IMBA EPIC Ride - Upper Buffalo Headwaters, Arkansas

Upper Buffalo Headwaters


The Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trail offers about 40 miles of singletrack surrounding the highest point in the Ozark Mountains.

The EPIC ride features some of the best experiences available - stunning scenery past steep cliffs, turquoise waterfalls, abundant wildlife and old-growth hardwood forests.


This gem of a Midwest ride laces through the headwaters of the Buffalo National River on a mixture of narrow, hand-built singletrack and machine-cut flow trails.


Start just below Fire Tower Loop Trail on Knuckles Creek Road Trail. Depending on your route, you may be required to carry your bike through multiple water crossings.

Food and drink

The trails at Upper Buffalo are extremely remote. Come prepared with plenty of food and water as well as a big sense of adventure.

More details

From below Fire Tower Loop Trail, pedal up a short climb and then descend through big trees and berms on Fire Tower Loop Trail. The end of this trail transitions directly to Fire Tower Trail. From here continue through a few more banked turns and sections of slabby rocks to a wider trail and corridor. Enjoy a few big drops and berms at the bottom before reaching the intersection with Knucklehead Trail West.

The forest closes back in here as you climb slightly and then descend gradually into the main Knuckles Creek drainage. Be prepared for several minor water crossing throughout this section. And don't forget to have a soak in the waterfall when you get to the bottom!

From the waterfall keep pedaling through the bottom of the valley through a beautiful section of rocky cliffs, out to Knuckles Creek Road Trail. From here, continue on to Azalea Connect Trail. Stay straight on Azalea Falls Trail at intersection 23 and 22 and settle in for one of the best trails in the system. The dense forest eventually gives way to big trees, boulders and cliffs as you climb both gradual and steep sections along the route. The last bit of the trail winds through some house-sized boulders directly above the creek and the falls.

Roll out to the end of Azalea Falls Trail and connect to Sidewinder Trail via Connector: Ancients, Skyline, Zeester. on easy terrain. Sidewinder Trailis a steady climb with a few rocky sections on overgrown trail.

Stay left at the top and get ready for a rowdy descent on Wildcat Trail - expect lots of rocks, roots and tight turns. At the bottom, transition onto Twisted Hickory Trail, a traversing trail that has plenty of tech sections and one difficult but short climb.

Stay left at the end of Twisted Hickory Trail and descend Zeester all the way down to Buffalo Creek Trail. This part of the ride is very adventurous with several water crossings, most of which require wading the creek and carrying your bike.

After the last crossing, pedal onto intersection 8 and connect with Southern Slide Trail. From here the route climbs up from the creek on a quick, grinding climb to the South Bench Loop Trail. Stay right on South Bench Loop Trail and follow the contour through the hardwood forest back to the Azalea Falls Trail and out to Knuckles Creek Road Trail.

Finish the route with an easy pedal back up the road to the beginning of the ride.

some of the information on this page has been sourced from:

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28.283 km / 17.574 mi

Total Distance

886 m / 2,905 ft

Total Ascent

886 m / 2,905 ft

Total Descent

770 m / 2,527 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
Fitness Level: Ultra Fit
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Gravel Road
Mobile Coverage: Excellent
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle
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