The High Point of Arkansas

There hasn't been a Bike Overnight posted for the state of Arkansas yet, so I'll describe the route of my favorite one.

The ride originates from my home near Russellville. The destination is the highest point in the state at Mount Magazine, 65 miles away. According to Wikipedia, Mount Magazine is a flat-topped plateau with a sandstone cap rimmed by sheer rock cliffs. Two peaks are situated atop the plateau: Signal Hill, at 2,753 feet above sea level (the actual high point of Arkansas), and 2,700-foot Mossback Ridge.

I return via another route on day two, approximately 57 miles.

To begin, I ride out on Akansas State Highway 247 to Highway 7. I cross the Arkansas River into Dardanelle at mile 11, and go west on Arkansas 22. I enjoy rolling hills for 32 miles to the town of Paris, where The Grapevine Restaurant has good food -- and I usually need the hour's rest.

The next 22 miles on Arkansas State Highway 109 are very hilly; I would estimate the vertical rise to be more than 3,000 feet. There are three long hills, each exceeding a mile in length with grades steeper than 8 percent. But these are just a set-up for the final, 4.5-mile climb. Beverages may be purchased at Cowly prior to the ascent. The Mount Magazine State Park visitor center marks the top of that climb. A cool drink can be had there, as well, before the final rolling two miles to the Lodge at Mount Magazine.

The back of the Lodge at Mount Magazine in winter snow.

The lodge is beautiful, perched atop the mountain with a magnificent view. The restaurant has an excellent menu, and the spacious rooms are comfortable. Depending on the shape I'm in, I often take time to walk to the Arkansas High Point on the trail that starts adjacent to the lodge. By then, I have gone from a low elevation of about 320 feet in Dardanelle, to more than 2,750 feet above sea level.

My son at the high point of Arkansas.

The next morning, after breakfast at the lodge restaurant, I leave going south on Akansas State Highway 109 to Havana. There's a continuous, 7-mile downgrade, where you can attain a speed of 40 mph or even faster, so be prepared in cooler weather -- hypothermia can be a concern. I go east on Akansas 10 to Danville for about 10 miles, then north on Akansas 7 to Arkansas 154, about 4 miles. Going east on Arkansas 154 takes you through rolling farmland with light traffic. After about 8 miles I take a left onto Arkansas 28 and ride back to Dardanelle, where I cross over the Arkansas River and retrace the route from the previous day back home.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: Best view of the sunset is from the veranda at the back of the lodge. Be aware that the temperature atop the mountain can be 10 to 12 degrees cooler than the valley floor.

Favorite local bike shop: Springdale Bicycle, where Kelly takes care of all my recumbent bike needs.

1 response so far ↓

allen - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Glad to see an overnight from my home state. I was going to do one but haven't had time to actually go on one this year. This is a good write up. I know some people who ride from Fayetteville down to Mt Magazine every year.

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