Just east of Fayetteville, Arkansas lies Madison County: a largely untouched area of the Boston Mountain range of the Ozark Mountains. For cyclists, the region is a hidden treasure waiting to be explored, rich with opportunities for remote gravel road riding!
Hardwood tree canopy covers about two-thirds of Madison County, where rolling ridgelines tower over the rivers and farmlands that dot the countryside below. Featuring demanding but rewarding climbs, the “Bostons” that surround Fayetteville are home to the highest peaks and greatest relief (difference between the highest peak and lowest valley) of any mountain range between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. Summits can reach elevations over 2500 feet, with valleys over 1500 feet deep! For another perspective, the mountains were named so in relation to the phrase “a Boston”, a slang term used in the Old West to describe a difficult task. Perhaps a task like traversing an arduous mountain range in the Ozarks by horse and wagon?
If you're ready for "a Boston" of your own, read on for a selection of cycling routes featuring Madison County gravel that begin from a public parking area just east of Fayetteville! After you've had your fill of fun for the day, consider our recommendations for popular locations to celebrate after any ride.
Doing Donuts - Moderate
Beginning from the Goshen Community Center just east of Fayetteville, this 28-mile donut shaped route is peppered with family farms and poultry processors - which provide the majority of workplaces for residents of Madison County.
What to know: While short on mileage, this route packs a punch with four different gravel climbs (and descents) exceeding a mile each. Circling through rural Madison County, cyclists should plan to self-support with the necessary hydration and nutrition they need to complete the route.
The Faith Healer - Moderate
From Goshen, this 35-mile mostly gravel route is highlighted by the rolling ridgelines of Bohannan Mountain and the sweeping Ozark Mountain vistas visible from the Bohannan Township, one of twenty-one historical townships spread across Madison County.
What to know: With close to 3k in elevation, cyclists can expect generous climbing including a 5+ mile stairstep up Bohannan Mountain. With limited resources available, cyclists should plan to self-support on the route, carrying with them the necessary nutrition and hydration to complete the experience.
Madison County Musings - Challenging
This ambitious 45-mile route is comprised of predominantly gravel roads (83%) that wind deep into rural Madison County for a true backcountry adventure by bicycle. Countless streams and tributaries that feed the county’s four major waterways—the White, War Eagle, Mulberry, and Kings—have carved deep valleys into the mountains and created the endless undulation (up and down, up and down!) that is characteristic of gravel riding in the Ozarks.
What to know: Featuring remote areas of the Ozarks and close to 4k in elevation, this arduous but worthy route is best suited for the avid gravel cyclist. Cyclists should plan to self-support the entirety of the route - bringing with them the hydration and nutrition necessary for extended time in the saddle.
After The Ride
From local watering holes to renowned BBQ, east Fayetteville offers a variety of bars, grills, shops, and eateries perfect for commemorating any ride – like the Red Kite Coffee Company – a relaxing little coffee shop popular within the cycling community (research the Red Kite Prayer to see what inspired the name).
If you’re looking to raise a glass, East Side Grill is east Fayetteville's favorite local bar & grill offering a full gourmet menu (meatloaf wrapped in bacon!) and rotating local drafts. Across the street you'll find Penguin Ed’s BBQ, a Fayetteville Landmark for over 25 years that serves everything from BBQ filled baked potatoes to slow, hickory smoked meats.
Looking for more gravel adventures?
Experience Fayetteville has partnered with Ride with GPS for all our route development needs. Featuring unique Points of Interest (POI) and turn by turn navigation, mobile users will want to download the free Ride with GPS app here. For cyclists with personal bike computers, a variety of route files can be downloaded through the desktop version.
Click here for a selection of additional gravel routes to consider. Make sure to tag @fayettevillear and use #bikefayetteville so we can share in your cycling adventures when visiting Fayetteville, Arkansas!