PHOTO COURTESY OF PROGRESSIVE TRAIL DESIGN – www.progressivetraildesign.com
First, thank you to the City of Rogers for seeing a future in the lake! A restoration project has been a long time coming to this beautiful piece of land located just east of historic downtown Rogers. As many readers know, there is a gravel based road that circumnavigates the lake, traveling counter-clockwise one way. Soon this road will be closed to motorized vehicles, so says the city. The closing of this road will only lead to safer conditions for fishermen, walkers, joggers, and of course cyclists in my opinion. The city has many plans for Lake Atalanta, adding several areas for multiple riding disciplines, lake users and nature lovers. The restoration and revitalization stages of the lake are moving fast and with lots of support.
Also traveling around Lake Atalanta is the first full phase of the mountain bike trail system. The trails not yet named, but are easy to navigate during the day. Fortunately, traveling clockwise or counter-clockwise you will find the trail flows well with plenty of ups and downs. This section of trail has plenty of bench cuts with a few sections of large rocks roll over. On the east side of the lake, expect some slicker areas after rain showers, especially in the hollows. Don’t feel afraid to walk across the slick rocks, they can be very slippery! The north end of the lake trail has a few short climbs to the top of the lake’s property line, this area is great as the trail builders included some high banked turns and rhythm sections any mountain biker will find exciting. Views on the lake’s east shore, the height of trail, are fantastic. A bald eagle might be spotted or other birds of the popular to the area, deer are always in attendance around the lake as well.
Across Walnut ST, just south of the lake, is Clark Pavilion. You will find one trail entrance located to the west of the parking area and one just across the grassy meadow to the east of the pavilion. The trail to the west is partially closed at the time this was typed. But it is one of the more challenging trails due to the skinny rock garden bench cuts and rooted upper section. It is a loop so you can’t veer off the trail until the turning point. You will find a short off shoot trail that will guide you to close to the mouth of Frisco Springs. The off shoot will also connect to some completed trails, which are currently closed as well. This area of trails dives in and out of the tree line close to the future pump track and downhill run. Climbing is limited to just a few short turns up hill with some great twisty trail through the trees. Back at the main trail, staying right you will make a sharp high banked right hand turn pointing the cyclist back to Clark Pavilion. This section is cross several solid rocks, roots and one awesome bridge. It ends with some more high banked turns at the pavilion.
If you find yourself heading across the meadow toward the east you can take the single track just after the creek crossing. I would recommend staying to the right once you are at the trail split. It’s a bit of climbing but well worth the reward as the trail swoops along the back side of the old Girl Scout camp house. Once back at the split, stay left and enjoy the trees. You’ll notice the construction of the greenway trail system just to your left and maybe a deer or two. Look up but don’t go up! Stay left at the split all the down to the old Fleming house. The trail will turn up and to the right and then left for some switch backs all the way to the top. You should be on the southwestern side of the property. Climb until you reach the fields at the top, looking to the west you might see the lights of Taco Bell’s sign depending on the time of day and year. For a point of reference, the fields to your left are where the pump track, dog park, and downhill run are located. The next section of trails are a blast, fast flowing single track empty into bench cut trail. Stay to the left if you want to go back to the Clark Pavilion via some rock gardens and a cool little rocky descent. Hang a right at the end of the berms if you want to hit the flatter trails back to the pavilion.
There are some trails located to northeast side of the Fleming house, which at the time this article was written they were closed due to greenway trail construction. But once they are open you will be able to access the system using the large bridge located in front of the old house. The trail travels north, up and down with very good rhythm and some rocks thrown in to keep you on your toes err brakes. I found these trails to flow best if you stay left all the way to the end and then start climbing up. The climb is not difficult but it does have a turn or two. Stay on the upper trails and enjoy a beautiful hand built bridge and single track bench cut trails. There are several nice rock formations you will fly by so slow down a bit to enjoy the splendor of Mother Nature. This trail system has some great technical turns so keep an eye out for the most important ones that make their way down and back toward your original starting pointing. Once you are back, you can huff it down the (future) greenway, hit the lower western trails, or head up on the hill to upper trails and back to the Clark Pavilion.
The trails at Lake Atalanta are a great asset to the region and are already putting Rogers on the map for mountain biking destinations. A big thank you to the city for seeing a need to support this fantastic recreational sport, thank you to Progressive Trail Designs for the delicate work of mapping and building the trails and thank you to future volunteers that will maintain the system for years to come.