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Arkansas Hills Tech Ride: Unkle Nazty and Sand Dunes


A rowdy collection of the original tech trails in the Arkansas Hills.

Mountain Biking Extreme

13 km
432 m
432 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.4 km
Arkansas Hills Tech Ride: Unkle Nazty and Sand Dunes Map

The Arkansas Hills trail system has been cut into the rocky, dry mountains rising to the northeast of the town of Salida. This climate zone is decidedly desert, although the slightly larger vegetation like pinion trees mark it as a high desert climate and not low desert. Regardless of distinctions, with any trail in a desert you’re guaranteed to encounter two things: sand and rock. And the Arkansas Hills has a ton of rock!


While a few intermediate-friendly trails grace the flanks of S-Mountain, this network is home to some very technical trails that break into double black diamond territory, The ride mapped here makes the most of the tech gnar available, focusing on the original tech trails built in the system. Bring your suspension and your cojones, because this route takes no prisoners!

The climb up from the trailhead follows the standard Frontside -> Little Rattler -> FS 173 route, getting you to the goods as quickly as possible.

Once up top, this route follows Pauli and then drops down the classic Unkle Nazty trail. Unkle Nazty is a technical trail of the first degree—steep, rocky, loose. In some sections, the entire hillside is simply covered in rock, and spotting and picking the correct line can be a challenge in places. Rock rolls, drops, and optional jumps make for a raucous descent!

Climb back up, and then turn right before you get all the way to the top to drop into Sand Dunes. Sand Dunes is one of the most intriguing trails in the entire trail system, traversing beuaitufl sandstone cliffs, with mroe rock formations towering overhead. The trail tread is chunky and challenging, with alt lines providing even tougher obstacles.

After snaking around the upper cliffs, the trail funnels into steeper and rockier chutes, and then eventually the dune from whence the trail gets its name. This route follows Sand Dunes all the way back down to the parking lot, finishing with numerous rock ledges and a sweet rock wallride.

If you don’t like riding rocks, you will not enjoy this ride. But if you’re seeking a challenge for your body, your machine, and your skills, this route will put all three to the test!

One final note: this ride utilizes the original tech trails in the Arkansas Hills Trail System. The addition of new—and even more challenging—trails has opened up an even broader range of technical challenges!



Very steep, difficult, narrow singletrack with widely variable and unpredictable trail conditions. Unavoidable obstacles could be 15in/38cm tall or greater, and unavoidable obstacles with serious consequences are likely to be present. Obstacles could include big rocks, difficult root sections, drops, jumps, sharp switchbacks, and more. Ideal for expert-level riders.

Extreme Exposure

4 out of 4

Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.


1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

between February and December


  • Technical
  • Singletrack
  • Drops
  • Tabletops
  • Rock Rolls
  • Rock Slabs
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area