Trail Loops–Five of the them!
If ever you want to take a road trip for mountain biking, ride the Syllamo. Located outside of Mountain View, Arkansas, the Syllamo bike trails consist of 50 miles of single track and fire roads with five loops. White River Bluff Loop is 4.5 miles marked by green colored blazes on brown four foot markers. Bald Scrappy Loop at 7.3 miles is marked by orange blazes. Scrappy Mountain Loop at 12 miles marked with blue blazes and Jack’s Branch Loop at 14 miles marked with yellow blazes.
Refer to the following map to see how the Syllamo mountain bike trails are laid out. http://www.syllamosrevenge.com/dl/Syllamo_MTB_Trail.pdf
To see more things to do in Mountain View, Arkansas, read A Weekend Away in Mountain View.
The 50 miles of trail once considered an EPIC ride has now been relegated as a “Hall of Fame Epic Trails”. New criteria has been established for judging Epic trails, past and present, by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) to be a demanding, mostly singletrack adventures in a natural setting. The Epics designation denotes a true backcountry riding experience—one that is technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length.
The EPIC description fits the Syllamo trails as other opinions by Outside Magazine rated Syllamo as one of the Top 20 Outdoor Destinations in the United States and one of Men’s Journal’s Best 52 Weekends in the United States. With Syllamo’s challenging terrain, race organizers host mountain bike and ultra endurance running races every year. For mountain bike races, the 30 and 50 mile Syllamo’s Revenge Mountain Bike Challenge will be held mid March. See http://syllamosrevenge.com/ for race information. For hard core running, the “Three days of Syllamo” offers trail running stage races of 50k, 50 mile and 20k trail running races throughout the Syllamo trails.
During a visit to the Mountain View 34th Annual Beans and Outhouse Races, the last weekend of October, I took the opportunity to ride two loops of the famed Syllamo trails.
The Syllamo trails are a backcountry experience with scenic views of the Arkansas landscape.
There are also challenges for the seasoned mountain biker through various trail features of steep elevation, rock gardens and terrain changes of hard-pack, dead fall, softball-sized stones and sandy trail sections.
Where do I start?
The Syllamo trails offer multiple access points to the trail heads. There are direct drive access points to 4 of the 5 different trailheads along the Green Mountain Road with exception of the Bald Scrappy Loop marked with orange blazes. It is accessible by riding 1.9 miles along the Scrappy Mountain Loop marked with blue blazes or accessed from the Syllamo Trailhead on AR Hwy 5. Another unique feature are riding short downhills by shuttling vehicles from the Green Mountain road at the Scrappy Mountain loop and end your ride at AR Hwy 5. Look for the Green Mountain road trailhead sign as shown and refer to the drive mileage to the loops or if you are really hard core you can climb the Green Mountain road adding the extra mileage.
For other trailhead access points checkout Ozark Recreation Directories at http://www.ozarkmtns.com/sylamore/activities/mtnbiking.asp
I rode on Friday and Saturday with the hardest rated trail Scrappy Mountain Loop and easiest rated of the trails Bad Branch Loop.
Refer to the following trail ratings for fitness and skill level posted by the Sylamore Ranger District.
Scrappy Mountain Loop
The 12-mile Scrappy Mountain loop (blue) is rated a difficult skill level by the Sylamore Ranger district unless you are a Red Bull energy drink rider. The loop comprises of natural large limestone stone gardens creating a technical challenge to maneuver a line to pick through. This challenge is encountered going up and down steep mountainous switchbacks with a 600 plus feet vertical rise at high and low points with three river crossings. There is a bailout to the Green Mountain road on about the 8 mile mark.
Take it Easy–Syllamo Bad Branch Loop
The easiest, but the longest loop is the Syllamo Bad Branch loop with red blazes at 14 miles with about 1000 feet easy sloping elevation gain. Singletrack routes along the contours of the mountain side for fast trails. Trail conditions at the time vary with sandy sections, large softball loose stones and fallen branches and barbed bushes. There are two bailouts to exit at the Green Mountain road at 4 and 8 miles which will loop you back to the trailhead.
TIPS before you go
During Oct 1 – Feb 28, Syllamo area gives a new twist in multi-use trails with bow hunting season then modern gun season in mid November. I neglected to check the very small orange square safety sign in photo below which stated:
Attention Trail users for your safety your are strongly encouraged to where blaze orange while using the trail.
The Scrappy Mountain Loop did not have as much overgrowth as other trails. The trail is strewn with rock gardens, limestone paths and forest canopies limiting forest floor growth. The easy Bad Branch loop had swaths of trails with open areas allowing sun exposure encouraging the fast growth of thorn bushes and saplings.
During my ride in the last week of October there was heavy overgrowth and fallen trees where I had to dismount to maneuver them like a cyclecross race. Otherwise, the trails were pleasantly challenging and allowed for a fast ride along the switchbacks.
Trails are cleared by mid March to accommodate the 30 and 50 mile Syllamo’s Revenge Mountain Bike Challenge and the three days of Syllamo for trail running races. Bring small bills for the $3.00 day use fees to help support trail maintenance.
It is highly recommended to contact the Syllamore Ranger Station for conditions and closures throughout the year as well as trail maps and various trailhead access. Contact information below.
Sylamore Ranger Station
PO Box 1279 (1001 East Main Street)
Mountain View, AR 72560
870-269-3228 Monday-Friday 8am to 4:30pm
Cell phone service is spotty so bring a buddy, communicate your trail ride plan and expected return or bring a GPS messager device such as–
Since you may ride 12 miles or more away from the trailhead bring the necessary first aid, tools, tubes, patches, C02 cartridges to ride out back. I had to change out my two tubes after running over thick thorn bushes to continue my ride. Also, bring a buddy to ride point (in front) so they can clear your way of spider webs.
The Syllamo trails area is in a dry county. BYOB. There is a package store available in the next county 18 miles outside Mountain View.
Does this sound like an EPIC-trail to you? Please share by commenting below!
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