Fall Outdoor Fun

Photo courtesy ADPT

Cooler temps, fewer bugs, and changing scenery make fall a perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are just a few ideas from a long list of options for hiking, biking, riding, driving, or paddling in Northwest Arkansas.

Hiking Trails

One of the region’s newest public trailheads, Mount Kessler Greenways offers hiking, biking, and running trails in south Fayetteville. The trailhead is located off Cato Springs Road. Take exit 60 off I-49 and go south on Cato Springs Road about one-half mile and turn right on Judge Cummings Road (WC 200); the parking will be on your right. mtkesslergreenways.com

There are also a number of area state parks featuring an impressive array of trails to take you deeper into the great outdoors. They include Devil’s Den State Park, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area and Withrow Springs State Park. For more information, visit arkansasstateparks.com.

Bike Paths

The Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway is a 36-mile-long, shared-use trail that extends from the Bella Vista Trail in Bentonville to the Frisco Trail in Fayetteville. The paved trail contains impressive bridges, follows along several creeks, runs through farmland and wooded areas, and connects to other trails, lakes, and parks. While the greenway offers plenty of scenic beauty, it also links dozens of popular community destinations, including six downtown areas, the University of Arkansas, arts and entertainment venues, restaurants, historic sites, playgrounds, and residential communities.

The region has about 200 miles of mountain bike trails, too, complete with skinnies, a jump park, log rides and other awesome features. In fact, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) this year recognized the region’s off-road trail systems in Fayetteville and Rogers as some of the finest in the nation! Learn more at www.nwatrails.org.

Ride a Motorcycle Route

Eureka Springs is a premier motorcycling destination in mid-America. With plenty of biker-friendly venues, it’s a great hub for riders. This 26-mile loop ride out of Eureka Springs offers great views of the water since it crosses Beaver Bridge and the Dam at Beaver Lake. It takes a little less than one hour to ride the route, which consists of Ark. 62 and Ark. 187. eurekaspringsmotorcyclerides.com

The Rogers and Fayetteville areas also offer their share of ride-worthy routes. Discover more at arkansas.com/outdoors/motorcycling/northwest.

Drive a Scenic Byway

Boston Mountains Scenic Loop consists of two state scenic byways — U.S. 71 and Interstate 49 (formerly I-540) — that provide two very different experiences through the Boston Mountains, the highest portion of the Ozarks. U.S. 71 (42 miles) is a more intimate route with plenty of curves, while I-49 (38 miles) provides stunning panoramic views and expansive bridges. http://www.arkansas.com/scenic-byways/boston/

Float a River

One of the region’s newest outdoor attraction destinations, the Siloam Springs Kayak Park is positioned along the scenic Illinois River and is open year-round. Grab your life jacket, kayak, or canoe and take a run down the engineered rapids ranked Class II and III difficulty. www.siloamspringskayakpark.com

Of course, there are many other rivers and streams — and lakes, too, for that matter — to float throughout the greater Northwest Arkansas region: from Beaver Lake to the White, Kings and Mulberry Rivers, the Buffalo National River, and more.

by Jill Rohrbach

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