13.5 Miles Loop System 6.7 Total Climbing Miles  1,814' Max 7.5% Avg Grade
50.25 Climb Index 30% Singletrack 6.6 Total Descending Miles 1,106' Min 31.1% Max Grade

Overview: This is a shared use trail but it is still a really nice trail to ride on. From Shady Lake to Athens Big Fork the trail is old road for about 3 miles and then its double track trail to Athens Big Fork Trail. The road and the trail are not too difficult and makes for a pretty nice ride. No technical spots, no hard climbs and very scenic as it follows the Little Missouri River. The Viles Branch trail actually goes past Athens Big Fork Trail all the way over to Hwy 369. If you continue on toward Hwy 369 you will encounter some big crossings of the Little Missouri River as well as some really scenic areas around Winding Stairs. Most of the trail heading toward Hwy 369 is not really all that bad. There are a few technical areas around the Winding Stairs area that you may have to get off and walk but they are only about 10 yards in length. There are no big climbs on this section of the trail. If you decide to do the loop, you will hang a left at the Viles Branch and Athens Big Fork junction and head north on Athens Big Fork. The trail on this section is a lot more demanding than any other parts of this trail. You will be climbing a very long and very steep hill going up the side of Brush Heap Mountain. The trail through this section is hard packed and loose rock, not really any technical stuff. Once over the top there is a really fun downhill and then some pretty smooth single track. The trail will eventually drop you off on Forest Road 106. On 106 you will need to hang a left and follow this all the way to the junction of Forest Road 38. Follow 38 all the way back to Shady Lake. The road going back is all dirt road, there will be some fairly mild climbing on the way back with the biggest climb coming just as you approach the junction of 38, after that it is all a fast downhill ride back to the lake. This trail is part of the Eagle Rock Loop and Brush Heap Loop. From the Viles Branch Trail you can access Athens Big Fork which in turn has access to Little Missouri Trail. These trails can all be accessed from the Albert Pike Recreation Area. Check out the Eagle Rock Loop, Brush Heap Loop, Little Missouri Trail and Athens Big Fork Trail for more information.

Recommended Route: From Shady Lake do the loop in a counter clockwise direction. There are signs to direct you to the trail. Optionally you can do the Shady Lake Trail and then head down Viles Branch, which makes for a nice ride.

Rating: The section between Shady Lake and Hwy 369 would be good for most riders. There are a few tricky spots along the trail but they are not long. The section between 502 and 106 would be for riders with good cardio as the climbs are very demanding. Overall it’s a nice trail and with all the other trails in the area that connect to it makes for a wonderful weekend of riding and for an added bonus you can camp at Shady Lake Area.

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Minimum Skill Level











Trail City Length Skill
Athens Big Fork Glenwood 9.5 miles Int
Bear Creek ATV Glenwood 31 miles N/A
Big Brushy Complex Mena 15.5 miles Int
Brush Heap Loop Glenwood 16.5 miles Int
Charlton Mount Ida 4 miles Beg
Eagle Rock Loop Glenwood 24 miles Int
Earthquake Ridge Mena 6 miles Int
Fourche Mountain Mena 26 miles Int
Lake Ouachita Vista Mount Ida 36.5 miles Int
Little Missouri Glenwood 16 miles Int
Ouachita Trail Mena 104 miles Int
Rich Mountain Mena 8 miles Int
Shady Lake Mena 3.5 miles Int
Wolf Pen Gap Mena 42 miles Beg
Womble Mount Ida 35 miles Int

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Glenwood, AR

Mostly Cloudy


MAX 28°F, MIN 21°F
1.6km/h West



MAX 37°F

MIN 23°F


MAX 53°F

MIN 35°F


MAX 64°F

MIN 39°F

Arkansas Trail Rules

Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail.

Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.

Yield Appropriately: Riders yeild to foot and horse traffic. Riders traveling downhill should yeild to ones headed uphill, unless signed for oneway or downhill traffic only.

Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you.

Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.