Slaughter Pen Trails Phase I crisscrosses the hillside with several old-school trails packed with short climbs, wooden bridges, sharp banked turns, and a short downhill run packed with many fun features.


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Phase I of Slaughter Pen is where Nathan “Woody” Woodruff, founder of world-class trail building company Progressive Trail Design, cut his teeth on singletrack trail design and construction.

With all the technical challenging trails Woody and others are currently developing in Northwest Arkansas these days, Phase I feel a little dated.

But there is still great fun to be had here on a mountain bike. Beginning at the parking lot there are a couple wooden drops at the trailhead that are fun to play around on.

Then I recommend riding Phase I counterclockwise, continuing your warmup on Seed Tick Shuffle’s wooden skinnies and flat terrain.

When you reach the end of this trail it’s always fun to ride Free Ride Park, with the elevated start and sweeping turns, to work on your handling before riding the short, steep climbs and high banked turns on Medusa.

This rocky, narrow trail works its way up the hillside to accumulate the elevation needed for a fast run on Downhill.

For its time, Downhill was a pretty challenging run, with very sharp high dirt bermed switchbacks, table-tops, jumps, and wooden walls packed into about a quarter-mile run.

I’m sure this was the first directional trail in the area because there is plenty of speed to be had here, and after you reach the bottom and go high on the wooden wall with the state of Arkansas painted in the middle, you’ll want to take the paralleling short trail to climb back up for several redos to try to go faster in the turns and higher on the walls. After you’ve mastered the wall rides enough to leave your tire tread at the top, Tatamgouche and Armadillo’s Last Stand are next, as they crisscross the hillside loaded with dips, wooden structures, and narrow rocky singletrack.