Bella Vista in the Northwest Arkansas Ozarks is an outdoor epicenter where golfing and mountain biking are intertwined – golf course fairways intersect with rolling ribbons of singletrack trails. Golfers in khakis and collared shirts traverse fairways in power carts and give right-of-way to bikers pedaling through in spandex, wrap-around shades, and helmets. Golf and mountain biking – An odd pairing? Actually, the terrain is ideally suited for par fives or trail systems like Little Sugar and the Back 40 that churn up and around the signature mossy slate and rock ledges. Both sports take advantage of the elevation change, contributing to the unique flavor of pedaling bikes or swinging clubs. Flat and boring – not in Bella Vista.
Most days of our April visit, we celebrated an occasional par on greens like Kingswood that flanked signature trails like Danger Will Robinson. There are 99 holes to shoot at and 100 + miles of trail to ride. So my tip is to golf nine in the morning, grab a sandwich, then roll out for some afternoon trail time. It’s the perfect two-a-day that will lead to the happiest of hours and the always colorful OZ sunsets.
Golf Bella Vista
We walked across the street from our rental house to check in for a round at the Kingswood Golf Course. The course flanks the rock ledges, the Sugar Creek, and the signature Sugar Bridge that connects Little Sugar and the Back 40 Trail systems.
We played a round at Dogwood adjacent to the Metfield Fitness Center and discovered a new trail and jump line on our drive to the Pro shop; Rago runs parallel to the Euston Road entrance. We found our way back later to ride Mulligan and session Rago’s layered rocky drops and features.
Scotsdale’s picturesque links lured my foursome for another spirited round. It’s equal parts beauty and challenge, so I didn’t mind donating a few balls to the creeks and water hazards. The clubhouse is perched above the finishing holes, providing a panoramic view of the course’s layout.
We discovered the Highlands Golf Course is the longest and most challenging on the BV roster. This is your jam if you are a straight shooter and adept at hitting off uneven lies. Post-round, our scores improved at the Highlands Pub & Grill, which served tasty pizzas and antipasto salads while we perched on the deck overlooking the fountain and # 9 green. We gawked at the sunset stunner with the brightest slices of orange my eyes have seen to date.
The Bella Vista Country Club and BV Bar & Grill were our crowd-fave watering hole and hunger control plan. We demolished spicy wing platters and sipped Bentonville Brewing’s, Trailhead Lager. We sat in the bar by the expansive windows, enjoying views of the country club’s finishing holes. Another restaurant for the foodie agenda LakePoint Restaurant & Tasting Room. The Easter brunch with beef, lamb, and shrimp paired nicely with the expansive Loch Lomond waterfront views.
Branchwood Disc Golf
I got to try a toss on a new sport. Steve and Kim introduced Josh and me to a quick lesson on using the driver, putting discs, and several tossing methods. It is NOT all in the wrist, and throwing a frisbee as a youth does not grant any mastery in this sport; technique and strategy are paramount to putting the disc in the wire basket. We set out before sunset and attempted to conquer Branchwood’s course. Like regular golf, there are many duffs, water shots, and occasional pars. One of my favorite quotes is: It’s better to be lucky than good. Applicable on the last hole as my disc glanced off an oak trunk and shot into the fairway for an unobstructed next throw. Disc golf, stay tuned. We’ll be back for more.
Bike The Ledges, Tunnel Vision, and Back 40
We spent nine days pairing golf and biking while admiring a gazillion redbud trees and spring flowers in bloom. The new spread of green foliage and the warmth of Spring contributed to a delightful vibe no matter the activity. In BV, keep the cars in the garage, not the bikes, and we rolled right across the street to Tunnel Vision, which connected us to all sorts of loops and trail varieties. The connectivity and access to the OZ trails network are unmatched.
Try this 12 – 15-mile loop: Start on Tunnel Vision at the Kingsdale Complex, pedal to Danger Will Robinson (choose the lower trail along the river if you prefer tame to expert), then cross Little Sugar Bridge to Back 40, pedal to Blowing Springs then under HWY 71 back home to the CycloTherapy House. You’ll also pass the new Phat Tire Bike Shop and Trailside Coffee if you need gear or caffeine-laden fuel.
We also conquered The Ledges, well…. most of it anyway. (there’s a hiker in every biker). Bella Vista trails serve up super chill to expert. I kept a foot on the ground on a few particularly narrow butt-puckering sections to steady my progress on this rocky and technical trail. My nerves calmed as we finished the loop and returned via Pinyon to the Lake Ann Trailhead for a PBJ lunch with stellar lake views.
PS – Interested in an e-bike experience, see this previous blog.
Bella Vista and the Razorback Greenway
Bella Vista connects via the Razorback Greenway to Bentonville, Springdale, and it continues another 30 miles to Fayetteville, home to the University and Razorback nation. For those who prefer to roll on pavement instead of dirt, hop on the Greenway, roadie or cruiser and pedal a few miles south to Bentonville’s downtown, or Coler Preserve serves up more trails and downhill jump lines. We took advantage of both trail and Greenway to land at Blowing Springs’ idyllic park and Gear Garden for bike breaks, water refills, and snacks overlooking more waterfalls. Note: The Gear Garden’s grand opening is April 21- 23.
We’re already planning a return visit this summer with our Pioneer Cups ready for a frothy and cold Trailhead Lager, the perfect finish to a Bella Vista two-sport day.