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Video: A New Trail System for All Levels at Fitzgerald Mountain in Springdale, Arkansas

Mar 12, 2019
by Oz Trails  
Views: 7,822    Faves: 48    Comments: 8



Words by Zuzanna Sitek

The Mt. Fitzgerald experience is what can happen when you give an expert trail builder, who left his mark on some of the lines at Red Bull Rampage, 130 acres on the east side of Springdale and ask him to create a trail system that most levels of riders can get into. Jeremy Witek and the rest of his Rock Solid Trail Contracting crew took what Northwest Arkansas’ geology has to offer and turned it into armored trails, variously-sized jumps, and even bridges, so all the features are built with stone sourced from the property. I’m not sure if any of them know how to knit sweaters, but these builders sure know how to knit together dirt, rocks, and boulders into some of the most technical and interesting single track in the region.

To ride Mt. Fitzgerald, you can park at one of two lots. There’s Bayyari Park on Deer Valley Street, which can fill up fast if the conditions are just right, and the other is along Dodd Avenue behind a 19th-century homestead called Fitzgerald Station. The home and barn that are still there had once been a stop on the Butterfield Trail stagecoach mail route. It’s how the mountain and some of the trails on it got their name. I like to start my ride at Bayyari Park, which looks unassuming from the parking lot but is emblematic of the spectrum of riders who can have fun on this trail system.

Fitzgerald Mountain has some of the newest purpose built mountain bike trails in the Oz Trails network. These trails are located in Springdale AR and were completed in 2018. Pictured local riders from the NWA region. Photo by GH Studios

I take the green Stage Coach trail, which passes by a strider course for kids who are just learning to bike and go counterclockwise to get a look at the features on the miniature flow lines that are easily session-able before or after a proper trail ride. The features on the double-black line are anything but miniature though. Bridge Is Out! gets its name from the initial 10-foot drop with an 18-foot gap that will set you up for a rock take off and 30-foot gap landing that follows. The trail then rips into another kicker that sends riders into a 270-degree berm and between the stacked rocks that created the jump. The blue-black line called Barking Iron will take you over a rock bridge into a set of tabletop jumps, while Gully Washer provides a flowy, beginner-friendly jaunt down the hillside. Even if you don’t ride them, the stonemasonry on these trails alone is worth a look, which can be said about many parts of this system.

From Stage Coach, I’ll jump across Dodd Avenue onto a blue trail called Butterfield. It’s the more meandering of the two climbs to the top of the mountain, but the trail builders sprinkled in a few fun alternate lines for more advanced riders. My favorite feature is a boulder they turned into a lily pad where on one side there’s a stone take off onto the rock slab and on the other, there’s a drop. It’s just one of the examples of the ways Rock Solid wove Mother Nature’s existing work into their own.

Fitzgerald Mountain has some of the newest purpose built mountain bike trails in the Oz Trails network. These trails are located in Springdale AR and were completed in 2018. Pictured local riders from the NWA region. Photo by GH Studios

If I’m interested in a steeper and more technical climb, I’ll take Coyote Cave to the top instead, although this black trail makes for an incredibly satisfying descent back to the parking lot. The single track does actually pass a cave, but as far as I’ve been able to gather, the existence of a coyote is only hearsay. The other must-see is what can only be described as a wave of stacked stone that swoops in and out from between massive boulders and makes me feel like I’m surfing on rocks. As with all their other trails, the builders made sure to include features for riders looking for air time.

Once I’m at the top of Mt. Fitzgerald, I like to head straight for the affectionately-named Best Trail Ever loop and recommend riding it counterclockwise. Just like every trail in this system, it can be ridden in either direction. The descents are punctuated by optional kickers and sneaky rock gardens. Highlights include a wall ride made out of stone at the bottom of the first downhill portion and a rock chute that kicks off the second one. The climbs are made up of lengthy rock-armored sections of trail and skirt some of the many bluffs that decorate the mountain.

Fitzgerald Mountain has some of the newest purpose built mountain bike trails in the Oz Trails network. These trails are located in Springdale AR and were completed in 2018. Pictured local riders from the NWA region. Photo by Scott Schroen

The blue-rated Fitzgerald loop is a quick spin around the top of the mountain with a lookout point at downtown Springdale below. This is also how I get to a trail called 1857, a double-black diamond spur that drops below the bluff line. It’s only 0.1 miles, but it’s 0.1. miles of jagged and off-camber rock garden. To get back down to Bayyari Park, I’ll usually take Coyote Cave, but Butterfield is a great option as well. As a local rider who learns something new every time I ride here, my advice is to not let the technical portions of the trail dissuade you from checking it out. Walk if you have to and take in the trail design. And if you’re a more advanced rider, don’t let the 10-mile trail system fool you, it’ll feel like 20 when you’re done.


46 Comments

  • + 13
 Fitz is the best! As Zu said, the rockwork and natural beauty are worth the trip alone, then there's so many opportunities for progression and discovery as well. While I seem to discover a new favorite trail or area every couple of months here due to all the trail building, I keep coming back to Fitz as my favorite. Plus, you have the amazing Runway Bike Park and Pump Track nearby for post ride sessions and socializing.
  • + 8
 So rad to read people’s ideas and views like yours on this zone! The team did an amazing job on pushing threw this build and making it come to life! Hope to see you on the trail some time soon!
  • + 9
 Each year the trails out here get more and more ridiculous. Keep up the good work NWA
  • + 5
 Rock Solid builds some of the coolest trails and features out there. Do yourself a favor and check out their website, the Private trails they built have some mind blowing stonework. They have definitely are leaving their mark on NWA with trails systems like Fitz Mountain. They have been doing the same UP in Copper Harbor, MI as well. I am heading down to NWA in 4 weeks, this will be my second trip down to Bentonville from Chicago in the past year, so much new stuff the stoke is high.
  • + 8
 Added to my Trailforks wish list for next months trip down to NWA. Pumped
  • + 1
 Whoop whoop when it’s dry super it’s super fun and fast!
  • + 4
 Damn son. Coming from someone blessed enough to ride WA whenever I want, it's awesome to see places that don't get same love as us, OR, BC, NZ, and the Alps get. Based on this video alone, this region could be a destination soon if more stuff like this gets built. Even for people that are lucky enough to live in the established meccas.
  • + 3
 Truly flattering to see this video and system up on the main page and you to put it remotely close to the same as all the others you listed in any form! It’s a packed zone and I would say 65% of it is in this video.
  • + 1
 It's gonna get to that point, for sure. They have stated that as their goal! And money from the Walton Family Foundation keeps the new trails coming!
  • + 3
 This trail network is rad. Gotta be on your game for the rock jump gaps and inlaid rock segments on "Best Trail Ever". That place pushes me and humbles me every time. The Oz Trails network is getting ridiculous and there's no end in sight. At least 60 more miles will be built in 2019.
  • + 1
 Shredders, don't pass this video up. There's a nice 30 footer and plenty of shred in the video.
  • + 3
 All of this NW Arkansas tourism marketing is working on me. I live within two hours of some of the world's best riding, and I'm seriously considering a trip here in the future! The trails look insanely fun and unique. Good on ya NWA!
  • + 3
 My favorite part of seeing trail systems from different regions is seeing how natural materials get incorporated into the trails. Folks in Arkansas are clearly making good use of all that stone to make features, just like we use cedar up here. Looks like some awesome riding!
  • + 5
 Meanwhile back in California, the birthplace of the sport, we're mostly digging and riding on illegal trails....
  • + 2
 Been heading to NWA from K.C. at least 3 times year for the last 5 years, and have ridden at least 3 new trails every time I go! K.C. has a pretty good trail system but nothing compared to NWA. The way the community, businesses and state parks have come together to create what hey have now is amazing and gets better every day!
  • + 5
 Headed down on Thursday from MN, can’t wait to gtfo of this frozen tundra.
  • + 2
 Hope you've got Duluth on the menu! If all that snow ever melts..
  • + 1
 @DH17MTB: spend a lot of time in Duluth. It’s like a second home.
  • + 2
 Just got back from a trip to AR this last weekend. They now have 5 (paid) trail crews (around Bentonville) building about 1 mile of new trail pre-day. It's an absolutely amazing place that seems to grows exponentially every time time I visit. NWA is doing it right...
  • + 3
 And this is only a glimpse of what Fitz has to offer and barely a sliver of what Oz Trails has all together. Jeremy Witek and the Rock Solid crew built what trail dreams are made of.
  • + 4
 Team work makes the dream work!
  • + 2
 Man, I live in NWA and hadn't even heard of this place yet, although being close to several other awesome places to ride might explain that! One more to add to the list . . . Lots of rain lately, but amazing how fast these trails drain and recover. Great destination for mountain biking, even better to call it home now.
  • + 3
 Favorite local trail system! Simply so many features and small things to enjoy every time I go. Only 10 minutes from my house.
  • + 1
 I’m 15 min let’s rip it some time!
  • + 1
 @jeremywitek83: Same, I want in on this ride!
  • + 2
 How's early to mid April for Ar/Bentonville etc? Is there good riding to be had or way to rainy? Tough that to get a great price on an airline ticket you are taking a leap of fair weather wise?
  • + 2
 You should be good. We do get rain in Spring and if you happen to come on a rainy week, we have two trail networks that drain particularly well. One you can ride the day after 3" of rain. Happy to talk off line.
  • + 1
 I work in Springdale so Fitz is my goto trail. Rock Solid did a hell of a job! Fitz is prob my fav trails system in all of NW AR & that is a tough call these days. There are so many great places to ride now!

www.pinkbike.com/video/499478
  • + 3
 Wow the rock work there is amazing. Definitely hoping I can make it out there one day!
  • + 4
 Mtn biking candy land. This place rocks!
  • + 1
 So many rocks! Lol
  • + 1
 @jeremywitek83: rocks, need moar rocks.
  • + 1
 Your rail builders are on point! You guys are lucky that no rocks were removed! The FLOW BS in Santa Cruz is crap, don't know why there's even 6" travel Enduro bikes around there!
  • + 2
 Oddly enough I am heading there today, from Massachusetts, with a stop at Rays Bike Park in Cleveland. Gonna be a good road trip with the boys!
  • + 2
 Really cool how much of the trail features were built "natural" looking.

Cool vid work too!
  • + 3
 That music's sweet!!! Best sound track i've noticed in a long time.
  • + 4
 Thanks! Music selection is an art. Like good art, it's subjective. I feel like I found some great work that elevated the mood of the piece.
  • + 2
 Fitz is fun!!!!! Wear your armor though and don't try and run dat XC rubber in NWA!
  • + 1
 Agreed. I ride pretty light and am easy on tires. I thought I could get away with a Minion SS silkworm. I did one day, but not the next.
  • + 1
 Good work Rock Solid Trail crew!! Level of detail is awesome, art forms and all.
  • + 1
 Best riding I can get to for a weekend from Dallas is in Arkansas! Gonna get back up there soon!
  • + 2
 Gat Dayum....I gotta move back east
  • + 1
 Best video ever from a solid cast of characters!
  • + 1
 Looking forward to riding it this Saturday.
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