How to Plan a Bike Route

How to Plan a Bike Route

  1.  What kind of surface do I want to ride on? Paved trail/sidewalk, open road, gravel/country/forest road, or mountain bike singletrack.
  2. How far do I want to ride or how long do I want to ride? Paved surfaces are fastest, dirt/gravel roads can be 10-40% slower, and singletrack is at best 50% slower than pavement.
  3. How far will I drive to get to my trailhead? Paved bike trails will be the most accessible, low-traffic asphalt will be outside of the city center or just finding the right timing, gravel roads will be a little further out of town or way out in a National Forest, and singletrack can be pretty much anywhere and everywhere in NWA.
  4. Am I prepared for the unexpected? A basic first aid kit and a flat tire repair kit are key gear for ANY bike ride. But the further you get from town or your trailhead the more comprehensive your repair kit and mechanic skills need to be. Oh, and always bring plenty of water!

Paved Trail resources:

  • Google Maps app - switch to bike mode after selecting a destination and asking for “Directions"

How to use google maps for a bike ride

  • Gravel Road resources:
  • - helpful in finding a good starting point to get on a gravel road
  • RidewithGPS app - connect with a community of fellow riders and share/plan road and gravel routes, yearly or monthly membership required to access GPS Navigation features of the app using your phone.
  • Strava app - free account for tracking your rides, but a paid Premium account lets you share courses and use your phone to Navigate.
  • Garmin Connect app/web login - pair your phone with a Garmin navigation computer to load courses found near you on the app, or create a new course in an instant with the app.
  • Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer - old school paper maps for route planning. Skinny roads with CR or FR in the name are usually not paved.
  • Looking for a custom route? Check out our recap of an Ozark Waterfall Bikepacking Tour

Singletrack resources:

  • MTBproject app - great for route finding whilst on the trail and also looking ahead for new trails or scouting new areas to ride across the US. Sponsored by IMBA
  • Trailforks app - same as above, more integrated internationally but not an inclusive of local trails across the US. Requires a subscription to access maps for multiple areas and unlock all features on the app, full-map availability on a web browser.
  • Strava app - same as with gravel routes
  • RidewithGPS app - same story, different trail
  • - find a list of local MTB trails and download/print PDF maps

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