Friday, March 25, 2016

Slaughter Pen

Today we rode Upper Slaughter Pen, located in Bentonville, AR. Yes, headquarters of Walmart! Bentonville is actually a great outdoorsy town and the trail system offered up steep technical rocky climbs, fast-flowy singletrack and a great downhill park that was expertly built for speed. We were able to ride in the shadow of several rock overhangs and behind waterfalls. 

We also finished the day with dinner at the "Peddler's Pub". A really nice eatery that served local brew and featured an eclectic band that sounded retro but was entertaining. It was a great day for all of us. We rode about 14 miles total.


Milage >15

Elevation gain >1000'

Remember to duck your head.

This is way steeper than it looks.

Bentonville is definitely a biking community. Starting in town, an 8-mile paved trail connects half a dozen offroad trail systems. First up are two loops totaling 8-miles of intermediate terrain featuring rocky climbs, rolling descents and overhanging cliffs with very narrow passage. A downhill course of high bermed turns, single and double jumps, tabletops, and flowing straights is the best designed and built downhill track I have seen since Whistler, BC. It is that good.

There are four more 6-8 mile systems with similar features except for the downhill course. If you rode all the trails that access the paved urban trail you could have a 40 mile day. Considering that each loop hs several hundred feet of elevation gain, spreading this over two days would be wise. In total there is close to 1800' of elevation gain. Very little is gut busting. It is mostly just steady climbing and descending. Most of the surface is rocky, some is exposed slick rock. All of it is something an intermediate rider could complete if they studied the trail and chose lines wisely.

Within 30 minutes are another 7-8 trail systems with similar features except for the cliff overhangs. This area could easily support 4-5 days of riding.

Bentonville is a chi chi town with a vibrant downtown featuring the Fat Tire bike shop and the Peddler's Pub, a micro-brew with a wood fired pizza oven. It's a great way to spend a free afternoon, assuming you get off the trails long enough to explore.

I appreciate this is a long way from Tampa, but combined with other nearby trails, northern Arkansas is a fun destination.

Climbing between the rocks.

After completing our stay at Mt Ida, we were supposed to head to Amarillo TX, but decided to return to Bentonville because we so loved the trails there. After having lunch at the Pedalars Pub, we stopped next door at Progressive Trail Designs, the company that built all the urban trails thru Bentonville. We talked with Woody, the owner, who told us the Walton family (Walmart & SAMs Club) paid for the trails that Woody had been building for the past seven years.

Returning to our motel, Dennis, who worked at the motel, introduced himself after seeing our bikes. We told him of our trip and we talked bikes. Dennis suggested a local bike shop where we could get trail info. At the shop, the owner saw us drive up and said Woody had talked to him about us and our trip. While there we met the Walton family's number one man for getting the trails built. He told us Walmart would be adding another thirty miles of mountain bike trails by September. Having met every bike dignitary in town was amazing.

The top photo is Wolf on one of the many technical structures along the Lower Slaughter Trail. Next is Wes attempting the downhill course, and then there is Marty starting her climb up President Hill, so titled because President Bush rode his mountain bike up the same hill as part of a fitness challenge for veterans. 

The Upper Slaughter trails that we rode over the weekend and the Lower Slaughter are all part of a thirty miles system of intermediate level urban trails that can be reached from the center of town by an eight mile, paved multi-use connector. Add to this another half dozen state park trails within an hours drive and you have a weeks worth of riding. I rate all these trails highly because of the variety, and well planned construction.

You definitely didn't want to dismount on the right side.

We all rode this a bunch of times, getting faster with each lap.

Very few make this steep climb of loose rocks.

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