Arkansas isn’t a place you might automatically think of when it comes to amazing singletrack (or maybe the cat really is out of the bag about this place…), but let me tell you, Bentonville mountain biking is becoming world-renown for its purpose-built trails and fun, artsy trail features.
The town of Bentonville recently declared itself the Mountain Biking Capital Of The World and if they continue to do what they’re doing (rumor has it that there are plans in place to build 1,200 miles of singletrack between Bentonville and Little Rock over the next ten years) they will unquestionably live up to that name.
I’ve visited Bentonville several times now and I can honestly say it lives up to the hype. There are trails everywhere (and they’re GOOD!), but what makes this place so special is the community that is being created around bikes. It’s pretty special.
If you’re planning a mountain biking trip to Northwest Arkansas, I’ve compiled everything you need to know in this blog post including the best trails to ride, route recommendations, where to eat, and more.
Why mountain bike in Bentonville?
Over the past few years, the Walton Foundation (under the leadership of the grandsons of the Walmart empire) has poured millions of dollars into Bentonville to build world-class mountain bike trails in and around town as well as help transform the town of Bentonville into a classy destination with amazing restaurants, museums, public urban spaces, and yes, mountain bike trails right in town. It’s amazing.
The Bentonville mountain biking scene covers dozens – if not hundreds – of miles of cross-country singletrack, professionally built jump lines with progressive features, trails that weave in and out of neighborhoods (many lined with funky, random art), a glow-in-the-dark trails (what!?) and a dialed bike park filled with hours of fun.
Thanks to all the work that has gone into transforming this town, it also boasts really cool bike community vibes perfect for families and outdoor lovers.
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Watch the GMBN team shred Bentonville
Important Things to Know
Bentonville Mountain Biking Guide
Like most mountain bike destinations, the mountain biking in Bentonville is spread out over a handful of networks. Much of the riding is cross-countryesque with options to hit features like drops and kickers off to the side.
There are 6 main mountain bike trail networks to explore. That being said, there is a ton more riding in Northwest Arkansas, but this post is just focused on Bentonville.
- Little Sugar
- The Back 40/Blowing Springs
- Slaughter Pen Trails
- Coler Preserve
- HandCut Hollow
- The Railyard & Lake Atlanta
Also, full transparency, I have not ridden every single trail or trail network in Bentonville (I tried!). I’ve been there twice and rode a ton each time, but there’s so much riding in Bentonville and I didn’t cover every trail.
I’ll continue to update this post as I explore Bentonville mountain biking further.
And as I mentioned above, most of the trails in Bentonville are multi-use. Be kind, be courteous, and have fun!
Little Sugar (and The Back 40) are the rolling cross-country areas of Bentonville. They are actually up in Bella Vista, which is a small community a few minutes north of Bentonville.
There is one 25+ mile loop around Little Sugar: Tunnel Vision. It rolls in and out of neighborhoods on mellow terrain with lots of well-built climbs and long, fast descents. If you’re not up for a 25-mile day, there are plenty of options to do a shorter ride at Little Sugar (see route recommendation below).
Little Sugar is also home to the Huntley Gravity Zone. This area was under construction when I visited, but it’s now open and ready to rip! You’ll find short downhill jump lines and flow trails for all levels. There is a dedicated climb trail so you can easily lap the descents. (Note: the Huntley Gravity Zone isn’t on the big Little Sugar Loop. You’ll need to take the trail Uphill Both Ways to access it).
Little sugar Route recommendation
>> Little Sugar Loop
This 12-mile loop gives you a taste of the Tunnel Vision Loop without needing to do the full 25-mile trek. It passes in and out of beautiful NWA forest and through neighborhoods with flowy singletrack and minimal tech.
Route directions: Little Sugar Parking > Tunnel Vision > Bamboozeled > Lago Vista East > Tunnel Vision
Route notes: You can ride the loop in either direction. I prefer counterclockwise.
Do more: Take a side trip to Huntley Gravity Zone for some fun freeride features!
The Back 40/Blowing Springs
The Back 40/Blowing Springs area is similar to Little Sugar in terms of terrain and it also has its own 20+ mile loop, The Back 40 Loop. Like Tunnel Vision in Little Sugar, there is a myriad of ways to do shorter rides in the Back 40 that are arguably more fun since you can add more variety and tech.
The Ledges is the most challenging trail here with punchy rock lunges, tricky turns, and some exposure.
Back 40 Route recommendation
>> Back 40 Variety Loop
Get a taste of The Back 40 area with this variety loop that hits the technical Ledges trail and some flowy singletrack.
Route directions: Blowing Springs Parking > Blowing Spring Loop > Blowing Springs Greenway > The Ledges > The Back 40 Loop > Mulligan > Rago > The Back 40 Loop > Boom Diggity
Route notes: Ride the loop counterclockwise
Make it easier: The Ledges trail is pretty technical with some high-stakes exposure. You can skip this section by simply turning left onto Mulligan.
Do more: Instead of taking Blowing Springs after The Ledges, take a left onto Pinyon Creek to Summit School to Rago. This will add roughly 4 miles and some climbing.
Slaughter Pen Trails
The Slaughter Pen Trails make up the mountain bike network located right in town. I mean right in town! You can literally catch singletrack trails from downtown Bentonville. It’s amazing.
These trails are a mix of old-school cross-country with minor tech and new-school flow with features like dirt jumps, drops, tabletops, and other super fun things to play around on.
The higher-up trails tend to be more XC and less traveled while the lower-down trails have more features and are more popular.
One of Bentonville’s most popular trails is the iconic All-American Heroes. It’s a beginner-friendly semi-flow trail with tabletops, small gap jumps and other features sprinkled throughout. The last section at the northern end of the trail is great to lap if you’re looking to improve your jumping skills.
The Freeride Park is also a fun place to hang out. There are large dirt jumps to hone your doubles, three wooden drops that get progressively harder, and huge berms to practice your cornering.
Don’t feel intimidated, here. Everyone is learning!
Slaughter pen Route recommendation
>> Bentonville Slaughter Pen Trail Loop
Honestly, it’s a bit challenging to recommend a ‘best’ route for the Slaughter Pen trails because everything is so packed together. It’s the kind of place that you just need to hit the trails and explore.
This 16-mile loop is a good intro, though. I highly recommend you have a GPS computer so you’re not constantly taking your phone out.
Route directions: All American Parking > All American > Boo Boo > Highway to Heaven (options to do some laps here) > Tech Hub Connector > Rim Trail > Black Apply Creek (options to do laps here) > Leopards Loop > Lincoln Loop > Tristan Trail > Bike Path > All American (lap the jump line) > All American > Seed Tick Shuffle > Lombard > Medieval > Lombard > Loam Wolf > (optional third lap) > Free Time > Handcut Hollow Loop > Berkeley’s Holler > Schroen Train > Berkley’s Holler > Schroen Trail (other side) > Free Time > Razorback Ridge > Skid Marks > All American > Razorback Greenway
Route notes: It’s challenging to follow a specific route at Slaughter Pen trails before there’s so much packed into a relatively small area. You may end up just creating your own route based on trails you want to hit twice, recommendations from riders you meet, or how energized/tired you feel.
Slaughter Pen is the kind of place you need to ride a few times to really figure it out.
If you only have time to visit one mountain bike network in Bentonville, make it Coler Preserve. This place is awesome! The trails in the preserve are set up to be lapped and you could spend a full day here doing just that.
Many of the downhill trails start at The Hub, which is an elevated launchpad with ramps dropping down into different trails. There’s everything from beginner-friendly jump lines at Coler Preserve to huge drops and technical features. There are also several cross-country loops if you’re not into getting air.
Need a snack? Be sure to hit up Airship Coffee, which is located in the middle of the Coler Preserve trails and can only be accessed by foot or bike. You can also book a site at the Coler Campground if you want to shred sunup to sundown.
HandCut Hollow is actually a newer addition to the Bentonville mountain biking scene. This network hadn’t been built when I last visited, so I don’t know too much about it other than that it’s within easy pedaling distance to the Slaughter Pen Trails and the photos look great!
It’s also home to Zone 4 – the most challenging climb in Bentonville.
Handcut hollow Route recommendation
>> Traverse Loop
I have not ridden this loop, however, it gets really good reviews on TrailForks. It also looks like there are lots of ways you can modify the route if you’re looking for more downhill-oriented fun.
Route directions: All American Parking > Traverse Loop (clockwise)
Route notes: Based on the comments it seems like this loop is more old-school and raw. Don’t expect to find machine-built flow here.
Make it your own: There are a number of downhill trails at the start of the “Hub Of Heavy & Hairy Huckin”. If you don’t want to do the full Traverse Loop you can skip the bottom section and spend your time check out these DH trails.
The Railyard & Lake Atlanta
Ok, so truthfully I didn’t even know about The Railyard until several weeks after I visited Bentonville, but to be fair, it was still under renovation.
The Railyard is a huge skills and jump park in Rogers, Arkansas, about 20 minutes east of Bentonville. There are 8 jump lines ranging from beginner rollers to pro-only sends and all the other features you can imagine: wallrides, pump tracks, ramps, tabletops, drops, and so much more. There’s even a small network of flow and cross-country trails adjacent to the bike park – the Lake Atlanta trail network.
When I visited Bentonville, I was thinking that it was missing something like the Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, but nope. I just didn’t know that the Railyard existed.
Learn more about the Railyard Bike Park on their Facebook Page.
Best Time to Ride Bentonville
Bentonville can technically be ridden all year long, but the summer months get hot. Real hot. And winters can be cold, rainy, and snowy. It’s best to visit during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October when the temps are perfect and the rain and humidity are minimal.
Bentonville also hosts several mountain bike events if you want your trip to coincide with a shindig. Bentonville Bike Fest happens in June and OuterBike comes to town in October.
Bentonville has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years for its mountain bike trail building and development. I’ve been there several times now and I have to say it’s pretty darn impressive.
What they are doing to build a community and culture around the sport is amazing. I also really appreciate that they’re building a ton of variety of trails from mellow cross-country loops to DH tracks with huge features.
Go check it out for yourself!
Looking for more riding or inspiration around Arkansas? Check out these related blog posts:
What questions do you still have about Bentonville mountain biking? If you’ve already ridden there, does it live up to the hype? Leave a comment below!