Mountain Biking at Mt. Nebo State Park: Epic Views & Long Downhills

Silhouette of mountain bike leaning against railing under gazebo with expansive landscape views in background in Arkansas

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Mt. Nebo State Park is one of the four Monument Trail networks in Arkansas, which were created to bring world-class riding to local parks around the state.

Mt. Nebo was the third Monument Trail network I rode (the first two were Devil’s Den and Hobbs) and it quickly became one of my favorites. I only had two full days to ride, but I wish I could have stayed a week!

So what makes the mountain biking at Mt. Nebo so special? The views for one thing. The campground and parking areas are situated at the top of the mountain with 360-degree panoramas all around. It’s stunning, especially at sunrise and sunset.

The trails are also great with a perfect mix of tech, flow, and features. Be ready to earn your downhills, though. Climbing is required at Mt. Nebo!

In this post, I share everything you need to know to make the most of your mountain bike adventure at Mt. Nebo State Park in Arkansas.

Getting there & where to park

Mt. Nebo State Park is located just over an hour northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, or 2 hours southeast of the “Mountain Bike Capital of the World – Bentonville“.

The park is up on a mountain – Mt. Nebo – and the road up there is very windy and steep. I do not recommend taking a trailer or a vehicle longer than 24 feet up to the top. If you still want to ride, but can’t drive up, there are parking areas at the base.

For parking, you have two options really:

  1. You can park at the top and end your ride on a climb but enjoy epic views post-ride
  2. Park at the bottom and end your ride with a downhill

I camped at the campground at the top, so I rode from my campsite, finishing my rides with hefty, but doable, climbs.

The route recommendations I’ve included below all start from the campground, but you can easily start the routes from wherever you decide to park.

Here are the four main parking areas at Mt. Nebo:

watch BKXC explore Mt. Nebo

Important Things to Know

Mountain biking at Mt. Nebo State Park is awesome, but there are a few things to know before hitting the trails:

  • The road is crazy steep and windy: The road up to the top of Mt. Nebo is very steep and windy. The switchbacks are real! Do not attempt to drive a camp trailer up. The maximum vehicle length is 24 feet.
  • Bring your climbing legs!: As you drive up to the top of Mt. Nebo you’ll probably be thinking “oh sh$t”. Yep, if you go down, you gotta go back up 🙂
  • E-bikes are allowed: If lots of climbing isn’t your thing or you only have a day at Mt. Nebo, e-bikes are allowed.
  • Watch out for hikers: Hikers share many of the mountain bike trails. Stay in control, go slow around corners, and say hi when you pass!
  • Skip Lizard Trail: Lizard trail is challenging, unique, and impressive in places but it’s also exhausting and most riders will hike-a-bike a good portion of it. Only ride it if you’ve covered all the other trails and don’t mind a bit (or a lot) of frustration.
Rock armored trail under natural cliff overhang on trail at Mt. Nebo state park in Arkansas
Lizard Trail is challenging and technical and not the best use of your time and energy at Mt. Nebo unless you’ve already ridden everything else

The Climbing

Before I get into the trails and route recommendations, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the climbing.

There is a lot of climbing involved at Mt. Nebo. The two rides I did both had over 2,500 ft of elevation gain.

I don’t want to intimidate you or discourage you from riding at Mt. Nebo because it is awesome, but be prepared to pedal.

The good news, though, is that the climb trails are really well built with lots of switchbacks and (mostly) mellow grades. I found the climbing there to actually be quite enjoyable.

Two easier options for getting to the top are shuttling and e-bikes. Currently, there is no commercial shuttle company, so you’ll need to set a shuttle up yourself (and remember, the road up is very steep and windy).

Class 1 e-bikes are also allowed at Mt. Nebo, although there are no local shops that rent them.

Switchbacked singletrack mountain bike trail at Mt. Nebo State Park in Arkansas
There is a lot of climbing at Mt. Nebo, but for the most part, the trails are really well built for climbing

Trail guide & route recommendations

Mt. Nebo has about 13 miles of trail and it is some of my favorite riding (at least that I’ve done) in Arkansas. There’s a good mix of everything from fast flow to features (mostly natural) to some tech if you seek it out.

Hopefully, you’ll have time to do all of the singletrack (maybe minus Lizard Trail), but here are the three must-ride trails at Mt. Nebo:

  • Chickalah Downhill
  • Chickalah Valley Loop Trail (as a climb and a downhill)
  • Miller’s Goat

The two route recommendations I give below are based on a two-day stay at Mt. Nebo. If you have an e-bike you could do all the trails in a day, but it’s such a cool spot I recommend staying at least 2 days.

If you do only have a day, I recommend doing the day 1 route.

Mt. Nebo Trail map

Route recommendation

1. Mt. Nebo State Park Day 1

This route is a great first day for mountain bikers at Mt. Nebo State Park. Warm up on Miller’s Goat before getting your flow on down Chickalah Downhill. The climb up Chickalah Valley Loop Trail isn’t terrible, but take your time and enjoy the pedal 🙂

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? Yes
  • Mileage: 13.2 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,750 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Three C’s Trail toward Sunrise Point > Sunrise Loop > Miller’s Goat (clockwise) > Chickalah Downhill > Chickalah Valley Loop Trail > Sunset Point Connector > Three C’s Trail

Route notes: Sunrise Loop has some cool alternative features for more advanced riders. Chickalah Downhill is super fast and flowy with opportunities to get air.

Do more: Feeling a challenge? Take Lizard Trail instead of Three C’s back to Sunrise Point.

Do less: You can opt to just do the Chickalah Downhill/Chickalah Valley Loop Trail, but I highly recommend doing Miller’s Goat at some point.

Mountain bike propped up against rock on stone-laid trail next to small pool of water at Mt. Nebo State Park in Arkansas
Chickalah Downhill ends at a stunning little grotto

Route recommendation

2. Mt. Nebo State Park Day 2

For day 2, you’ll descend Chickalah Valley Loop Trail (which you climbed yesterday) and then take on Hayes Creek Run. The climb up Ox Pull is definitely the hardest climb, so take it slow and walk if you need to.

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? Yes
  • Mileage: 14.4 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 2,530 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Three C’s Trail toward Sunset Point > Chickalah Valley Loop Trail > Chickalah Connector > Chickalah Valley Loop Trail > Miller’s Goat > Haye’s Creek Run > Ox Pull > Miller’s Goat > Sunrise Loop > Sunrise East Connector > Three C’s Trail

Make it easier: This route has quite a bit of climbing. If you’re not sure you’re up for 2,500 ft, do Hayes Creek Run first and then decide if you want to do the Chickalah Valley Loop Trail descent.

Curvy bridge on singletrack trail at Mt. Nebo in Arkansas with bike leaning against metal railing

Camping at Mt. Nebo

As I’ve mentioned several times in this post, I highly recommend spending at least two days at Mt. Nebo.

There are several camping options as well as cabin rentals:

Mt. Nebo Campground

The Mt. Nebo Campground is situated at the top of the mountain with great views out over the surrounding area.

There are 24 campsites available with water, electric, picnic tables, and access to showers and bathrooms. There’s also a swimming pool that is open in the summer. There is no dump station. If the campground is booked, there is a small overflow lot.

Tip: If you can, snag sites 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17. These have the best views!

Van parked at Mt. Nebo State Park campground

Cabin rentals

I didn’t know this before I visited, but Mt. Nebo has 15 really cool and unique cabins that you can rent out. Most of the cabins are perched along the rim with amazing views from their porches.

Each cabin is equipped with a kitchen, heat, air conditioning, and linens and some are even dog friendly. They can sleep 2-8 people depending on the cabin.

I would love to come back and spend a week or more at one of these cabins!

Rim Trail in Mt. Nebo State Park with trail signs warning hikers only and cabin facing beautiful view
Most cabins in Mt. Nebo State Park like this one have amazing views and trailside access

Bike-in campsites

If you want more privacy, there are also 10 bike or hike-in only campsites at Mt. Nebo. They’re located around the perimeter of the mountain top and some are even trail-side.

Other things to do at Mt. Nebo State Park

Mt. Nebo State Park has a lot of other great things to offer aside from mountain biking. Here are some things to do off the bike:

  • Hike the Rim Trail: This 3-mile trail skirts the perimeter of the mountain top and is only open to hikers.
  • Watch the sunset/sunrise: Catching a sunset and/or sunrise on top of Mt. Nebo is a must.
  • Learn about the history: Stop at the Visitor’s Center to learn about the history of Mt. Nebo including the Summit Park Hotel that opened in 1889 and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s.
Sunset at Sunset Point in Mt. Nebo State Park
Watching a sunset or sunrise on top of Mt. Nebo is a must!

Final thoughts

Mountain biking at Mt. Nebo State Park was definitely a highlight of my most recent visit to Arkansas. The views from the top are spectacular and the trails – despite the climbing – are immensely fun.

Plan to spend at least two days here (or more!) to really make the most of your visit.

Have fun!

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