Spa City Cycling
Great things on the horizon for Hot Springs mountain biking
By Kat Robinson Photos By Amy Long /Courtesy Of Arkansas Department Of Parks And Tourism
The city of Hot Springs is one of Arkansas’ best destinations for mountain biking. The city has received a Bronze-level Ride Center™ designation from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and the area boasts two IMBA epic-rated trails, the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) and the Womble. The Spa City isn’t content to rest on its laurels, though. The southwest Arkansas town, which already sports an in-city greenway for two-wheeled exploration, will soon offer miles of mountain biking trails as well. City of Hot Springs City Parks Director Jean Wallace says new development is on the horizon.
“We’re calling it the Northwoods Urban Forest Park,” Wallace explains. “We are working together with IMBA to develop plans to connect downtown Hot Springs to city-owned property two miles north of downtown. The 1,200-acre park includes three lakes that were originally part of the Hot Springs drinking water system.”
The plan includes several miles of mountain bike trails, which will crisscross that secluded property and offer a variety of difficulty levels for mountain bikers.
Wallace says these efforts are at the forefront of a larger project to connect more bicycle destinations.
“We’ll develop it into a trail system that will benefit our visitors and residents in Hot Springs,” Wallace continues. “Northwest of that area, we’ll connect to Cedar Glades Park, then to Lake Ricks [a Hot Springs reservoir], north to Lake Ouachita and eventually to the LOViT Trail.” This connection will add to the LOViT, which was completed in 2014 by a volunteer group known as the Traildogs, and covers more than 40 miles of trails along and above Lake Ouachita’s southern shoreline.
Wallace shares several other bicycling opportunities around Hot Springs:
“The Hot Springs Greenway Trail is a 12-foot-wide trail for non-motorized bikes. It’s two-and-a-half miles long right now. We hope in the next few years to have all four miles from downtown to Lake Hamilton completed. It runs along Hot Springs Creek, which is the creek into which the hot water from the springs flows. The Greenway Trail runs along Hot Springs Creek and parallels Central Avenue.”
The Greenway Trail starts at the transportation depot near Bathhouse Row and other attractions. It passes by the farmers market and the Veterans’ Memorial, and through the sculpture garden. Wallace says additional sculpture will be placed along the trails’ length.
There are other bicycling options already available for riders in the area, including the aforementioned Cedar Glades Park, which has several mountain bike trails available for riders. Entergy Park along Lake Hamilton’s lakefront offers a smooth path with great views for leisurely cycling.
Planning a visit? If you need a bike, Parkside Cycle (parksidecycle.com) offers rentals Tuesday through Saturday. Located a few blocks west of Central Avenue at 719 Whittington Avenue, this cycle shop can match you up with an appropriate bicycle for the type of riding you want to enjoy, and offers maps and information about each of the trails mentioned in this article, as well as guides to riding the Womble Trail and Iron Mountain Trail, two other mountain bike trail systems nearby.
The Park Hotel downtown also offers cycles for free to guests (with a one-time $5 handling fee) and $20 a day for non-guests.
For more information, visit hotsprings.org