by Rob Potts October 09, 2022

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb”. Greg Child

One of the cool things about living in NWA is that we’ve got amazing places to play, right in town!   People in other urban areas usually have to get out of town, sometimes even hours out of town, to find places like this to recreate. 

One of our favorite places to bike or hike is right in Springdale – Mount Fitzgerald.  It’s got recreation anywhere from toddlers on the playground to advanced mountain bikers, and everywhere in between.  Hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels can have a great time here.  The property has a cool history.  We won’t attempt to write about that.  If you’re interested, you can read on the history of it here.    https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/fitzgerald-station-and-farmstead-8157/

As you approach the property from the south, you’ll see the historic home, built in the 1870’s.   We also won’t give you directions from various areas.  Just input Bayyari Park, Springdale in your phone and it will take you to the trailhead.   The trailhead is at Bayyari Park, named after Fadil H. Bayyari (A Springdale resident, who donated the land for the school), just north of Bayyari Elementary.  

Mount Fitzgerald has restroom facilities, a playground for the small kids and about 13 miles of hiking / biking trails.  The trails are rated as green (beginner), blue (intermediate) and black (expert) for mountain bikers.   There is signage at the entrance showing you where the different types of trails are located, and each trailhead is also marked.  When we talk about the difficulty level here, we’re really talking mountain biking difficulty level.  Plenty of the expert mountain bike trails are great for even young, beginning hikers.  As with any trails that allow both hiking and biking, just pay attention and be courteous to one another, as hikers and bikers move at very different speeds. 

Every time of year here holds different views. In the winter, you can see for many miles around that you can’t always see when the trees are full of leaves. The rock formations and views are really the highlights in the winter.  From what we can tell, at an elevation of about 1,600 feet (200-300 above surrounding areas) you can see for at least 25-30 miles to the west / southwest (the hills in the Siloam Springs area).   The rest of the year, you’ll be in the middle of lots of trees, but still get to enjoy the cool rock formations along the way.  You can always see great views from atop the mountain, looking west. 

 

The trail system is broken up into the southern end and northern end, separate by the road crossing on Dodd Avenue.  On the south end, you’ll arrive at the main parking lot (there is overflow parking on Dodd, closer to Highway 265.   We won’t go into detail on every trail.  We’ll let you discover that.  Plus, you can simply refer to Trail Forks and get details on every trail there, as reviewed by others.   The link is here and it's an amazing resource. https://www.trailforks.com/region/mount-fitzgerald-24352/ 

On this side, you’ll find mostly green trails, with some blues and blacks scattered in (all well marked on the map at the entrance).  Most of these trails – Stage Coach, Heading Home, Broken Spoke and Flow Train are great for beginners.  Wagon Train and Last Frontier add in some more climbing and are a bit more technical.   Bridge is Out, Barking Iron and Gully Wash add in some advanced elements.   All of them are great for hiking, with the best hiking scenery arguably being on Last Frontier and the green sections on the north side of this area.  

 

On the north side of Dodd (watch for cars crossing the road), you’ll experience more traffic both from hikers and bikers as this area holds more for both groups (though we love both sections).   If you want a 2 - 3 mile hike that takes you to the top - We recommend taking the Butterfield trail until you reach Coyote Cave Trail, then to Fitzgerald Trail, which is a loop that circles the top. If you come back down or the short way on Butterfield, it will be about a 2 mile hike. If you want a longer hike down (about 3.5 miles round trip), you can go the long way down Butterfield Trail (left side of map).  For biking, Butterfield gives you a long steady ride to the top, while Coyote Cave is a much steeper route for more advanced riders (though they usually ride down, not up, this section).   The 1857 Spur off this is advanced for bikers, and has some great rock formations for all to see.  Coyote Cave is definitely a great area to stop and look around at the small cave and rock features.  Fitzgerald trail is the trail that loops around the top of the mountain, and where everyone should hike or bike.  If Fitzgerald is your destination on foot or a bike, you need to go around this loop!  It’s rated as blue, but the vast majority of the trail is really a green, with some blue elements.   The east/southeast holds Best Trail Ever, a 3+ mile advanced mountain biking loop.  While good for both, you’ll see a lot more bikers than hikers here. 

The main downside to the area is drainage after a big rain.   Some areas simply don’t drain well, and while they’re easy for hikers to navigate, they do make sections unsuitable for biking.   You can always check out the Facebook Trail Conditions page for Mount Fitzgerald here, before you go.    https://www.facebook.com/groups/195216397862013

Whatever your activity of choice, Mount Fitzgerald is a great place to Go Out and Play!