The Perfect Escape: Riding and Camping at Iron Mountain

Escape from the rat race with a sublime weekend of mountain biking and camping at Iron Mountain.

Mountain Biking Easy, Moderate

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Iron Mountain: Red Trail
Photo: Greg Heil

Description

The Iron Mountain Trail System is a mountain biking sleeper hit located south of Hot Springs National Park near the town of Arkadelphia. In truth, this network is located quite a ways from the closest population center, but it is conveniently accessible from the Iron Mountain Campground on Degray Lake. In fact, you can pedal to the mountain bike trailhead from whichever campsite you score, making for an ultra-convenient mountain bike getaway. This is a delightful change of pace from most of Northwest Arkansas's most popular trails, which are only accessible from suburban trailheads with no camping offered nearby.

The trails at Iron Mountain are entirely cross-country oriented, with about 30 miles of interconnected singletrack providing plenty of long, pedal-driven route options. Overall the trails are fast and wide-open, with a few chunky bits interspersed. If you're looking for a destination that will let you crank out miles and miles of singletrack, this is the spot!

The singletrack trails in the network are differentiated by colored blazes on the trees. Some of the flowiest and most popular trails are located closest to the campground—the White Loop as a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The Red Trail is also quite popular, but pedaling the whole trail is a bit higher-commitment than the White Loop as you head a long ways out from the closest trailhead. If you find that you're not up for the entire Red Loop, there are a few shortcut options that will let you shorten the loop. Both the White Loop and the Red Loop provide beautiful views of the lake.

The Iron Mountain trails see very little traffic compared to the more popular trails in Hot Springs and towns like Bentonville. If, however, you accidentally hit Iron Mountain during a busy weekend, you can leave most of the crowds behind by heading to the south side of Skyline Drive. These trails don't see quite as much traffic as those north of the road closer to the campground, but they offer some interesting scenery by dropping down below the massive dam that forms Degray Lake.

This guidebook divides the Iron Mountain trails into four different recommended rides, the longest of which is 10.8 miles. If you want to create a longer ride, it's easy to combine these loops to create an almost 30-mile excursion!

Routes included

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