New 1171-mile Arkansas High Country Bicycle Route announced - Rivaling Missouri's Katy/Rock Island/Butterfield systems 1079 miles, but the Butterfield mileage will soon be increased by 260 miles . . . | Adventure Cycling Association

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Sparkling streams, hills and hollows, shady rivers, mountain views, waterfalls, swimming holes, historic sites, bustling cities – the Arkansas High Country Route has it all. An Arkansawyer might tell you, “That route don’t go no where — It just runs around everywhere!” Indeed, this route is designed to connect many of the interesting places in west-central and northwest Arkansas.

The route is comprised of three large adjacent loops: the South Loop, the Central Loop, and the Northwest Loop. The South Loop, on map section 1, begins and ends in Little Rock. The Northwest and Central Loops, on map section 2, begin and end in Bentonville and Russellville, respectively. A cyclist can choose to ride one or more of the loops, or ride the perimeter of all the loops – it’s up to you.

An additional choice on the South Loop features two singletrack options, using the entire Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT), and the southern portion of the Womble Trail. Both are International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) EPIC trails.

Since the routing on the three loops is roughly 50% gravel and 50% pavement, and the climbs/descents can reach gradients between 17 - 21%, choose your bike carefully. Riders who are in a hurry will choose a race geometry gravel bike. Those who choose comfort over speed will elect for full suspension or fat tires to pad the ride. Much of the gravel roads are easily ridden, but there are sections with washboards and cathead boulders. A minimum of 37mm tires with some tread is highly recommended. A wide variety of road conditions exist. National Forest roads can have rough surfaces with loose gravel.

The route passes near multiple designated wilderness areas, including the Flatside, Caney Creek, Upper Kiamichi River, Black Fork Mountain, Poteau Mountain, Dry Creek, Upper Buffalo and Buffalo, and Richland Creek wildernesses. No bikes are permitted in any designated wilderness area.

MoBikeFed comment: Note that a few miles of the route reaches into southwest Missouri near Seligman.

We would be more jealous of this amazing new 1171-mile route here in Missouri, if we had not just recently announced our own seamlessly connected 1079 route system, encompassing the Katy Trail/Rock Island Trail trail system (369 miles of interconnected trails), and the Butterfield Stage Experience (250 miles main route plus 460 miles of connector and loop routes).

Additionally, the Butterfield Stage Experience gravel/trail route will soon connect with this new Arkansas High Country Route, as well as the Razorback Trail, on its way to a low-traffic, low-stress, mostly gravel or trail connection from Jefferson City all the way to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The full Butterfield Stage Experience main route will be about 482 miles in length, meaning that the complete Katy/Rock Island/Butterfield system will be somewhere over 1300 miles.