Fans of road-cycling excursions and mountain-biking adventures will have trail and park information literally at their fingertips, thanks to a new, statewide guide.
Available for free online at Arkansas.com/Bicycling and in physical form at welcome centers, bike shops, hotels and other locations across Arkansas, the "Arkansas Cycling Guide" includes information and images on area trails and parks, including the Riverfront Skate and Bike Park, Boston Mountain Trail, Springhill Trail and Ben Geren Park. The guide was created by the Arkansas Department of Tourism to highlight the trails and parks and to help promote all of Arkansas, said Joe Jacobs, chairman for the Governor's Advisory Council on Cycling.
"Cycling is off the hook in Arkansas right now, and locals are getting in on mountain biking and seeing what it can do for tourism for Arkansas," said Jacobs, who also is a marketing and revenue manager for Arkansas State Parks in Little Rock. "We did a Slim-Jim version of the guide back in 2009, and we've done later editions.
"This new version is about 130 pages long," he added. "There's no way we can put every trail and bike route in the state in one guide, so this is designed as a tourism piece."
Claude Legris, executive director for the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau, called Fort Smith's inclusion in the guide a bonus.
"Cycling is the thing now; it's the hot button this year and we are very pleased to be included, with the new Riverfront Skate and Bike Park, which is a wonderful facility," he said. "Fortunately, we were able to get into the guide. We're excited about the publication."
The guide also includes the Mena-based Earthquake Ridge Trail and road routes near Mount Magazine that include Booneville, Paris and more, Jacobs said. Trails and parks included were selected based on them being "tourism-friendly;" trails that are free and don't require any kind of registration usually were given priority in the new guide, he said.
"We have a section of events and we have a calendar of events in the guide," Jacobs said. "We have Wheel A' Mena Bicycle Tour in Mena, and the River Valley Rumble is on the calendar.
"Bike shops are listed in the guide, too," he added. "We're hoping to eventually include more bike shops in the ALD listings — that stands for Attractions, Lodging and Dining listings — in the future on the website."
Jacobs predicted that officials will continue to update the guide as more cycling trails are built in Arkansas.
"It's like the cover to the guide says, 'The Ride is Only the Beginning,'" he said. "The goal is to get people here to explore Arkansas.
"And once the new Fort Smith path system is finished, it will be included in the next guide," Jacobs added. "I already have a list of things that aren't in this guide but will be included in the next edition."