Nestled in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest just two hours north of Competitive Cyclist, are 38 miles of pristine singletrack, the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail System. The name pays tribute to a Creek Indian who made his home in the area around the Sylamore Creek in the 1800’s. The construction of the trail system built largely on grant money is currently nearing the completion of Phase 2. Completed, the trails will boast greater than 85 miles of trail -- largely without encountering any private property.
On May 7, 2005, Syllamo Mountain Bike Trails played host to Red Bull’s regional qualifier for their Divide and Conquer race held in June in Durango, Colorado. Local Brad Fierke gobbled up the 38 miles of Syllamo in 3:33, nearly 17 minutes faster than his nearest competitor.
Syllamo currently consists of four loops: White River Bluff Loop, Bald Scrappy Loop, Scrappy Mountain Loop and the yet unnamed ‘Yellow Loop’.
The White River Bluff Loop is the shortest of the four, clocking 4.4 miles start to finish. While it can be ridden in either direction, we find it best to attack it counter-clock wise, rewarding riders with a stunning view of the White River valley and the community of Sylamore from atop the bluffs. The trail meanders through the forest highlighted by gradual staircase-like climbs and technical ‘rock gardens’ on and around the bluff. These rock gardens can catch even the more experienced riders by surprise, especially if there’s been a recent rain.
The Bald Scrappy Loop is the fastest of the four despite finishing with about a mile of short, steep technical climbs. This loop is likely the kindest to those not possessing the finest technical skills -- the final climbs can easily be diverted as the trail parallels a section of the forest service road leading back to the White River Bluff trailhead.
The adage, ‘hard work reaps rewards’, sums up the 12 mile Scrappy Mountain Loop quite nicely, as technical challenges -- albeit climbs, obstacles or creek crossings -- are often rewarded with quick and technical descents.
The near completed ‘Yellow Loop’ is Phase II of the trail system. The longest of the four at 15 miles+ is easily our favorite, as it brilliantly combines the best of the other loops -- majestic views, technical challenges, blazing descents, and sustained climbs. One may gain access to the ‘Yellow Loop’ at the Scrappy Mountain Trailhead located about 3.8 miles up Green Mountain Road off Highway 5.
While all the trails are extremely well marked, the ‘Yellow Loop’ still requires a bit of intuition as it is not yet 100% marked. Nor does a printed map exist like the trails of Phase I. (ed. 10/20/06 – Phase II map has been added) A downloadable PDF map of the Phase I and II trails can be found online here.
The Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail system has been named as one of IMBA’s Epic Rides for 2005. It requires only a $3 per vehicle use fee -- as the final three phases are yet to be funded, please be sure to ante up!