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Little Blakely Trail Professional Review and Guide
"This 18-mile trail network consists of five loops of varying difficulties. It uses a combination of old forest roads and newly constructed single-track to explore a wooded peninsula extending into Lake Ouachita. These trails are located 20 miles northwest of Hot Springs."
--Steve Henry, Mountain Bike! Ozarks (Menasha Ridge Press).
This trail is very overgrown, my face is scratched everywhere and I ruined a pair of lenses. There is a 3 MILE!!! section of hike a bike. No way to ride this, it should not even be advertised as a mountain bike trail. It was getting dark and I thought I wouldn't make it back to my vehicle. There are some very steep descents that caused me to end over the handlebars twice. If you make a mistake on the bench cut trail you are going to slide into Lake Ouachita. Thanks to whoever built the trail, and I am appreciative of all those that maintain the trails with their free time, but this is the worst trail I have ever ridden.
i have a hard time giving more than 2 stars to this trail. a fair portion is jeep trail and a lot of it overgrown. the good folks in hot springs had a work party in nov and the trail is likely improved. however, given that one could ride the womble instead i see little attraction here.
Alot of fun unless you ride well dont take Rocky ridge, you will be walking your bike among alot of rocks, however overall the trails are all a blast!!
If you are in the vicinity of Hot Springs area of central Arkansas, I highly recommend taking an excursion off the beaten path to ride the Little Blakely Trail. Although getting there is a bit of a twisty drive through surrounding Lake Ouachita hill country, it is well worth the venture. The Little Blakely is a wonderful gem of a ride that tours the densely forested hollows and ridges of a large lake peninsula. The trail offers fantastic snapshot views of the lake on several sides and does its best to drop in and out of as many hollows as possible without making the climbs too steep or the drops too fast. The ridge lines are flinty with old craggy rock features common to the Ozarks, while the hollows are lush and loamy with gurgling spring fed streams. Overall, the feel and the rhythm of the place is magical and idealic.
The skill level to ride the Little Blakely would definitely be intermediate, as the hill climbing factor alone is cumulatively demanding depending on pace. However, beginners could manage the trail with a slower pace and frequent stops. There are not very many technical sections to this trail, except, perhaps at the trail head area where there is a steep valley climb along a swift flowing creek. I would also be watchful of the many sharp imbedded rocks common especially in the higher ridge areas. These rocks are a boney white color, so are very conspicuous, but falling on them or gashing a sidewall open on them could certainly be a problem. Risks as such are present in mountain biking in general, so I wouldn't let those be determining factors in doing this ride.
Beautiful Forest Trails. Not easty to find the trial head without stopping at the visitor's center and asking (also get a map). Heed the advice on the the North Loop. Very pretty, but steep climbs initially and lot's of big, loose rocks. Definitely a walk/ride loop. Trails are marked very well. You won't get lost. The Morgan Hollow Loop is by far the most fun.
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