– By Lynn Atkins
Each curve, each hill, each moment opens up a new vista of lush scenery, quaint towns and refreshingly cool waterways. Thousands of trees shade quiet by ways while friendly folks greet visitors and natives alike. Northwest Arkansas is quickly gaining a national reputation among one segment of the population.
It’s the “twistys,” Buck Blanchard of Pig Trail Harley Davidson in Rogers explained. Twistys are what bikers call curves and there are about 137 of them along the Pig Trail alone. The Pig Trail is just one of the rides that draws bikers to the area.
At one time the Pig Trail was the route that die hard Razorback fans took to watch their favorite team. Now the same road is becoming famous with anyone who likes to throw their leg over a motorcycle.
When Interstate 540 opened, all the big trucks and many of the sports fans, abandoned the two lane highway to save time. That left it open for bikers. Like other small, two lane highways in the region, Highway 23 the Pig Trail is in good condition, Blanchard said, and that’s important to riders. So are hills.
“Flat rides are boring,” he said. There are few flat rides in northwest Arkansas. Just when a rider thinks they’ve seen everything Northwest Arkansas has to offer, the seasons change. The cool greens give way to fiery reds and oranges and then the leaves drop off and show the rider a whole new set of scenery. Experienced riders who brave a winter ride, discover they’ve been riding by streams and lakes they never knew existed.
Both newcomers and long time residents can find new places to ride when they pick up the CVB guide to great rides. “Rogers Rides: A guide to the Scenic and Fun,” details five rides from 77 to 283 miles, using the areas smaller, prettier, and sometimes hillier roads.
It all begins with a trip to the “biker-friendly resort” that is Eureka Springs. Beginning in Rogers, the route follows Highway 62 through Avoca and past the Pea Ridge Military Park, turning east at Gateway and crossing Beaver Dam. The trip home is via scenic Highway 12 and takes the rider through the state’s largest park, Hobbs State Park and Conservation Area.
A 194 mile route to Van Buren is called My Way & the Highway. It uses the less traveled highways including 59, 303 and 282.
Another southern route takes the adventurous rider 283 miles to Havana, Arkansas. On the way is Mountainburg, Alma, Ozark, Paris, and Mount Magazine.
The Missouri Connection takes the rider north on 62, but it doesn’t end in Eureka Springs. The 252 mile ride passes both Beaver and Table Rock Lake, and then goes on to Branson. After Branson, the route continues to Bull Shoals Lake and then takes the rider south, back into Arkansas, through the quaint small towns of Harrison, Green Forest, and Berryville.
Finally, the “Hilly-Billy Ride” takes the rider out to Beaver Lake and then south all the way to Ozark and Clarksville, including a portion of the famous Pig Trail. It passes through a tunnel of foliage, bright with fall colors and cool and green during the hottest summer months.
Leaving Rogers to explore the region, riders discover plenty of rest stops where they can stretch, take in the view and compare notes with other riders. Riders always talk about the ride, Blanchard said. After all, for them it’s the journey that’s important. Slowly they’re spreading the word that Rogers, Arkansas is at the center of a biker’s paradise.
For more information about Rogers and nearby bike trails contact Allyson at the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau, 317 West Walnut Street, Rogers, Arkansas, 470 619-3183 or go to www.visitrogersarkansas.com.