Grab a cup of coffee (and maybe a tasty waffle) before you shred the trails. For some serious locally roasted beans try Red Light Roastery. The roastery is owned and operated by mountain bikers, so you know it has that extra kick to help you conquer Northwoods. (Closed on Saturday's and Sunday's)
You'll need to fill your water bottles before you hit the trails, so you might as well drink the best water in the world while you're in Hot Springs. Cold spring water fountains are located at the end of Fountain Street and on Whittington Blvd. You can also refill water at the Waterworks trailhead during your ride.
Hot Springs has three bike shops for all of your repair, refill, rental, and retail needs; Parkside Cycle, Spa City Cycling, and Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Company. Shops will also have complimentary printed Northwoods maps.
Time to hit the trails! Check out 31+ miles of mountain bike trails in the Northwoods, which are accessible right from downtown. There are four trailheads that can serve as home base for your adventure; Bull Bayou, Cedar Glades, Waterworks, and the Pullman Trailhead. For this itinerary we will start at the Waterworks trailhead (300 Pineland Drive), which has ample parking, water, toilets, bike repair station, and one of the best views in Northwoods!
This 3 mile route is a great way to get your tires dirty. Start at the Waterworks Trailhead (300 Pineland) and cross the bridge onto Bearcat Pass. Ride along the shore of Bethel Lake approximately 1/4 mile to the Funguy Trail (Hub B). Fungi is often spotted on this trail, hence the name Funguy! The single track flow trail has some moderate climbs to get your muscles working, but nothing too brutal. The trail ends with a breathtaking view of Sanderson Lake (Hub S). Cross over the bridge (#northwoodstrails), and stay right onto the Freeman Trail which follows Dillon Lake. You will cross over a long and low bridge to the Yaupon Trail (Hub P). Take the first right and Head up Yaupon for 3/4 miles to Sidecar (Hub O) for a 1/2 mile descent to DewDropper (stay right at Hub W, straight at Hub Y), and when you reach Hub R take a left onto the gravel road to drop back in on the super fun and fast Pumphouse Trail, which will dump you right back at the Waterworks Trailhead. This quick and easy route is great to run multiple laps!
This route is for those who want to gobble up the miles. The 15 mile route includes mostly cross country trails, with a few downhills to keep things flowy, fast and fun! Start at the Waterworks trailhead (300 Pineland Drive) and head up Waterworks Green. If you are facing Bethel Lake, the entrance to the trail is on your left. Follow Waterworks Green past Hub C, over a short bridge to Hub N. Drop in on Screech Owl(blue)/Nighthawk(green), two short downhills that both end at Hub F and the Brown Thrasher trail. Take Brown Thrasher and Continue straight past Hub K and unto the Waterworks Blue trail. You will immediately notice a few rock features to prepare you for a more challenging climb to Hub G. Stay left to the Lowrey Trail, a 3/4 mile mostly downhill trail that crosses Wildcat Road (look both ways!) to the Zig-Zag trail. You will traverse up a number of switchbacks, with rock features to test your climbing skills. Zig Zag is about 3/4 of a mile to Hub J, and the entrance to the Cedar Glades section of trails inside Northwoods. This is a good place for a quick breather, granola, and water. Catch your breath, and then head down Mason Jar for 1 mile to Recalculate (Hub 14). You will pass the Beaver pond, the gated entrance to the landfill, and Hub 8 where you turn right onto Bearcat to Hub 7. Ride across the bridge and Continue on Blue Shale, a mostly singletrack series of climbs and descents for 1 mile which brings you to the Cedar Glades Park trailhead and parking lot. The trailhead has restrooms, bike repair station, picnic tables, and a bike skills area (Note: Cedar Glades does not have Potable/Drinking water). Consider this your half-way point and a good place to catch a breather. Time to get the legs loose again. Jump on the paved road and head East to the entrance of the park. Cross Wildcat Road, go around the yellow gate and head down Bearcat Hollow for 1.5 miles of gravel road ending at Lake Sanderson. You will pass Hub A on the way to Hub S. Cross the Sanderson Bridge and onto the Freeman Trail. Within a few feet, you will need to take a sharp left (do not follow the Dillon Lake shore line) and continue for 3.5 miles of singletrack. The Freeman Trail will lead you through two gravel road sections. Simply stay right for 500' at each gravel connector and follow the trail markers that lead you back to Freeman. The end of the Freeman Trail ends at Hub Y. Jump on Dewdropper to Hub R, make a left and then a quick right to the very fun and fast Pumphouse Trail which will lead you right back to the Waterworks Trailhead.
Attention downhill riders! This route centers around Hub H which is where the best descents in Northwoods begin. Ragnarok, Valkyrie, Blue Jay, and Lucky 13. Remember every climb up ends with an adrenaline filled ride down! Start at the Waterworks trailhead (300 Pineland Drive) and head up Waterworks Green. If you are facing Bethel Lake, the entrance to the trail is on your left. Follow Waterworks Green past Hub C, over a short bridge to Hub N. Drop in on Screech Owl/Nighthawk, two short downhills that both end at Hub F and the Brown Thrasher trail. Continue straight past Hub K and unto the Waterworks Blue trail. You will immediately notice a few rock features to prepare you for a more challenging climb to Hub G where you will take a right and climb up to Hub H. You've made it! Expect to run into an enduro rider or two. These downhill daredevils in full-face helmets tend to run the downhill trails all day. Expect to hear them talking about how cool it would be to have a shuttle service running up and down the mountain! Nevermind that, climbing is fun, right?! From Hub H you have your choice of downhills. Blue Jay is just shy of a one mile with rollers, table tops, tall berms and some rocky sections in the second half of the run. Lucky 13 is an expert black diamond trail that includes a 24' gap feature as part of the 1/2 mile section. Valkyrie is a 1.1 mile trail that feels like a downhill cross country trail with some chunky rock sections. Valkyrie, Lucky 13 and Blue Jay all end at Hub F. Head up Brown Thrasher past Hub K or give Valkyrie a try to start your climb back up to the legendary Hub H. Ragnarok is the longest downhill giving riders a more enduro style feel at 1.2 miles of rollers, tabletops, berms, and rock sections. The climb out of Ragnarok back up to Hub H is a doozy, full of rock, punchy sections and switchbacks. There is one more downhill off of Hub H, Wishbone. If you are headed towards Ragnarok, Wishbone begins off the left. This singletrack, bench cut, black diamond trail is for the more experienced rider. Remember to always ride to your ability.
Time to rehydrate and refuel! Grab a beer brewed with Hot Springs’ thermal spring water at Superior Bathhouse Brewery and enjoy some of their delicious farm to table fare. Directly across the street from Bathhouse Row you will find numerous shops and restaurants. The Argentinian Coffee and Wine Bar has amazing tortas, coffee, beer, an oxygen bar, and a great patio out back. The owners are mountain bikers too!
Soothe your muscles with a relaxing soak in Hot Springs’ therapeutic thermal waters. While the majority of the bathhouses have been repurposed, two still operate as spas, each with their own unique qualities: Quapaw Baths & Spa and the Buckstaff Bathhouse. Enjoy private baths and public pools at Quapaw Baths & Spa, or the traditional bathing experience at the Buckstaff Bathhouse. Both offer massages and other spa services as well.
Let's recap our mountain bike adventure day so far; coffee, water, water, bike shops, shredding, eating and bathing. What's next? More trails, of course! Here is another quick suggested route for those who just need one more taste of Northwoods, let's head to another green trail!
This route starts at the Cedar Glades trailhead (461 Wildcat Road). Park at the bottom of the hill by the restrooms. Find the entrance to Evergreen behind the trail map kiosk and cruise this beginner trial to Hub 4. Take a Right on the very short Buzz By trail to Hub 6 and a quick left on Arrowhead back to Hub 4. From here, head down Green Bean to Hub 5. The bridge here is a good place to grab a few pics for your socials. Now head up Unity to Hub 3. You can choose to go left or right on the Waffles and Coffee two mile loop. Once back to Hub 3, take No Limit directly back to the trailhead.
Grab a quick bite at Bailey's Dairy Treat. You can get everything from cheeseburgers, egg rolls, ice cream cones, and banana shakes at this historic roadside burger joint. They close at 7PM, so don’t be late!
I hope you enjoyed your day in Hot Springs and The Northwoods Trails. Follow Northwoods Facebook and website for upcoming events and trail conditions. Happy shredding!
Helmet, gloves, glasses.
Anytime of the year!