Once around the loop nice ride in park
Being the first to hit the dusty trail at dawn means you have the path to yourself during the coolest part of the day. It also means getting a face full of spider webs.
The little eight-legged arachnids are busy after dark spinning their silky webs at eye level above the trail tread. I’ll wager they wait in the wings at sunrise to laugh as the first biker or hiker gets a face full of their silly string.
It’s a minor inconvenience when feeling the joy of an early hour hike at sunrise or a roll along on a mountain bike.
Lately we’ve been heading out one morning a week to Wolf Den Loop at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area for an early mountain bike ride. We’ve been getting to the trailhead at sunrise to circle the 4.2-mile route. Most mornings ours is the only vehicle at the trailhead on Page Sawmill Road.
To get there from the park visitor center, travel about 3 miles east on Arkansas 12 to Rambo Road. Turn left on Rambo and follow it about a mile. Where the pavement takes a hard right, go straight on gravel Page Sawmill Road 100 yards to the trailhead. Parking is alongside the road. Wolf Den Loop starts on the west side of this road across from the longer and more difficult 8-mile Karst Loop.
Bikers are asked to ride the Wolf Den Loop counterclockwise to avoid collisions. Start pedaling left at the trailhead to circle the loop clockwise. Wolf Den Loop is divided into two sections, Wolf Den East and Wolf Den West.
The first 2 miles is along Wolf Den East. The route leads bikers gently uphill, but with lots of level riding and easy downhill. The climb is a cinch, rating only a 5 on the wheezer scale. There’s lots of level riding and easy downhill, too.
Two miles into the ride, bikers come to the connector tunnel under Arkansas 12. The trail under the highway leads to the park visitor center, but bikers will want to go straight past the tunnel to finish Wolf Den Loop.
The final 2.2 miles are along Wolf Den West. Here the fun really gets going. It’s all joyous downhill. Well, mostly. There’s lots of level trail. Momentum carries riders up and over most short ascents that are mere bumps, really.
Just for grins, the trail features a short easy uphill section at the end before the loop finishes back at the trailhead.
There are no spectacular vistas, no bluffs or mountain streams along Wolf Den Loop. It’s just a nice bike ride or hike through the forest, especially at break of dawn.
We’re slow, but prefer to call our progress a scenic pace. It’s nice to stop now and then for a sip of water and savor the quiet and forest scenery. There’s a bit of traffic noise where part of the trail is near the highway.
It’s a fine ride for off-road bikers of any skill level. The only hazard is the occasional steep drop-off at the edge of the trail in some spots. No sheer cliffs, but steep slopes of dirt, gravel and leaves.
Rogue Trails of Rogers did a fabulous job building Wolf Den Loop and all the routes of the Monument Trails network at Hobbs State Park. The park’s maintenance staff does a great job maintaining these and all the park’s trails.
Its good to be an early bird during summer to beat the heat and the crowd. Biking a Hobbs trail at sunrise accomplishes both.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org