Route Notes: You can find full details on the Arkansas High Country Route here from the excellent Adventure Cycling Association. The full shebang is 1171.8 miles, but can be broken up into three smaller loops (Northwest, Central, South), with options for singletrack on the south loop. This short series covers my trip out on the Northwest loop, which took two days and some change.
Additional important notes:
- 50% gravel, 50% pavement
- Climbs and descents with grades frequently in the 17-21% range
- ~19,000 feet total climbing in 250 miles
- "A minimum of 37mm tires with some tread is highly recommended." - Thoughts on this later.
Day 1: Bentonville to the edge of the Wildlife Management Area, plus some bonus riding - 76 milesI rolled into Bentonville around noon on a Monday, unloaded my bike, and popped into Phat Tire to say hi to the cool people and confirm that I really could leave my car in one of the city public lots. Say what you will about Walmart, but Bentonville looks to have become a pristine little town with tons of restaurants, bars, outdoorsy things, and people on bikes. I had zero issues with cars rolling out of town on my loaded down Salsa Cutthroat, passing Crystal Bridges art museum en route to the gravel. The loop starts with lots of gently rolling hills, on and off the pavement, past farmhouses in the countryside until hitting a Dollar General and gas station just 28 miles in. I skipped this stop as I was still loaded up with water and snacks, but it would make a great first resupply if needed.
|On top of the ascent to Pea Ridge National Military Park in Benton County.|
|Beaver Lake. Tempting to jump in.|
|Suspension bridge crossing after Beaver Lake.|
|Riding through part of the Wildlife Management Area|
|Edge of a stream in the Wilderness Management Area|
|I carried my stuff to the other side.|
|Cave, cool air, bivy, bike.|
|Running clothes and stream-wading.|
|Other cave. Pretty sure armadillos live here.|