What does HGTV, Walmart and mountain biking all have in common? Bentonville, Arkansas.
Being married to a teacher, we join the millions of Americans each year taking a spring break. My spouse takes the reigns and plans out our vacation and this year was no exception. But when he told me we were going to spend a week in Arkansas mountain biking, I took pause. I am not really a mountain biker, but he assured me after doing his research I wouldn’t be disappointed. He was right, Bentonville was a pleasant surprise.
There are two main things one notices immediately when driving through the town. First it appears that HGTV took it’s wand over all the houses. Each house is uniquely different and most look like they could be on a cover of a magazine. After a little investigation, we learned that Bentonville natives, Dave and Jenny Marrs, stars and creators of HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous renovated several homes around the town. Once that started, other homeowners took it upon themselves to give their house a facelift. Secondly, Walmarts are on almost every corner. Bentonville, is the birthplace of Walmart with the original 5-10 store. With their corporate offices in Bentonville, it is no surprise that all the Walmart’s (or at least the ones we shopped at) were immaculate.
The town’s newer road system was designed with bikes in mind and the cyclists were everywhere. Bentonville sits in the Ozark Mountain chain and boasts over 140 miles of mountain bike trails. In addition to the mountain bike trails, there are endless miles of paved trails. The combination of paved and dirt paths makes it a great destination for families of all ages. In many areas, the paved trails were adjacent to the dirt paths and made it easy for families to stay together.
I am not an avid mountain biker and if truth be told, I probably wouldn’t mountain bike if it were not for my husband. While I mostly stayed on the paved bike trails, I did venture out on a few gravel trails, and they did not disappoint. Slaughter Pen was the system of trails we spent the most time on. If that name wasn’t intimidating already, some of the trail names include Hammer Drop, Medusa and Armadillo’s Last Stand.
How did my husband rate the trails? From the standpoint the trails are open year-round, he gave it a 10. Duluth and northeastern Minnesota likely will not see open trails until end of May or June. Bentonville trails are what is called machine trails vs handmade, similar to most of the trails in the Duluth area. The man-made trails will most likely have a few tree roots and rocks sticking up. Comparable to downhill ski trails, mountain bike trails are universally color coded by skill level. Duluth’s green trails (easiest) would match up to Bentonville’s blue or moderate trails.
Lastly, one of the main differences is Bentonville trails are centralized with several major hubs that connect all the trails. The trails in Duluth are mostly all connected to each other but there is not a main hub. Riders can get the trails at several different locations, making the trail system spread out and less populated.
I would recommend this town as a destination trip for all generations. From the Moose Lake area, it is a solid one-day drive in the car. If you ever traveled with bikes, having the luxury to be at your destination the same day is ideal. In addition to biking availability for all skill levels, there are so many other attractions and hiking opportunities that I did not even go into. If you get an Airbnb or hotel in the downtown area, you likely won’t need your car. The town is easily walkable with a main center town square. The town square area has local eateries and boutiques scattered around the blocks with delicious smells of food lingering in the streets. Bentonville was a hidden gem for me, maybe it could be for you!
Amy arntson is a freelance writer and photographer for the Star Gazette. In her free time she enjoys travel and activities with her family.
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