First-Time Visitor’s guide to Coler Mountain Bike Preserve

Metal vertical sign with the word "Coler" cut out at the entrance of Coler Mountain Bike Preserve in Bentonville, Arkansas

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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.
Modern wood paneled restrooms and outdoor space at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve in Bentonville Arkansas
The restrooms at South Gateway parks have a very northwest Arkansas architectural design

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!

The Hub at Coler Preserve: an elevated platform with ramps leading into three different mountain bike trails
The Hub is the starting point for the north end trails at Coler

Coler Mountain Bike Preserve Map

Coler Trails

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.

Wooden bridge with tall sides on mountain bike trail in Arkansas
Unique bridge on Esther’s Trail

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.

Mountain bikers at top of dual slalom trails at Coler Preserve in Bentonville Arkansas
Drop in to Thunder Dome dual slalom track

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).

Ramp drop in to mountain bike jump line at Coler Preserve in Bentonville Arkansas
Start of Cease and Desist from The Hub

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.

View from top of 12+ foot Drop The Hammer feature at Coler Preserve in Bentonville Arkansas
Drop the Hammer! (I did not…)

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.

Elevated wooden bridge on Here's Johnny mountain bike trail at Coler Preserve in Bentonville, Arkansas
Here’s Johnny is a mix of these elevated bridges, tough rock gardens, and a tiny bit of flow

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:

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.

Walk in campsite at Coler Campground with elevated wooden tent platform
The tent sites at Coler Campground are all walk-in with elevated wooden platforms

Airship Coffee

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.

Open-air rectangle concrete building housing Airship Coffee in Coler Preserve
Grabbing a drink or some food at Airship Coffee is a must!

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
Two mountain bikers riding up paved path in the woods at Coler Preserve in Bentonville Arkansas
The dedicated climb trails at Coler are paved, which makes laps even easier

Additional resources

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  1. 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?

    1. 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!

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