Can't believe this wasn't the first trail entered for Arkansas!
The Womble Trail stretches over 37 miles from Northfork lake to the Ouachita National Recreation Trail at Lake Ouachita. This trail is considered to be one of the best single track trails in this area. Short segments of the trail meander along bluffs of the Ouachita River providing breathtaking views. The Womble Trail is the
venue for the Womble Mountain Bike Race.
Visitors can use the short spur trails to access three float camps located along the south shore of the Ouachita River. Rocky Shoals Float Camp (O.3-mile spur), Fulton Branch Float Camp (0.3-mile spur) and River Bluff Float Camp 1.6-mile spur). The Float Camps offer fire rings, picnic tables and vault toilets at no charge. Less than one hour to Hot Springs, Arkansas.
This single track trail provides opportunities for riders of all skill levels. There are a multitude of options for out and back rides or setting up of shuttles, or utilizing adjacent Highways and county roads for return loops.
There are several climbs that any intermediate rider will have no problem staying on the bike. Lots of undulating trail on mostly groomed single track with occasional technical sections and creek crossings. Be extra cautious near the bluff areas. It is a long fall.
Some areas are wet and muddy during rainy season. (Especially East of Highway 298 for about 3 miles).
37 miles of groomed single track, over some of the most scenic areas in the state. Travel time one way is 5-10 hours Marked with white triangles.
Local Canoe Rental operations will provide shuttles for a small fee.
Directions: There are four trailhead parking areas. Round Top Trail on Forest Road D75A, Highway 27 south of the bridge crossing Lake Ouachita, North Fork Lake and Highway298 trail intersection. The Trail is also
accessible from the three float camps and adjacent forest roads.
Summary: I rode the Womble on August 24th. I had business in Ft. Smith the day before and decided to take the next day off and go ride this IMBA epic. I am glad I did. I stayed the night at the Highway 27 Fishing Village and Ron shuttled me to the trail head early the next morning. I highly recommend this. The room was clean and affordable ($60 something). It had a big front porch right on the lake where I got my bike ready the evening before my ride. Ron, the owner, knows the area well and took me to the Northfork Lake trail head the next morning. He suggested we stop half way and drop off some extra water -- which I am glad we did. Even though I used my larger Camel Back, I still needed more water. The first mile of the trail from Northfork Lake is basically flat, but then you quickly start the long climb up Gaston Mountain. The climb is doable (note - I ride a lot but am not in race-day shape and not a great climber), but I was not warmed up yet so it made the climb difficult. No hike-a-bike, but definitely stopped a few times for oxygen! After the Gaston Mountain climb (about 5 miles into the ride), you get some great downhills. Then, you come into flat section for several miles. I would agree with some of the other reviewers here that while the entire trail is great, the most enjoyable section was between the Fulton Branch and the Hwy 27 Fishing Village -- which is towards the end if you start where I did at Northfork Lake and finish at the Hwy 27 Fishing Village. Lots of good up and downs, and very cool bench cut trails through the hills. Note -- as others have said, the trail here is very narrow and it can be intimidating as the trail is basically cut into the side of the mountain with the bottom being a good way down. If you ride a fair amount, this is no big deal, but I could see where it would be very nerve racking for a new rider or a young rider. I stopped multiple times for oxygen breaks. I cramped up quite a bit towards the end of the ride as well, as even though I ride a fair amount, my body is not accustomed to that much climbing over 25 miles. I also used 4 or 5 hammer goo gels, and stopped about half way at the 270 crossing and ate a PB&J I had made the night before and packed in my Camel Back. I finished the ride in about 5 hours, took a shower at the Hwy 27 Fishing Village and drove back to Texas. Awesome!
Recommended Route: I have read the debate about whether the trail is more uphill one way versus the other. I don't think it matters. Either way you go is going to have serious climbs and serious downhills. And the flat parts are, well, flat no matter which way you go. I recommend you use Ron's shuttle from the Highway 27 Fishing Village. That way, you can leave your car right at the point you finish your ride.
Other recommended trails in the same area: None. First time riding in Arkansas -- but not my last.
Summary: Rode this trail with my son middle May 2011, we had a blast. Trail was maintained, well marked, and very scenic. A few challenging climbs with some fast downhills but for the most part the trail fairly level. Parts of the trail had some cool stream crossings. We found some cool quartz crystal formations as well. You can't get complacent because the trail gets on narrow bench tops that drop off steep to the sides. There are some views that are worth checking out. We stayed in a motel in Mt Ida, nothing fancy but comfortable beds and nice shower. Mt Ida Cafe had some good grub. Trail is rated epic by imba for a reason, worthy of a trip.
Recommended Route: I rode the whole trail except for the northern most five miles due to flooding. I enjoyed the whole trail but the best was from th Hwy 27 fishing village to fulton branch trail head, about miles. I arranged a shuttle with Ron at the fishing village for 30 bucks. Maps of trail were free at the tourism center located on hwy 270 in the middle of Mt Ida. The map showed all of the trail heads, parking, road crossings, etc. Go to the fishing village and ask for Ron as he has a lot of knowledge about the trail. He rides the trail often.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Ouachita Vista trail is only about 10 miles from the Womble and skirt Lake Ouachita. Nothing like the Womble but rolling terrain had some medium climbs and some decent downhill.
Summary: Super fun rolling single track through the woods of AR.
Recommended Route: I parked at the highway 27 TH. The rode west to the end of the trail and returned to my car. Almost 50 miles and 4500' of climbing. Not many places you put in those miles on one trail.
Xtrkona...you're a trail snob. Of course this isnt Moab, CO, or the four corners area. Its the best AR has to offer. But I'm glad ypu could discern tue difference between the Womble and Porcupine rim...very sharp!
Other recommended trails in the same area: Only trail riden in AR.
Summary: Nice, well maintained, flowing trail through pines and oak trees. Trail surface is a natural chipped gravel type surface that looks sketchy at first and you think you'd wash out easily on turns, but it's suprisingly grippy stuff. Many sections of the trail are built such that you gain enough speed going down, to make it up the next little uphill, then repeat again, making some of the trail like a fast, fun roller coaster ride on a bike. I think there were sections I went for a mile with very little pedaling. I began at Hwy 27 and headed south, the first climb is a monster and I wish I had warmed up before hitting that climb. Once to the top, it turns into some narrow, bench cut contour trails. I didn't run into anything even mildly technical, unless you count staying on the narrow bench cut south of the Hwy 27 trail head. It's not technical in the sense of being rough, just that you have to stay very aware and don't look down the side of the trail! It's steep and a long way down with just large trees to stop you.
Recommended Route: I can't recommend much, as I only got to do an out and back on half of the trail. The climb going south from Hwy 27 is a big one, but it was a blast going down on the way back. Next time I think I'll start in the middle near Rocky Shoals on 298 and ride out and back both ways, two seperate days. Or find a shuttle and start from the North Fork lake.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Not from this area.
Summary: Rode this trail last Monday and was thoroughly impressed!! It is definitely off the beaten track (Was headed back to Austin from Kansas City), but the trip was worth it and would do it again without hesitation. Started my ride at Hwy 92 intersection and headed East -- great hillside/mountainside riding on a pristine trail and not a human in sight. Technically, the trails aren't challenging but you will get an excellent workout and there are some really nice downhill stretches where you eat up serious trail -- of course you have to climb them again if you plan to backtrack, which is what I did.
The trail stays pretty close to the Ouachita River and I am sure if you had more time you ought to spend some time enjoying it, too. I stayed at the River View Cabins in Oden, and the folks there were great -- alllowing for late check-in and late check-out. The cabins are fully furnished and provide an easy 3.1 mile warm-up ride off of Hwy 92 to the trail.
Oh yeah, watch out for poison ivy and poison oak -- it is everywhere!! If you're gonna be out a long time, consider taking a water filter since it was humid as all get-out in the summer.