The colors of spring return to the Ozarks. The redbuds and dogwoods are in bloom but that's not the only seasonal change you'll see in Fayetteville. You'll also see the return of the colorful packs of cyclists hitting the roads in Fayetteville.
Long known for its world-class riding, Fayetteville has become a road cycling hub for the southeast. Home to the longest-running multiday professional and amateur stage race in the country, the Joe Martin Stage Race brings some of the top road racing teams to Fayetteville each spring. Not surprisingly, these athletes and their team return again but this time to train. Fayetteville has become a top destination for off-season team training camps. Low traffic density, high road quality, diverse mountain topography, and route accessibility are common answers for what makes Fayetteville an authentic road riding experience – while accommodating professional and casual road cyclists alike.
Keep reading for a selection of road routes perfect for your next long weekend of riding. So grab your favorite skinny tire, bike and head to Fayetteville for some proper road riding among the Ozark Mountains.
County Affair – Mellow
From Fayetteville’s Entertainment District (with plenty of short-term parking), this 45-mile scenic road ride runs deep into Washington County. Starting along the Razorback Greenway, the route heads west - where the landscape becomes dotted with remnants of the small farms that founded the area. Heading north from Prairie Grove, the topography grows more forgiving as Civil War battlefields line the horizon. A cruise through the Illinois River valley leads to Savoy and a respectable climb. Following a series of rollers, the route makes its way back to the urban areas of Northwest Arkansas and along the Razorback Greenway to Fayetteville.
What to know: Leaving Fayetteville, the route follows a good portion of the Razorback Greenway with protected bike paths. Once out of town, expect lower traffic volume while navigating the occasional highway crossing. The route runs along Highway 16 at mile 26 to cross over the Illinois River. Sightlines at mile 37 are poor as the route crosses Highway 112. Cyclists are urged to take extra caution for these few sections. Back in Fayetteville’s Entertainment District, recap the ride with a cup of in-house roasted coffee from Doomsday Coffee or choose from a menu of fifteen gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at Hammontree’s.
Wine Country – Moderate
Starting from Fayetteville’s Veterans Park, this countywide route leaves along the Lake Fayetteville paved trail. Picking up Butterfield Coach Road, cyclists will follow portions of the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Route north into Springdale. Looping back south, you’ll discover bluff line views of the White River and less traveled county roads often windy as the river itself. Returning to Fayetteville, riders are rewarded with Wyman Road and a strip of local favorite pavement known for its rolling farmlands and scenic views – and recently featured in a photo in Outside Magazine’s annual Bike Test.
What to know: While not actual wine country, the route does offer options to sample award-winning wines, local craft beers, and a variety of snacks as part of a mid-ride experience. Both the Sassafras Springs Vineyard and Saddlebock Brewery are located around the halfway point. Moderately challenging, extra caution should be taken at mile 20 as the route follows a short 1.5-mile section of Highway 45. Expect a few decent climbs including a gut puncher at mile 30.
Artist Point Overlook - Challenging
Starting from Fayetteville’s Downtown Square, this 100k out and back follows the Boston Mountain Scenic Byway (US 71), one of eleven scenic byways designated by the state. With miles of sweeping pavement, this local favorite features over 900 feet of elevation change and 3000 total feet of climbing. After ascending Mount Gaylor (and the highest peak along the entire length of US 71), riders are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Ozark Mountains at the Artist Point Overlook – possibly the most scenic overlook in the state and a photographer favorite for decades.
What to know: This route is rated challenging as much of the elevation is on the front half of the ride– with per mile averages exceeding 100 feet. Once a major north-south connection, most traffic has since been diverted with the construction of I-49 to the west. This left miles of scenic road to cyclists and local traffic, with few cars and fewer semis opting to travel this historic but winding stretch of highway. Back on the square, cyclists will find a selection of patios including Cheers at the OPO and Feed & Folly – both serving up heaping plates of flavor and locally brewed beers to wash it down.
Experience Fayetteville has partnered with Ride with GPS for all our route development needs. Featuring unique Points of Interest (POI) and complimentary 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.
Looking for more blacktop adventures? Click here for additional road cycling routes to consider. Also, make sure to tag @fayettevillear and use #bikefayetteville so we can share in your road riding adventures around Fayetteville, Arkansas. Enjoy the ride!