: Mark Matthews
The trip began right in Bentonville, the self-proclaimed "Mountain Biking Capital of The World!" Despite being unfamiliar with the trails, I was intrigued by the buzz generated by the Bentonville Bike Fest and all the positive reviews circulating. I couldn't help but wonder if Arkansas would truly deliver an experience that would rival other world-class areas.
Lake Leatherwood had the biggest lines.
An amazing variety of trails in Coler Mountain Bike Reserve.
Impressive wood work in the Boneyard!
Well built flow trails intertwined throughout town.
Upon arrival, it didn't take long to realize that Arkansas had a lot more to offer than I even imagined. The level of dedication and investment put into developing the trail networks in the state is awe-inspiring. While the hills might not be as big as those in many other riding destinations around the world, the trail designers have masterfully harnessed the available elevation to create a riding paradise. In Bentonville it isn't just about using the natural landscape to link up fun lines, but creating perfectly shaped trails that seamlessly integrate into the urban landscape. Making them accessible to riders from all walks of life. Bentonville was just the beginning – this entire corner of the state is teeming with mountain biking adventure.
"The Masterpiece" is the perfect example of how to tastefully integrate mountain bike trails into urban landscapes.
Among the many captivating locations in Northwest Arkansas, one stood out above the rest – the Lake Leatherwood shuttle zone. Nestled amidst picturesque surroundings, this area boasted the best gnarly riding I found in Arkansas. It was evident that countless hours of labor and passion had been poured into the trail construction, as the natural rock formations were utilized to craft some of the coolest features ever!
DH1, in particular, featured a big step-up jump that demanded absolute commitment and skill, leaving little room for error.
Followed by this rock lily pad.
With its super technical and rough features, Lake Leatherwood was undoubtedly an advanced rider's paradise. The place keeps you on your toes all day long.
Later in the week, I discovered two more zones that left me very stoked – Mount Nebo State Park and Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Each location has its own unique charm, adding to the diverse tapestry of riding experiences in the state.
Mount Nebo State Park, situated in the Ouachita Mountains, provided a pristine natural setting and a solid amount of elevation. It's steep and exposed off the top so the sunsets and sunrises are both epic! The trails meandered through lush forests and scenic overlooks.
Meanwhile, Pinnacle Mountain State Park offered a different flavor of excitement. It's just outside of Little Rock and this zone was a pretty unique experience. The spot had some big trees, a vibrant forest floor, and colourful dirt. It’s a nice balance of well-thought out flow trails and natural, raw riding. There wasn't one place in the state that didn't surprise me! The diversity poured into Arkansas' trail systems is seriously impressive.
Early summer conditions brought on vibrant colours and pleasant weather, but the temperatures are favourable for riding all year. The diverse terrains, welcoming community, and unparalleled trail development makes Arkansas an ultimate year-round mountain biking destination, and an amazing escape for those of us with cool winters. Whether you're a novice rider looking to improve your skills, an intermediate seeking a well-rounded experience, or an advanced rider in search of challenging lines, this place has something for everyone.
The state's trails, infused with the passion and creativity of dedicated builders and riders, has become an ultimate playground for mountain bikers.
to your bucket list, it will be a rad experience etched in your memory forever!
Cinematography & Post Production: Scott Bell
Camera Assistant: Max Mcculloch
Drone Operators: Josh Beckemeyer
& James Bobo
Photography: Jarrett Lindal