Tag Archives: Razorback Greenway Trail

Trail Review: Bentonville Mountain Biking

Jeff is getting more timely in his trail review posts!

IMG_4966Bentonville as a mountain bike destination has been on my bucket list for a while, therefore, it seemed fitting to squeeze it into our trip back to Florida. Ten years ago there was essentially no mountain biking in Bentonville, but the Walton Family Foundation (founders of the WalMart) donated some land and wrote a check for about $13 Million to fund trail building in the area. Apparently, a couple of the Walton grand kids are avid mountain bikers who thought this would be a great place to host a trail. Cities and Counties who wanted to be part of the system matched the funds put up by the Walton family. Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, Bentonville and some adjoining cities constructed over 100 miles of trails, most of which are connected by the 36-mile Razerback Regional Greenway System. As such, you can add some serious variety to the riding experience by linking the various bike trails with the greenway.

On several days, MB and I parked near the Greenway, and she would walk along the paved sections while I romped on the hand-crafted mountain bike trails. There are three main trail systems along the greenway: the Slaughterpen Trail System (land donated by the Walton family), the Coler Trail System, and the Oz Trail System (actually in Bella Vista). These trails were built by five different trail building companies, with support from the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). The Oz system alone has over 40 miles of buff single track built through Bella Vista, which borders Bentonville to the north. I had the pleasure of riding both the Slaughterpen and Oz trail systems. Both trails weaved through a hilly forest, at times picking their way up, down, and around limestone cliff faces. Trail artisans shaped large stone pieces into berms, jumps, and other features. These trails are made to last, with limited opportunity for erosion from mountain bike tires or weather elements.

My last trail day was spent on the Back 40 Loop, which provided a seemingly never-ending single track excursion through the forested hills and valleys of northern Bentonville and Bella Vista. Although the trail provided an excellent wilderness trail experience, you were never far from civilization occasionally riding behind back yards and across paved roads. One section provided a mountain bike first for me where the trail system cut right through and around an 18-hole golf course. Not quite adventure golf, but close. The trail was well marked and also provided bicycle repair stations and water fountains along the 24-mile, 2,200 foot elevation gain loop.

The Bentonville trail system provides a unique experience for both the mountain bike and road rider. Since the mountain bike trails started downtown, one can feast at many of the trendy downtown restaurants and coffee shops after emerging from the trails. This place will definitely be on our list again!

Bentonville Wrap-Up

030We are at the end of our two week stay here near Bentonville Arkansas. We’ve seen some glorious Fall color and some beautiful cool and clear days. But we’ve also had quite a few gray, cold and rainy days – which reminds us just why we abandoned the Midwest in our youth!

002The gray and rainy days weren’t all bad though. It gave us time to catch up on inside tasks. Jeff had some business affairs to manage for his Dad’s Trust. I painted a new batch of inspirational rocks and worked on a knitting project. I cooked, stocking the freezer with chili and baked ziti. We saw (and loved) the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  I visited a local church on Sunday morning. There’s always something to do!

001.JPGOn the beautiful days, we took full advantage of the fantastic trail system that has been constructed in this area. We explored a couple of different sections of the paved Razorback Greenway trail by bicycle (one day 15 miles, another day 20 miles). The trails interconnect parks with amenities such as bathrooms, bicycle repair tools, and water fountains. The trail is clearly marked, always segregated from traffic, and wide enough for pedestrians as well as bicycles. There are even interesting sculptures interspersed along the way. The Walton Foundation and other supporting towns/organizations have done a stellar job putting this together – I wish other towns would take notes!!  It is our favorite feature of this area.

I also love that the mountain bike trails are interconnected with the paved multi-use trails. So when Jeff went out mountain biking, I went too, and we each would do our own thing. I had started ramping up my walking mileage on the nice trail around our Santa Fe campground, but really increased the mileage here. When Jeff went off mountain biking, I walked the rolling paved trail: 9 miles one day, 6 miles another day, and then finally a 12 miler. It’s been quite a while since I went that distance and it’s nice to know I’ve still got it. I haven’t given up the idea of doing another half marathon some day, who knows? I’d have to seriously work on my speed though.

We also had the opportunity to stop in at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Founded by Sam Walton’s daughter Alice (and funded by the Walton Foundation), this free museum’s collection spans 5 centuries of American art from Colonial days to the present. Organized by era, it is a stroll through artists perception as shaped by their times. The display is as much outdoors as in, with 3.5 miles of sculpture-strewn trails. We had already explored those on our bicycles.

One beautiful sculpture sits just outside the entrance. Although it appears to be a stainless steel tree, it’s actually a depiction of a dendrite (neural cell). Cool! Another favorite exhibit is the pile of gold-wrapped candy mints. Yes, you can eat one and yes, I did! Or the realistic “guy on a bench”. It made me look twice! (Eerily lifelike.) Altogether, a beautiful museum in a beautiful setting, and definitely worth a visit.

Now we’re off to Memphis for some needed repairs (again) and Graceland!

Biking in Bentonville

The area in and around Bentonville Arkansas is surprisingly bicycle-friendly. The backbone is the 38 mile Razorback Regional Greenway trail, which extends from Fayetteville northward through Bentonville. Substantially funded by the Walton Foundation, this paved multi-use trail connects parks, green spaces, and a number of other trails. We picked a beautiful Indian summer day, and saddled up!

024We parked in downtown Bentonville and headed north, exploring the northernmost 8 miles of the trail. Along the way, we passed through parts of downtown and by homes creatively decorated for Halloween. We also meandered through the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art which displays a number of interesting sculptures.

 

025As a chemist, the sculpture I was most taken with is the Buckyball. What is a buckyball, you say? Short for Buckminsterfullerene, it is a spherical nanoparticle made of 60 carbon molecules. Postulated in the late 1960’s, the molecule was first created in 1984 by scientists who used a laser a laser to vaporize carbon in a supersonic helium beam. Aren’t you glad you asked? The sculpture is an artist’s rendition of a super-giant molecule. Or, it’s a soccer ball skeleton. Whatever floats your boat.

The weather was sunny and perfect as we cycled along through the Arkansas countryside. The trees were decked in their colorful Fall finest. We hit the northern terminus of the trail and looped around, back toward town.

 

Closing in on our parking spot and desiring to quench our thirst, we stopped in at the Tusk & Trotter for a late lunch. The restaurant offers locally brewed beverages and fresh, tasty fare. My BBQ sandwich and hard cider was delicious, and Jeff made short work of his “carnivore” flatbread. And a bit of trivia – the restaurant space was once Sam Walton’s office and general warehouse.

Another beautiful day!