. 10 before turning back onto Hwy. 309.