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September 1, 2017 Comments Off on NWA’s Roads Worth Riding: Pick a Direction to Devil’s Den Latest, Motorcycle

NWA’s Roads Worth Riding: Pick a Direction to Devil’s Den

Devil’s Den deserves to be on the list of the area’s most magical motorcycle rides because it offers the rider such a wide range of experiences. And yes, many of the roads thus far profiled have proven dynamic — but the ride to Devil’s Den, perhaps like the ride to Eureka Springs, offers the rider a whole host of beautiful views and tight turns.

I’ve also chosen to offer Fayetteville as this ride’s starting point, to give due attention to as many of Northwest Arkansas’ wonderful towns as I possibly can. So far, Rogers and Eureka have received all the credit.

Devil’s Den offers a special opportunity for the rider who enjoys every aspect of being outdoors. If you’re looking for a full day of activity from this particular ride, I might suggest packing a backpack with shorts, a clean T-shirt and maybe something other than your riding boots for your feet.

Devil’s Den is its own point of interest. The park features some of the state’s most beautiful hiking trails, as well as natural streams and rivers. It is a true joy to explore there, and bikers who are also naturalists should find themselves quite capable of spending a few extra hours off the Hog.

Getting to Devil’s Den should still be half of the fun of going — if you know how to get there.

I advise beginning in Fayetteville.

Getting to Devil’s Den will begin on U.S. Highway 62. You can get there several ways, but the easiest and most central would be to shoot west on Weddington Drive, then take Shiloh Drive south to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which will become Highway 62 once you stay on it long enough heading west.

The trek to Devil’s Den is a good one for several reasons: First, this method of getting to Devil’s Den, though not the fastest, may be one of the easier rides reviewed so far. It’s not terribly challenging, but it makes a great point of introduction for a newer rider and is still totally scenic.

This may be one of the most well-suited entry level loops for a rider looking to get his or her bearings in Northwest Arkansas. It covers every type of terrain, and introduces some wonderful sections that are suggestive of what riding here is like, minus the intense technicality associated with going somewhere like Eureka Springs.

The time you’ll spend on Highway 62 is perfect because it allots for speed without the constant buffering of the interstate, and it’s not entirely straight either.

As you leave Prairie Grove on Highway 62, you need to be looking to turn left onto South Mock Street and then a slight left onto Hogeye Road.

Once you reach the town of Hogeye, get on Arkansas Highway 265 going south. It’ll be a right turn in what is a wonderfully old feeling place. I mean that in the most endearing way possible. Hogeye reminds me ever so slightly of Seneca, Kansas, where my grandparents lived when I was young. It has a vibe that mixes sincerity with a longing for more than one gas station, and it feels as genuine as a small town can.

Things become a ton of fun once you make the transition onto Highway 265. The turns pick up a little, and you get the hallmarks of the most classic Arkansas riding. A road that is rarely straight, 265 manages to remain more entry level because of the way it winds.

The road features very long corners in the same way Fayetteville features long hills. They aren’t tricky, and you only three-quarters notice you’re leaning, making this the perfect direction of travel for a newer rider trying to become accustomed to the excellence on display here.

Be sure to turn south onto Arkansas 170. The fun begins and the ease starts to end on the way into the park.

Entering Devil’s Den is Narnia-like, because it’s so beautiful. The elevation change is noticeable, and opens up some stellar views.

Something to be aware of is the possibility of construction in the park. Road crews are out there fairly often, and if you’re riding after a rain, it would be wise to be prepared for the possibility of gravel, which is a rider’s worst enemy.

The coolest parts of the park are the super slow, very banked switchback turns you’ll encounter on the way out.

Once you leave Devil’s Den, options for going home abound.

I left through Winslow on Arkansas Highway 74, which is part of the Arkansas Scenic Byway, then hopped on U.S. 71 North to return to Fayetteville.

The ride home may be a little bit cooler than the ride there, actually. It’s faster, and the stretch of Highway 74 that leaves the park is probably the most challenging or technical part of the ride. It’s absolutely no Arkansas Highway 23, but it’ll allow you to stretch your wings.

Be aware that in sharp contrast to most of the roads in Arkansas, the corners on Highway 74 are not particularly well marked. I came into a couple with a bit more speed than I should have, and it’s never fun to have to hit the brakes in the middle of a mean lean. Don’t go slow, just be cautious.

Before we end, I’m going to offer an alternative method of arriving at Devil’s Den, in case you want to get there faster, or be farther away from civilization. Using Highway 62 is great, and will be wonderful for beginning riders. But if you’re looking to feel more in tune with nature, try it like this:

Instead of taking 62, hop onto I-49 South and head toward Fort Smith. You’ll start seeing signage for the park within a few miles. Take exit 53 for Arkansas Highway 170 and turn right at the end. It’ll dump you onto a more remote road, though less maintained. However, it features more curves, which ought always be the goal.

Devil’s Den made this list because it’s a ride rife with options. There are tons of ways to get there and tons of ways to get home. You can hike, experience new views and even stop in any of the tiny towns you’ll encounter for some good eating. This is one of Northwest Arkansas’ greatest hidden gems, and there’s no better way to see it than on a motorcycle.