Went down with Mason last Thursday evening (I guess actually really early Friday morning) for a 3 day riding trip in the Ozarks of Northwestern Arkansas. We left Kansas City at 1 AM Friday to Make the Drive to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and the Lake Leatherwood Trail and Camping area. The drive down was really boring: dark, no air conditioning, listen to a CD switch to another, repeat. There was a pretty decent excursion into Neosho, MO at 3:30 AM to find a Wal-mart so that I could supply up for the trip. Got that done and we were bonking right when we had to take mountain roads back into Eureka Springs. We made it through with the help of Bob and started to arrive at Leatherwood right when the sun was coming up. We got to enjoy a nice drive and sunrise through the ozarks at 5:30 am and made it to Leatherwood, promptly got out tents set up and passed out around 6:00 am.
I woke up at 9:45 the next day and realized my contacts were locked in the car, so I had to wake Mason up. Suprisingly, we both weren't feeling too bad from the lack of sleep so we explored camp a little, got our site paid for the night and went out riding. Our Friday day ride we did 15 miles with an absolute fucking ton of climbing. mind you, if you know anything about me, i ride only single speed off road. I was still geared at my KC gearing of 32-18 on my on one inbred 29er with Reba Team Fork. Mason was on a Specialized XC Comp full suspension that was also set up single speed at 34-20. We did a lot of hike a bike that day. but it was all worth it going down. We did eat it a couple times starting out because the trails in Arkansas are literally like single/double track gravel roads with very little in the say of technical features (rocks/roots). We concluded after our trip that Arkansas' definition of technical means climbing, but more on that later.
So we did 15 miles at Leatherwood riding the Beacham Trail norht out of camp until the Overlook Trail. Took the Overlook trail and this is when the climbing started. As you can assume, the overlook trail goes to an overlook point at the top of a mountain. not good on a stoutly geared single speed. We rode all of this and hit Mulladay Hollow back to camp then realized where we were so headed back out to the Miner's Rock trail. Did that until the downhill challenge course, and we took a crack at that. I needed a rear suspension and Mason needed a bigger suspension haha, it was definitely a blast though. Rode back up Miners Loop to the top of the downhill trail, then back down Miner's again just to say we did it. We needed water so we rode over to the ball fields south on the leatherwood trail. re-watered then took off again up twin knobs, holy crap. talk about straight up and straight down. amazing. Also did all the bench cut loop, back down twin knobs little run to the leatherwood trail back north into camp. insane amount of climbing.
that afternoon we chilled and drove around eureka springs a little bit. cool town along some sweet rock outcroppings and bluffs. highly recommend it. we of course brought our lights so we went on an 8 mile night ride friday as well. South on the beacham trail out of camp to hyde hollow out and back, continued on beacham around the lake, across the dam and took the fuller trail abck south into camp. awesome ride and my light died literally 50 feet from the end of the trail ride. thank god!
we awoke saturday and I talked Mason into hitting another quick loop before we took off to Hobbs State Park and Conservation Area south of beaver lake. This time at Leatherwood we did a 9 mile loop by taking the Fuller Trail north, hooking into the Beacham trail across the dam and around the Lake to Hyde Hollow out the the Lost ridge trails. Again, talk about climbing! They say on the map that its 10 switchbacks and over 300 feet vertical climbing. Well its probably double the number of switch backs and definitely over 300 feet of climbing. Absolutely a bad-ass trail though once we got to the top and could breathe. It traversed all the way arlund the side of a mountain ridge, the way a lot of the trails out there do, but this one was a little more fun, because even though hard as hell, the switch backs made the climb completely rideable on the single speeds. we finished lost ridge trail and did half the bench loop in the other direction this time and ended down the same run of tiwn knobs and leatherwood north back into camp. great trails, great camping area that was only $10/night (showers/bathrooms/electrical/water), great community, beautiful area. highly highly recommend.
we had already packed up camp before the ride so we showered up and started the trip to hobbs. got there about an hour later and it was getting pretty damn hot (96+) at 1 pm. We loaded water up big time and set out on the 9 mile Little Clifty Creek Loop, Did that out to the War Eagle 6 mile loop and did all of that (2 brutal but rideable climbs) then finished the Clifty Creek Loop. We had finished that 15 miles and were completely out of water...both of us had drained our 100 OZ camelbacks and 2 water bottles apiece. We decided to call it a day because of the heat, it was hovering around 98 still at 3:30, and headed into Rogers to find food and camping options. Found a Braums, had the best ice cream in the world and found the Monte Ne at Beaver Lake resort south of town to camp at. This was also a nice, very quiet place, that actually has its own private cove on beaver lake. only $16 a night too for again, showers/bathrooms/electrical/water plus a laundry facility if needed and plenty of daedfall around for a fire.
got up sunday and headed to slaughter pen hollow in bentonville. we had heard great things about slaughter pen and were especially looking forward to the free ride park and dirt jump area. The one word to sum up slaugher pen overall: lame! more to come but the skills area at clinton lake puts the one in slaughter pen to shame. The only cool thing was the mountain cross course that had like 3 table tops, a huge berm, 2 more table tops, smaller berm, 2 more table tops, smaller yet berm, 1 table top. Everything was completely overgrown and/or rutted. Mason ended up biting ass/endo-ing and ripping his brake cable out of his juicy 3 around 10 am so we had to go to the bike shop. of course they didn't oven until noon so we went on a 50 mile mountain cruise on some backroads. got back to the shop at 12:01 pm and they had the parts to fix it, go get lunch and come back in an hour we were told. so we did. and they got it done and now it was 1:30 pm and 95+ again, but out again to slaughter pen we went.
We decided that the freeride park wasn't worth our time anymore so we'd go check out the supposedly awesome downhill trails and all the features everywhere. sad and sad. everything in slaughter pen was easily rideable on a single speed. The only thing I saw on the trails I didn't ride was the drop on scott allen alley, and mainly because I thought it was shotty construction (who the hell puts a log skinny in the middle of a drop?) We ended up riding everything out there plus a little for barely 15 miles. We were both extremely disappointed in slaughter pen and it will not be on my main travel plans anymore unless its a warm-up ride to get acclimated to the terrain again. Speaking of the terrain down there, i mentioned earlier the gravel road like trails. It took me a good 20 miles of riding it to get acclimated to how my tires hooked up to it. Very different from Kansas City dirt, very interesting stuff.
so I didn't include everything, but this is a long post as is. I almost bought a camera just for this trip and wish I would have....this post would have been better with pictures as we saw lots of photogenic things. until I see you...
peace and riding!!!
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