For biking, hiking, bird watching and general fun outdoors, it’s hard to beat Lake Atalanta Park situated one-half mile east of downtown Rogers.
Hard-surface trails and miles of dirt trails are there for exploring on foot or spoked wheels. A 30-acre lake is the park’s centerpiece, which features a concrete trail around the spring-fed reservoir that once supplied Rogers with water.
All the trails, plus Railyard Bike Park, make 236-acre Lake Atalanta Park a dream spot for cycling.
The hardest part about visiting Lake Atalanta is figuring out what do to first. Lots of folks choose the park for mountain biking on dirt trails through the forest. The layout includes easy routes suitable for first-time riders and more technical routes for seasoned off-road gear heads.
So hop on your bike and let’s pay a visit to this scenic park. We’ll ride some trails first, then head to Railyard Bike Park for up, down, round and round two-wheeled fun.
A fine trail sampler is to start a ride at Clark Pavilion on the south end of the lake. Follow the hard-surface path east for a bit past Diamond Spring that pours chilly water into the lake. Then veer off on the concrete to the left to enjoy Ridgerunner soft-surface trail.
Ridgerunner meanders through the woods on the north side of the concrete path. There are some short, moderate climbs that rate a low 5 on the wheezer scale. After a mile or so, Ridgerunner once again joins the hard-surface trail not far from the restroom and trailhead near Pleasant Ridge Road on the far eastern part of Lake Atalanta Park.
From here’s more playing in the dirt by riding back to Clark Pavilion on the Controlled Burn dirt trail that parallels the south side of the concrete trail. Clark Pavilion and parking area soon come into view. For riders who haven’t had enough, stay on the path for an ascent that leads to a hilltop with lofty views of the park. This is a more ambitious climb that gets a well deserved 6 to 7 on the wheezer scale. An exact rating is in the legs and lungs of the handlebar holder.
Make it to the top, and the reward is a twisting downhill run that guides riders to another hard-surface trail. This one heads uphill to Railyard Bike Park. A cool stop before heading to Railyard is at Frisco Spring, which bubbles to earth clear and cold beside the trail.
Be sure to read the information panel with a cute story about Rachel the Lamb. Legend has it that the little lamb went missing for days much to the worry of Rachel’s owners. The panel tells the rest of this entertaining story, so we won’t spoil it for you.
Huff and puff a ways on the climb to Railyard Bike Park. Here novice to expert downhill hard-surface routes offer exhilarating ups, downs and hairpin curves. Jumps send riders airborne from a few inches to high in the sky. Routes go around the jumps for those who wish to keep two wheels on the ground. Each downhill route has an easy return path back to the start. Novice, intermediate and expert paths start at about the same place.
Even the novice route is a roller coaster of easy riding fun. On our visits to Railyard Bike Park, we’ve only mustered enough bravery to tackle the intermediate level downhill. Everyone likes riding the undulating boardwalk through a boxcar that’s the centerpiece of Railyard. For toddlers on Strider bikes, there’s an easy oval for kiddos on their first bike rides.
Northwest Arkansas is truly a cycling destination. That’s obvious by so many out-of-state license plates on vehicles parked at every trailhead in the region, including those at Lake Atalanta Park.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com when he’s not on his bike.