The Lake Fort Smith/Oark Loop – Just one more favorite ride of the locals
In our never-ending quest to provide a great riding experience for our visitors, it’s my job to try out every road in this part of the country, and many throughout the state. And they pay me for this; it’s like being a big time travel journalist. You may be thinking, “Joe, do you need an assistant?” Um, no. Unless, of course, you meet the following criteria. You have (1.) some sense of direction, (2.) a large limit on your credit card, and (3.) beer for after the ride.
All that aside, each of the ride maps on this page are a suggested ride that my friends and I personally recommend based on beauty, quality of pavement, and stopping places.
So, here we go. Leaving Fayetteville, go south on Scenic Highway 71 to Alma. Stops on this route may include the Brentwood Rest Stop, Grandma’s House Café, Artist’s Point, and the Lake Fort Smith Visitors Center.
At Alma, turn east on U.S. 64 and make your way to Coal Hill. Stops along the way can include the Bluff Hole just east of Mulberry, Riverside BBQ (and the bar right next to it) in Ozark, and the various wineries as well as Tommy Dean’s Night Club in Altus. (I love Tommy Dean’s, but to call it a Night Club may be a bit misleading. When you and your friends walk in, there is a strong possibility that the per capita tooth rate will increase considerably.)
On the eastern edge of Coal Hill, turn north on AR 164. If you have limited range, top your tank off before this leg. (Unless you are endowed with both siphon hose and siphoning skills, this stretch could lead to a really good story about the time you ran out of gas in a remote area and started to hear banjo music.) Hwy 164 is a very attractive ride, but you haven’t seen anything yet. After about 10 miles, it intersects with AR 103, and the good times start to roll. In my mind 103 is superior to almost every road in the region in every way. (And I love the Pig Trail.) Miles of “green tunnels”, nicely sweeping curves, a LOT of serious switchbacks, and a stretch bounded closely by a river on one side and bluffs on the other. Both ascending and descending portions of this road can be pretty extreme.
At the end of this road, you’ll come to Oark and the Oark Store where you can fuel up, and grab an extremely good burger. Then back the way you came for a mile or two and head west on AR 215 to the Pig Trail (AR 23). North on The Trail (and that’s the best section of The Trail) to AR 16. Then just turn left and travel the final 30 miles or so into Fayetteville.
This entire route is about 170 miles. I promise you’ll thoroughly enjoy the ride and I’ve never lied to you, to your knowledge. For the map, click here.
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Get Bikes, Blues and BBQ Maps for Some Great Rides.
To help make your riding experience more enjoyable we have developed the series of maps listed below. Click the links, print out the map, and explore the different routes.
We hope you enjoy the maps and if you would like to rate the ride or add a comment please click on the link at the top of the written directions on the left side (for those maps with written directions. We really think you can read a map without employing written instructions.)
- BBB Rally Map
- BBB Parade of Power Route
- Alpena Ride
- Eureka Springs Ride
- The Lake Fort Smith/Oark Loop
- Gateway Ride
- Hub Ride
- Joplin, Missouri, Ride
- Noel, Missouri, Ride
- “Old Town” Van Buren Ride
- Pig Trail Ride
- Roaring River Ride
- Siloam Springs Ride
- Winslow Ride
- And for other ride maps, check out:
It’s easy to get directions to the starting point from your location:
- Open a map from the links above.
- Click “Save to My Maps.” This is located on the left side of the page at the top right of the written directions. You will then have to either sign-in with a current Google account name and password or create one. This only takes a few minutes and it’s free!
- Then click on the starting point link on the left side.
- Click on the box on the map and enter your location next to “Get directions.” Then click, “Go.”
- The left column will show you the directions from your location to the start point of the ride map that you have selected.
- Finally, click “My Maps” located at the top left under the Google logo to get the directions for the rest of the route.