May, 2020  

Gravel Road Riding from Fayetteville, Arkansas

While historically known for world-class road cycling, the counties surrounding Fayetteville feature considerable amounts of gravel riding options. Fayetteville and all of Washington County boasts over 500 miles of accessible gravel roads alone.

Surrounded by the Boston Mountain range of the Ozark Mountains, large portions of the Ozark National Forest and more than one million acres of public lands are accessible from Fayetteville and can easily lead to multiday gravel riding adventures. With the Boston Mountains home to the highest peaks in the Ozarks, riders can expect arduous climbs balanced with rewarding descents.

Starting from various public areas on the outskirts of town, the following is a selection of routes for half-day to day-long riding on some of our favorite gravel roads.

Wedington Woods – 26.7 miles, mellow, elevation +1400 FT

From Fayetteville’s Gary Hampton Softball Complex and public parking - this route takes gravel riders west towards the Lake Wedington Recreation Area. Skirting the Wedington Wildlife Management Area and the Ozark National Forest, cruise along popular gravel roads descending into unincorporated communities dating back to the 1800s. Consisting mostly of gravel, this clockwise loop features 75% gravel roads and is a good option for the beginner gravel rider.

What to know: Mostly in rural Washington County, the route does not include mid-ride aid stops. Cyclists should pack enough hydration and nutrition to self-support for the duration of the ride. With plenty of natural water sources, packing a personal filtration device is not a bad idea for the hot Arkansas summers.

See route details https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31557312

route wedington woods

Ozark National Forest 50K - 32.1 miles, moderate, elevation +1531

Starting from the Lake Wedington Recreation Area just west of Fayetteville (for parking) – this clockwise loop takes riders into the Wedington Wildlife Management Area (WMA) of the Ozark National Forest for a 50k adventure on mostly gravel roads.

Surrounding Lake Wedington, gravel riding in the WMA weaves through beautiful hardwood timber forests as it dips down into the Illinois River Valley and across bridges from the last millennium. The route is highlighted by several long stretches of gravel including Lookout Tower Road and a swift 7-mile descent. Consistent, gravel roads make up almost 80% of the route.

What to know: Primarily on public land, the route does not include mid-ride aid stops. Riders should pack enough hydration and nutrition to self-support for the duration of the route or bring means to filter water. The route travels straight across State Highway 412 twice at uncontrolled intersections, but with good visibility. It is recommended to use extra caution at these intersections and always follow rules of the road.

See route details https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32673271

route OzarkNationalForest50k

Low Gap 50K - 32.4 miles, moderately challenging, elevation +2367

Starting from Lake Wilson Park – a rural public park south of Fayetteville – this 32-mile counterclockwise loop dunks south into the Ozark Mountains for memorable gravel road riding between the West Fork and Middle Fork of the White River.

After a short portion of scenic State Highway 71 (popular for road riding) the route picks up extended sections of remote (and sometimes chunky) gravel roads. Expect twisting climbs followed by large descents to the river valleys below. Possibly the highlight, the gravel descent off Lingebaugh Mountain is over 800 feet alone to the White River below. In total, expect a mix of 60% gravel roads matched with 40% scenic blacktop.

What to know: This moderately challenging route does not include mid-ride aid stops. Riders should pack enough hydration and nutrition to self-support for the duration of the route and consider a filtration device for the hotter summer months.

View route details https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31584453

route lowgap50k

Sweet on Sugar Mountain – 42.7 miles, challenging, elevation +2996

Leaving from Lake Wilson Park (public parking) on rural gravel and scenic blacktop, this challenging counterclockwise loop throws the Ozarks at you. Comprised of 2/3rds gravel roads, the almost 3000 feet of climbing will be enough for most.

To link longer stretches of gravel together, the route rolls through the small river community of West Fork where cyclists may find support in the form of small diners and convenience stores. Heading east out of West Fork the route picks up extended gravel roads. A 5-mile climb up Sugar Mountain is rewarded with an equal descent along Parker Branch of the White River.

What to know: While this challenging route may include the option for aid stops, they come early so riders should pack enough hydration and nutrition to self-support for the duration. Remote at times, cyclists should consider a filtration device during hotter summer months.

View route details https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32672377

route sweetonsugarmountain

 

*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.

Be sure to tag @fayettevillear and use #bikefayetteville so we can share in your cycling adventures around Fayetteville!

Cycling Coordinator

Cycling Coordinator