It’s amazing how much useless information is available on the internet. This article stands as a good example. However, after a killer cross-country ride in the heat and humidity of Central Arkansas, on a 6′ freeride bike no less, a surfing session seemed in order last night. With the AC blasting and a refreshing Mt. Dew by my side, I found this – a picture of Competitive Cyclist’s own service department member, Don West, on the IMBA website. Check out that extended right leg. Either he’s really roosting that switchback corner or he’s about to fall over. Therein lies the beauty of the still photograph. Much like the difference between real porn and a Victoria’s Secret catalog, still photography is sometimes better than video because it offers room for your imagination to run wild and wonder what happened next, or in the case of my wife’s panty catalog – is that a nipple?
This brings us to Don’s photo. It’s a shot from one of countless switchback turns on the Berryman Trail up in Missouri. The Berryman is another IMBA Epic trail. At 24 miles in length, it’s certainly enough to test the legs. In the summer months, it’s enough to test your will as the bugs, poison ivy and humidity will attempt to destroy your zest for life. Missouri isn’t far from our headquarters here in Little Rock, so we can attest to the magic of the Ozarks in spring and fall. Those are the best times to visit this underused and beautiful trail.
The Berryman trail is located In the Mark Twain National Forest near Potosi, Missouri. The USFS page has easy to follow directions to get you there. What you’ll find is a sinuous singletrack trail that rolls in and out of hardwood covered Ozark valleys. You’ll find good climbs with lots of switchbacks, but I remember them to be all rideable. Of course there are rocks galore. I found a quote the other night from a reviewer of the trail that we thought was fitting, ‘suspension is a must or your forearms will be dust!’ Don’t be turned away, though. The magic of the Berryman lies in the rolling grade benchcuts that make you feel like a kid on a roller coaster. I remember marveling at the way the trail was made. It was one of the first well designed trails I’d ever noticed. It’s a testament that, as a multi-use trail, it withstands the ravages of weather and use/abuse. Otherwise, the trail snakes through typical Ozark greenery, best seen in spring and fall for some extra splashes of color.
The Berryman Trail allows hiker, bikers, and horses. Apparently it is popular with the St. Louis area horse lovers. Like any other multi-use trail, expect to find equestrian spore -- trampled vegetation, hoof print holes in the trail, horse shit, and the odd stray beer can along the way. I don’t remember it being too bad, but it is just part of the package up there. Most riders accept the bad with all the goodness that is the Berryman and come away with a great experience. The best part is that it is long enough and fun enough to be a destination for those of us that live a few hours away. It seems that there are a few more trails in the area that offer additional adventure. The St. Louis Biking website offers up information for all the trails in the area. I’m looking forward to riding the Berryman again. Perhaps I’ll trek up there for the Berryman Epic, an endurance event on October 24th &25th. It will be a 55 mile painfest riding the Berryman Trail, portions of the Ozark Trail, and some fire roads to make the connections. With the Hot Springs 6 Hour, Ouachita Challenge, and Syllamo’s Revenge events here in Arkansas completed for the year, it will be nice to look forward to another badass challenge for the fall. They’ll have a tour on Saturday, and the race on Sunday. It would appear that the organizers are offering up some serious prize money for the race.
The Berryman Trail is another one of those great trails that invokes recollections of long hard weekends that end in tired legs and good stories. I’ll get back there someday, maybe this fall. Right now, I’ll have to go ask Don about that photo. I’m sure that there is a good story there somewhere.