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Montgomery County trails receive national attention

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ouachita challenge 1Arkansas is the Natural State, and few areas within her borders can boast more year-around natural beauty than Montgomery County. Visitors travel here to enjoy her clear lakes and an abundance of free-flowing streams and rivers that invite fishing, backpacking, day-hiking and canoeing.

Now, an additional national drawing card has been added to Montgomery County’s already full hand. Last year the LOViT’s (Lake Ouachita Vista Trail) was designated as an Epic Trail, by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) based on extensive criteria including beauty and variety of terrain through which the trail passes.

According to published literature, the association has used the Epic designation for more than a decade. Trails earning the designation must be “demanding, singletrack adventures in a natural setting.” The current Epics celebrate true backcountry riding experiences that are technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length. All of theses Epics offer amazing opportunities to interact with the natural world. Existing Epics that meet this criteria will retain Epic status, the literature continued.

Singletracks, a national magazine devoted to mountain bike riding throughout the United States, has identified Montgomery County among the Top 10 Weekend Mountain Bike Destinations in North America. Mount Ida is listed as number two on that prestigious list based on the variety of terrain, but additionally due to its relatively close proximity to cities of 100,000 or greater.

According to Singletrack, the local area actually ranks in the top 50 destinations at number 38.

The magazine noted that the local area has at least 9 trails with a total span of 264 miles. Montgomery County and surrounding area draws mountain bike tourism from all over the region, particularly from the Little Rock, Tulsa, Dallas, Kansas City and Houston areas.

Robert Cavanaugh, a local trail bike enthusiast, said, “This validates what the work on building and maintaining our hiking and biking trails has done for the county and its impact on tourism.”

Cavanaugh added, “The publicity we received in Singletracks will continue to have an economic impact in the future. More and more people are becoming familiar with the system of trails we have in the area.

They come and ride one or several of our trails and return to their homes and spread the word about the beauty. They return and often bring others with them,” he said.

As reinforcement of his comments, Cavanaugh said he was contacted this past weekend by a trail ride organizer from near Alexandria, LA, who is bring a dozen mountain bikers to the area due to the recent Epic Trail designation.