Dual Sport Riding in Arkansas
By: Zoie Clift, Travel Editor
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Part of the allure of riding motorcycles is the adventure found on the open road. On a dual sport motorcycle, suitable for both on-road and off-road riding, motorcyclists can also venture off paved roads and highways to explore the hinterland like dirt tracks, road roads. gravel and jeep trails.
“For every great view on the freeway, there are about a hundred nearby on dirt roads,” says Scott Smith, an Arkansas-based dual sport driver.
Smith, vice president of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, started dual sport biking about six years ago. He bought a Honda XR650L for $ 4,500, put on safety gear and a Corbin seat, and has driven nearly 30,000 miles since.
Smith says dual sport driving offers a different experience from highway driving. “We ride legal off-road motorcycles for the road, but we do our best to stay off paved surfaces,” he says. “A bit like slab riders, we sometimes ride with our friends, but mostly alone, enjoying the solitude and soaking up nature.”
According to Smith, what sets Arkansas as a mixed sport riding destination apart is the contrasting topography, the many routes through thousands of miles of back roads and the state’s national forests. He says rivers and streams also provide views that can’t be seen from paved highways.
Smith adds that Arkansas is centrally located and attracts riders looking for the state’s hilly and mountainous roads. “Our people are friendly too; the traveler loves it.
His favorite route in the state is from Turpentine Creek to Oakk, via Pettigrew or Red Star. Oark was made “famous biker” by Sam Correro, creator of the Trans-America Trail (TAT), a nearly 5,000 mile dual-sport motorcycle route across the United States. to what Correro reported about Oark’s general store. “The reason I like this route is that there is no defined route between the two locations, I create a new route every time I take the trip. Our back roads are a huge web of possibilities.
Smith traveled the western half of the TAT through Arkansas. “Each time, I want to continue to Coos Bay, Oregon, but reality takes me back and I go to work the next day dreaming of the ride.”
The TAT begins in Tennessee and travels west across the United States to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. “You travel around America and you see the heart of America like you can’t see it from the freeway,” Sam Correro shares of the epic trail. “And you stop at all the mom and pop hotels and restaurants… and eat the local food.”
As for the story behind the road, Correro, who is based in Mississippi, was looking for places to ride, so he started riding gravel and dirt roads on weekends and connecting the roads together. Very quickly, he had a large loop mapped out in the Mississippi. He wanted to go further – and Arkansas was the next state he took on.
Correro contacted the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department and purchased county maps that showed the state’s gravel and dirt roads. He started to ride and explore the terrain. “My first few days in Arkansas were good and I was like, well, I’m going to keep going,” he shares. “And I made my way through the Arkansas Ozarks and all the way to the Oklahoma state border.”
“You are on tour in America and you see the heart of America as if it cannot be seen from the freeway”
And then it continued, finally reaching the Oregon coast. It took him 12 years of weekends and vacations to map the entire TAT. “It was a labor of love, that’s what it was,” he says.
After he finished mapping the trail, he created a website with detailed information such as rider reports, gasoline stops, restaurants, accommodations, places to cross rivers and highways. , and where to access maps and graphics. Now, dual sport cyclists from across the country and around the world are coming to the trails. Correro explains that the trip between Clinton, Arkansas and Bartlesville, Oklahoma on the TAT is one of his two favorite days of riding.
Smith adds: “The sporty two-speed driving offers images and experiences that you cannot find on the [paved] road, all in the almost total absence of cars and trucks. We respect our backwoods owners and love our mountains. Minimalism is practiced while at the same time you have to be able to fix your bike in the middle of nowhere. If you have chosen to get involved [in the sport] be safe, ride your skills and greet the locals.
For more information on the Trans-American Trail, visit transamtrail.com.
In addition, Scott Smith hosts the Arkansas 500 Dual Sport Hike every year to benefit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. This multi-day event covers 500 miles of back roads in Arkansas. For more details, visit arkansas500.com.
Another resource that Smith shares – is how he met other people interested in this activity. For first-person accounts and tips, visit the Adventure Rider Motorcycle forum at advrider.com.
More travel information about Arkansas can be found at www.Arkansas.com