Fayetteville is a haven for competitive cycling and mountain biking, and casual bike rides around the city are one of the most popular things to do. Cycling is a great way to experience everything the city has to offer — restaurants, shopping, nightlife — while still enjoying the beautiful outdoors Northwest Arkansas and the Ozarks are known for.
One local cycling team, the Fayetteville Wheelmen, hosts many local group rides and represent our city by racing and riding all over the world, sporting their Experience Fayetteville jerseys. We recently caught up with the team to see what they think makes Fayetteville such a perfect place to cycle every day.
1. Great road cycling
Great infrastructure and a mix of wide city roads and winding county roads in Fayetteville make for the perfect road cycling scene. It’s easy to pile on miles when heading just outside the heart of town into the scenery of the Ozarks and circling back to end right in the middle of town.
2. Expansive bike path trails in many directions for whatever length of ride
Whether you are looking for an easy pedal to the nearest pub, a longer haul to the next town in Northwest Arkansas or something in between, the paved urban bike paths lead the way for any length of ride. With many accessible entries to and from the bike trails, it’s easy to hop on and hop off the path at your favorite spots. This makes the trails in Fayetteville great for all ages and skill levels.
3. Miles of mountain bike trails
Nestled among peaks and valleys, discover hundreds of miles of classic single track around Fayetteville with new trails being added all the time. The first Mountain bike trails in the area began at Devil’s Den State Park in the late ’80s, and the movement has spread across the region like wildfire.
Northwest Arkansas draws mountain bikers from all over with its lush trails and numerous mountain bike festivals. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) recognizes two towns in the region as Ride Centers — one in Bentonville and one in Fayetteville — and the organization even held its world summit here in 2016. From technical rocks and roots that’ll challenge even seasoned riders to buttery, jump-filled flow that’s guaranteed to evoke cheers, it would be hard to get bored of the riding in Northwest Arkansas.
4. Multiple coffee shops and craft beer stops along the Razorback Greenway
The Razorback Greenway is easily the most accessible and popular trail in our area. This 36-mile paved trail weaves throughout Northwest Arkansas connecting all of the towns in our region. This safe, well-lit, paved trail draws riders of all ages and is the perfect pathway to coffee, restaurants, breweries and more.
One of our favorite stops on the trail is Arsaga’s at the Depot on Dickson Street – an old train station, converted into a restaurant with a breezy patio just off the Greenway trail. Riders can bike up and indulge in coffee, local fare and evening libations here, and it’s a must-stop place for out-of-towners.
5. Offers easy, moderate and hard group rides many days of the week
Like the Fayetteville Wheelmen, there are a plethora of bike riding groups, classes, races and festivals. You can find a ride almost any day of the week and riders of all levels cycle together on the trails. The biking community in Fayetteville is passionate and inclusive to all types of riders. It’s not uncommon to hop on the trail or ride out a county road and run into a group of riders that would love for you to finish out the ride with them. Many organized rides take off from popular Fayetteville spots, weave through trails with a view and end back for a group meal or drink after the ride.
6. Rolling beautiful terrains and scenery
You can’t talk about cycling in Northwest Arkansas without talking about the beauty of the Ozark Mountains. Along with being an ideal training area with a higher altitude, the hilly terrain offers a chance to get some wind in your hair while weaving through lush trees, meadows and bits of bicycle-friendly urban areas.
The views change from season to season, so even if you come back to ride your favorite trails, the vistas and foliage will be dramatically different. Even if you roll through town for only a short time, you have to gulp the honeysuckle scented fresh air of the Ozarks.
7. Amazing year-round biking events
One of the greatest parts of riding in Fayetteville is that you can cycle here year-round. Ride with the professionals at the Joe Martin Gran Fondo in the spring or have some fun at the Kessler Mountain Jam that flows through single track in the fall. Most weekends throughout the summer have some sort of road race, mountain bike event, group ride or bike-centric festival going on.
Riders can learn new skills, perfect a flow, race competitively or just goof around on two wheels at all types of events. Many of these events span across multiple days and combine biking with a festival atmosphere of live music, sustainability, local food and community.
8. Voted one of six bicycle friendly communities in Arkansas by the League of American Cyclists
Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community — the highest ranked city in the state. As a bicycle friendly community as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, Fayetteville is among an elite group of communities across all 50 states that are transforming neighborhoods to be more cycling inclusive. It is among the leading cities that are working to build a more vibrant, heathy sustainable and connected community centered around building safe multi-use trails, recreational facilities and harnessing the benefits of cycling.
9. Multiple bike-friendly businesses in NWA that actively support cycling
There are many Bicycle Friendly Businesses in the region to aid cyclists in getting the best gear for all sizes and skill levels, and to connect riders to the best trails. Many visitors to Fayetteville bring their own bikes to ride around town while others rent bicycles at one of several bike stores throughout the area.
The relaxed atmosphere of this college town welcomes riders to dine in local restaurants, hosts large cycling groups on patios, and offers many convenient places to park and lock up your bike. It’s not uncommon to stroll through Fayetteville’s entertainment district and see riders of all ages in all types of gear enjoying the area’s best hangouts.
For more cycling inspiration, check out a list of some of our favorite bike rides in Fayetteville.