First-Time Visitor’s guide to Coler Mountain Bike Preserve
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Coler Mountain Bike Preserve is one of the best – and most popular – mountain bike networks in Bentonville, Arkansas. Within a relatively small acreage of land, the trail builders have fit in a ton of great riding for every level of rider. Beginners and families will find mellow cross-country singletrack while more advanced riders can hit big tabletops and huge jumps. And there’s plenty in between.
So if you’re heading to Bentonville, read on the learn everything you need to know about mountain biking at Coler Preserve.
Watch BKXC shred the trails at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve
Where to park
There are three parking areas at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve. It honestly doesn’t really matter where you park because there’s is a paved path that runs the length of Coler, providing easy access back and forth from North Gateway and South Gateway. If you park at Coler Grove, you will need to do a short climb back to your car.
- North Gateway: This parking area is located on the north end of Coler Preserve and provides the quickest and easiest access to the more advanced trails starting from The Hub. There are no bathrooms or water fountains here. There is a bike tool/repair station.
- South Gateway: Located at the south end of Coler, this parking area is quite a bit larger and has bathrooms, a water fountain, and a bike tool station.
- Coler Grove: This parking area is above South Gateway and provides instant access to Thunder Dome, a dual slalom track, and Family Flow, a great trail for kids or new riders. You will finish your ride on a short climb if you park here.
The Coler Hub
Before I talk about the trails at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve, I wanted to mention The Hub, since it’s one of the most distinguishing features at Coler. The Hub is a huge alien-looking structure at the top of north Coler that leads into the northside downhill trails.
There are three ‘exit ramps’ on The Hub that lead into Fire Line, Cease and Desist, and Rock Solid/Rock Soft.
If you take Oscar’s Loop to get to the hub, it’s a paved path, which makes lapping the northside a lot easier!
Coler Mountain Bike Preserve Map
There are about a dozen mountain bike trails at Coler ranging from mellow cross-country pedals to expert-only freeride descents. I’ve listed them from easiest to hardest and starred the ones that I really liked.
1. Good Vibrations
Cross Country | Easy | 0.9 | South or North Gateway
This is a great beginner-friendly cross-country trail with a few berms and turns. You can use it as a connector trail between parking areas if you don’t want to take the paved path.
2. *Esther’s Loop
Cross Country | Easy | 4 Miles | South Gateway
Esther’s Loop is a mellow, mostly flowing cross-country loop on the southwest side of Coler Mountain Bike Preserve. It was designed specifically as a race course for NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association). Esther’s can be ridden in both directions, although the more popular direction is clockwise.
3. Family Flow
Downhill Flow | Easy | 0.4 Miles | South Gateway
This is a great trail to start on, especially if you’re new to faster downhill trails with features like berms and tabletops. You can access Family Flow by pedaling up the dedicated climb trail.
4. *Thunder Dome
Dual Slalom | More Difficult | 0.3 Miles | South Gateway or Coler Grove
Thunder Dome is a blast, especially if you have a competitive spirit. It’s a dual slalom track with two identical trails slaloming next to each other down the ‘mountain’ (it’s really a hill). There are tight berms, tabletops, and drops/rollers, but nothing mandatory.
5. *Fire line
Downhill Flow/Jump Trail | More Difficult | 0.7 Miles | North Gateway
Fire Line is a really great trail if you’re just learning how to do jumps and drops. It’s super flowy with lots of big berms and small-to-medium-sized tabletops and drops. Fire Line starts at the Hub on the northside of Coler Mountain Bike Preserve.
6. Oscar’s Loop
Technical Cross Country | Difficult | 2.5 Miles | South or North Gateway
From the North Gateway parking area, Oscar’s Loop is a paved climbing trail that provides the easiest access up to The Hub. From The Hub, Oscar’s Loop becomes quite a bit more rugged and technical. There are lots of embedded rocks and several technical rock gardens, but also stretches of flowy singletrack. It’s not an actual loop, though. It can be ridden in either direction. I rode it North to South, but it would ride well the other way, too.
7. *Rock Soft
Old-School Technical | Difficult | 0.5 Miles | North Gateway
Rock Soft along with Rock Solid (see below) are the old-school technical downhill tracks at Coler Preserve. Rock Soft is narrow with lots of natural features including rock gardens, short rock slabs rollers, and optional kickers made out of… you guessed it, rocks.
8. Cease and Desist
Downhill Jump Line | Very Difficult | 0.4 Miles | North Gateway
If Fire Line felt easy for you, take it up a few notches on Cease and Desist. This trail has much bigger jumps and drops and leads into one of the most advanced trails at Coler: Drop the Hammer (you can bail before DTH if you want).
9. Rock Solid
Old-School Technical | Very Difficult | 0.4 Miles | North Gateway
Rock Solid is very similar to rock soft, but with bigger rock kickers and steeper rock gardens.
10. Copperhead Road
Old-School Technical | Very Difficult | 0.9 Miles | North Gateway
Copperhead Road isn’t actually a road, but a mostly downhill technical old-school track that you can access from the Hub. There are lots of rocky features as it follows a rock band. This trail requires good bike handling skills. If this is your kind of riding, connect into Here’s Johnny for the most challenging route at Coler Preserve.
11. Drop the Hammer
Downhill Jump Line | Most Difficult | 0.2 Miles | North Gateway
Drop The Hammer has the biggest feature at Coler, a 12+ foot drop off a metal ramp. The rest of the trail features more step-ups and step-downs. This trail is only for very experienced riders with freeride skills.
12. Here’s Johnny
Old-School Technical | Very Difficult | 1.5 Miles | North or South Gateway
Here’s Johnny is full of very old-school tech. It’s challenging, exhausting, and very annoying at times. I attempted to ride it, but bailed because I was too tired to deal with the stop-and-go rock sections. There are a few really fun twisty elevated bridges that are wide enough to not cause panic.
What gear to bring
Below are a few of my favorite pieces of mountain bike gear. Specific to Coler Preserve, you may want to consider bringing:
- A full-face helmet if you plan on doing the more advanced trails
- Knee pads and elbow pads
Shop my favorite mountain bike gear
Coler Preserve Camping
There is camping at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve at a dedicated campground located literally trailside. The Coler Campground features:
- 17 hike-in elevated platform sites for tents (wagons available)
- 5 van sites (no hook-ups)
- Bathrooms with flush toilets
- Hot showers
- Bike wash & repair station
- Water bottle refill station
- Community fire pit
The campground is also within walking distance to Airship Coffee (see below) as well as some nice places to take a dip in the river.
For prices and reservations, head over to the Coler Campground webpage.
Perhaps the coolest and most unique landmark in Coler Mountain Bike Preserve is the bike/walk-in-only Airship Coffee. This modern, open-air, architectural piece of art is situated halfway between North Gateway and South Gateway parking lots along the paved path that runs the length of Coler.
Airship Coffee serves delicious Farm Direct coffee beverages as well as tacos, nachos, smoothies, baked goods, and other snacks. And beer/wine, too! It’s so cool.
Good to know’s
Before heading out to Coler Preserve, here are a few good-to-know’s:
- e-bikes are allowed (and thriving)
- Ride within your skill level – there are some big features at Coler
- Bring your credit card (or phone with Apple Pay) so you can get a snack and drink at Airship Coffee post-ride
- There is a place to take a dip next to Airship Coffee (which has restrooms for changing)
- Hikers and trail runners use these trails as well. Stay in control and be courteous
- Coler Mountain Bike Preserve Facebook Page
- Oz Trails
- Peel Compton Foundation
- A Complete Guide to Mountain Biking in Bentonville, Arkansas
I love hearing from you and appreciate your comments! However, if you leave a rude, unconstructive, or spammy comment, it will be deleted. It’s cool to be kind. Have an awesome day!
Great information. Is the Coler Bike Preserve open year round; do they close for part of the season, and what happens when the weather turns bad?
Yes, Coler Preserve is open year-round weather dependent. They’ll close it due to muddy/snowy trails but there isn’t a ‘closed season’.
Great write up! How would you compare Coler to the Mt Kessler trails?
Coler is definitely more developed and popular than Mt. Kessler. It has a lot more jumps, features, and machine-built trails. They’re both fun depending on what you’re looking for!