“This is a great loop that offers a little over 20 miles of excellent varied terrain with a little bit of everything!
— Charles Williams
There is nothing children can't ride on these trails. They are excellent for hiking and trail running, and there are plenty of rocks for kids to climb around on, and even some short caves!
This loop is excellent in EITHER direction, CCW or CW. It's a different experience going each way, but to try to sum it up, I'll put it like this. If you like steeper climbs and longer descents, then CW is your preferred direction. If you like longer less steep climbs, and shorter/steeper and faster descents, then you'll enjoy CCW more.
Strongly consider one thing in your decision making. The Ledges
trail is perhaps the best section of trail on the Back 40 System, and it's an "alternate line." It is "along the loop" if you are going CCW, and it branches off of Back 40 Loop, and rejoins it. It is an amazing 2.8-mile trail, but it is for advanced riders.
Therefore, it's my strong opinion that going CCW is the preferred option if you're visiting and only have the chance to ride it one direction, and you are an avid rider who isn't concerned about some exposure, and technical riding (the few exposed sections are short, and can be walked).
I STRONGLY suggest taking The Ledges
alternate trail, which will meet back up with the Back 40 Loop in a field with excellent signage to make sure you get back on the Back 40 Loop to complete the ride. It only adds about 0.8 miles to the loop total by taking that alternate trail, and it's worth it!
Open 7AM - 10PM. No motorized vehicles. The trails aren't closed for deer hunting season, but bow hunting is allowed on these "common grounds" where the trails are built. It is recommended that you wear orange or hi-vis yellow during season. Check the Arkansas Game & Fish for details: agfc.com/Pages/default.aspx
Need to Know
TIRES!!! This trail is a known "tire eater." It is STRONGLY suggested that you run tires with sidewall protection, and a little beefier tread than you may be used to using. There is loose chat on our trails that can make traction difficult on low profile knobby tires. Leave the XC race tires at home, or you'll destroy them!
Bring at least one extra tube on your ride if you run tubes, and if you are tubeless I suggest having a plug kit, as well as a tube and temporary sidewall "patch" just in case you damage the tire beyond repair. Oh...and bring an extra tire or two if you are planning on multiple days of riding here...better safe than sorry!
ROAD CROSSINGS. There are many of them, and they are marked with crosswalks and flashing lights as you approach. THE CARS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY, so you must stop and wait for traffic to clear to cross. Do NOT assume that cars will stop!!
Bring plenty of water and food...no relief stops!
This loop will cover an amazing "hanging bridge" cut into a rock bluff, and another bridge that spans a creek with a waterfall. There are other vistas along the way as well. It has some technical riding, but it is mostly XC based on the loop proper with rollers, small doubles, berms, and great flow! If you incorporate The Ledges
alternate route, then it immediately boosts the technical aspect.
The climbs are moderate, and the entire loop's elevation change is only around 1,950 feet, so it is a lot of "up and down" along the way, which keeps the interest level high. This loop is a great cross section of what MTB'ing in Arkansas is all about. It's a "must-ride" in the Northwest Arkansas corridor!!
History & Background
These trails are built on "common grounds" that were outlined for the Bella Vista community, dating back to its ownership by the local POA (property owner's association). It goes through wooded areas within subdivisions. This land sat unused, and it was a vision of the community and others to put it to good use by adding mountain bike trails. You'll cross over multiple road crossings as a result, but after the first few, they become commonplace and you don't notice them, because the singletrack is spectacular.
Five different trail building groups collaborated on these trails, allowing them to be completed in less than a calendar year! It's a great example of using land to help bolster the local community's tourism, and to entice avid riders to move their families here for the excellent job opportunities that are present in Northwest Arkansas. Fayetteville, which is about 25 miles south, was recently named the third best place to live in America by US News and World Report!