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June 12, 2018 Comments Off on Shade keeps Ozarks’ trails cool in summer Latest

Shade keeps Ozarks’ trails cool in summer

Sunshine and summer heat are reasons some hikers and mountain bikers avoid the dusty trail until cooler weather arrives in autumn.

Yet it seems a shame to miss a whole season when nearly every summertime stride or pedal stroke on a forest trail is in the shade. A little jaunt through the woods last week in Siloam Springs proved the point.

We’d been itching to see the new hiking and mountain bike trail at Siloam Springs City Lake and seized an opportunity to investigate. A noon appointment in Siloam left the morning open for exploring, so the mountain bike went into the back of the car along with helmet, bike duds and a full bottle of water.

When four wheels crunched gravel in the lakeside parking lot, the car’s thermometer read a tepid 85 degrees with humidity to match. There was one piece of shade to park the car, but pedaling along the lakdeside trail was shady the whole way, or at least the couple miles of dirt trail we navigated

Tall hardwood trees were shelter from the sun on this midmorning in June. Zigging and zagging along the easy trail was a breeze. Sweaty for sure, but pleasant. Shade doesn’t do much to cut through a blanket of humidity.

A wooden bridge crosses a pretty, crystal clear stream at the route’s start. Riders tackle a few climbs that rate moderate on the wheezer scale. We rode a good stretch of the trail, mostly as a reconnaissance mission for a future NWA Outdoors story on this fine path for wheels and feet. We emerged from the forest with nary a tick, chigger or mosquito bite, basking in the glow of a satisfying bike ride.

Mountain bikers or hikers who’d like to sample the Siloam Springs mountain bike trail can find the gravel parking lot on the north side of the lake, along Taylor Orchard road just east of the city lake dam. Look for more about the trail here in a few weeks.

Most every forest trail in our little corner of the Ozarks offers plenty of shade and pleasant hiking. Getting an early start is good advice. So is insect repellent to fend off bugs.

Ice water is the nectar of the gods on a summertime hike. The night before, put your full water bottle in the freezer so it’ll be frozen by morning. The ice will melt as you hike, providing gulp after gulp of wonderful cold water all along the trail. Better yet, pack two bottles of frozen water.

Snakes? Oh, you might see one, but it’s doubtful. They’re going to hear you trucking down the trail and most likely high-tail it out of the way long before you see them. Rule No.1 with snakes: Don’t mess with them, and you won’t get bit. Harass one, and you’re asking for it.

A fine opportunity to sample an easy summertime hike is on Saturday at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. The park will host a guided hike from 10 to 11 a.m. along the Sinking Stream Trail in the heart of the park. It’s a one-half mile loop trail through the shady woods.

There will be lots of stopping while a park interpreter shares information about trees along the route and about the little Ozark stream that gives the trail its name. Meet at the Historic Van Winkle trail head on Arkansas 12 before 10 a.m.

What’s funny about the Siloam Springs mountain bike ride, I didn’t see another rider all morning. Maybe there’s something to this air-conditioning thing.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com

Sports on 06/12/2018