Arkansas. It’s a border state. New trails to investigate. ROAD TRIP! It didn’t take too much convincing to head south to bring in the new year/new decade on foreign soil. Jackie downloaded all the maps and directions to two parks: Syllamo Mountain Bike Trails in the Ozark – St. Francis National Forest http://www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/publications/rogs/syllamo_rog_07_06.pdf in Mountain View, AR and Pigeon Creek Trails http://www.norfork.com/cycling/ on Lake Norfolk in Mountain Home, AR.
New Years Eve morning two cars with four women and lots of stuff made the five hour drive to Jackie and Tim’s beautiful lake house on Bull Shoals.
Once unloaded and geared up for the cold, winter temperatures, we completed a ten mile warm up ride around the lake and surrounding picturesque area. Ahhhhh! To be on the knobbies! That evening over dinner, we scoured the Syllamo trails map and planned our New Years ride.
Syllamo has five trails from beginner to advanced. We decided we would ride the intermediate Bald Scrappy Loop which was located adjacent to the advanced White River Bluff Loop so we could hike the Bluff Loop after our ride to stretch out our legs and enjoy the scenic views. After New Years morning greetings and a hearty country breakfast, we set off on the beautiful hour and a half drive to Syllamo. It was cold! Thank goodness for Carrie’s Team Rev cold-weather riding gear class!
Bald Scrappy had all the terrain a mountain biker could want with beautiful scenery to boot. Complete with roots, rocks, shale pathways, creek crossings, pine forests, rock gardens, and plenty of cardio inclines and fast down hills. Though the person who categorized it as “intermediate” must have been on crack. It was pretty challenging. Even the racer boys we met at the parking lot afterwards agreed that trail was technical. White River Bluff trail was correctly described as advanced. I was glad I had my hiking boots on and wasn’t pushing my bike up those rocky inclines! Once up on the bluff, there were amazing views of the beautiful White River, home to exceptional trout fishing. Note to self: bring fly rod and vest next trip…
The next morning we drove about thirty minutes to the Pigeon Creek trails of which they have two sets – the “100’s” and the “200’s”. We set off to explore the four trails of the 200’s first. Within fifty feet there was a big tree down across the trail. We were quickly disappointed at the lack of maintenance to these trails as trees and branches were scattered and broken across the route and not attended to. We got tired of picking our bikes up over tree trunks and turned back to attempt the 100 series of trails. It was a good thing we did. They were fun, challenging and the scenery beautiful!!!! No hike-a-bike on this trail. The trails wrap around Lake Norfolk and were fairly well marked. We were glad we had a map of the trail system because one could easily get disoriented from the lack of markings!
Sunday morning we awoke to five inches of snow. It was picturesque! A breathtaking way to complete a successful first weekend of the new year!
I couldn’t imagine starting 2010 any other way – exploring new bike trails, great friends, new adventures… a foreshadowing of what this glorious year has in store. Bring it.