Mountain Bike! Ozarks
by Steve Henry (Menasha Ridge Press)
© Steve Henry/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.
If you are all about die hard single track and nothing else, avoid this place. If, on the other hand, you like a variety of trail types, including gravel fire road and double track, this may be your kind of place.
Since all I had was a single day to experience Bear Creek, I rode from east to west and back. My total trip was about 36 miles, which took about (6) hours. Since it's hard for me to do an epic scale ride without a primary driving inspiration, I made the Powell Mountain fire tower my chosen destination. This worked well because the tower was about 1/2-way from my starting point at the Deckard Mountain Trail Head. I rode the trail as recommended, counterclockwise from east to west. This was done to avoid several beasty climbs on both the east and center loop sections. A secondary benefit was avoiding a long bumpy drive into the park on several long gravel roads. The down side, of course, is being tired and having no choice but to ride all the way back. Fortunately, if time or daylight is short, or fatigue has taken its toll, there is the alternative to ride FS-11 all the way back from Powell Tower. One design benefit built into Bear Creek trail system is it's multiple trail heads and stacked loops that can be ridden in a number of combinations. If I ever ride it again, my choice would be to start in the middle at the Horse Camp trail head and break the ride into two medium length days rather than one long one. Camping is allowed almost anywhere along the trail, so bring that gear if you consider that option. Besides experiencing the incredible ridge vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys, another positive of riding in this wilderness area is the shear abundance of wild life. Along with seeing a few wild turkeys and elk, I even saw a black bear on the steep decent down the east loop to the gravel road. Michael S.
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