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Bentonville, Arkansas, has quickly put itself on the map as a mountain bike destination, but an announcement on Wednesday by area stakeholders gave the northwest Arkansas destination a new designation: the mountain bike capital of the world.
Bentonville city leaders, tourism officials and other backers, including Tom and Steuart Walton’s Runway Group, say that Bentonville’s premium mountain biking experience is the result of a concerted effort by the community and its leaders, along with a clear vision and a foundation for what is possible.
“This incredible distinction has come after years of intentional work from Bentonville’s city leaders, trail builders, maintenance teams, new and experienced riders, and countless others in our great community,” said Tom Walton, an avid mountain biker and co-founder of the Runway Group. “From the outset of our shared vision to transform our city as a mountain biking paradise unique from other destinations, the city government and community leaders provided the support and balanced leadership we needed to help make the dream become a reality.”
Bentonville has approximately 130 miles of singletrack connected to downtown, with access to more than 250 miles of regional trails in a network that sits at the heart of the state’s OZ Trails system.
OZ Trails launched in 2016 to showcase the development of multi-purpose trails in Northwest Arkansas and is often touted as a model for communities looking to expand their trail offerings.
Another factor in the area’s designation as a biking mecca is a robust community partnership between non-governmental organizations dedicated to growing the sport. BikeNWA, Bike Bentonville, Friends of Arkansas Singletrack (FAST), and the Women of OZ are just some of the resources available for locals and tourists alike.
Although places like Moab, Utah and Crested Butte, Colorado may take issue with newcomer Bentonville’s claim as the ‘capital,’ it’s hard to deny Northwest Arkansas’ steady climb to the top of ‘best-of-biking’ lists.
“Over the past decade, our community has built a reputation among mountain biking enthusiasts and athletes as the premier global destination for the sport,” Mayor Stephanie Orman said. “We’re the heart of the trailhead in the Ozarks, and headquarters to the most innovative mountain bike trail designs built anywhere.”