Easy cycling, hikes on hospital trails

It’s a cinch to enjoy a smooth bike ride along the Razorback Greenway and an easy off-road ATV ride on the same trip.

The Mercy Heritage Trails trails between the Razorback Greenway and Mercy Hospital in Rogers may not be on the radar screen of all cyclists. They are nestled along a wooded hill at the start of the Greenway Mercy Trail, just south of the hospital.

The easy-to-ride trails are perfect for wide-eyed kids who see a brand new mountain bike shining next to the tree on Christmas morning. The Mercy Trails are ideal for a first attempt at mountain biking, a brisk ride over lunch, or a combination of greenway and mountain biking.

Many cyclists experience one of the trail’s two short loops. It’s the oval of land that surrounds a meadow north of the Hammock meeting place in Mercy Trailhead. This 0.47 mile path, called the Lantern Loop, is flat with several top-to-bottom features that make it a fun off-road ride.

The surface is smooth like a baby’s bald head and a great little curl for adults who go for a ride with the kids. It’s only a few pedal strokes from the hard-surfaced Razorback Greenway. It’s wide open with no trees near the trail.

What isn’t so obvious is the 1.25 mile loop hidden in the woods west of Lantern Loop. This soft-surfaced Catherine’s Crossing trail begins a short walk west of the Mercy Trailhead Hammock meeting place.

It’s easy to sing “Joy to the World” on a loop ride. There’s not much to blow off the mostly flat ride with fun highs and lows and no leg-burning climbs.

A counterclockwise turn around the loop starts on a flat trail for a good warm up before hitting some of the rollers up and down along the way. The trail takes cyclists north before a gradual ascent and abrupt U-turn. After the sharp turn, the path heads south as the hospital appears through the trees.

Look down as you ride and the lower part of the trail you just cycled is easily visible below. Keep your eyes on the path as it is quite a steep incline from the edge.

The loop ends with a fun descent on a few switchbacks to the start of the loop. One lap deserves another and riders can go around the loop until completely stunned.

I thoroughly enjoy our Sunday rides on the Green Lane with our little Madison County Tour bike group. Sometimes, however, I am not able to make it all the way. Football is getting involved. On those days I’ll load up the mountain bike and take a ride or three on the Mercy trails and cycle the green lane a bit for my Sunday bike repair.

Short or long, a good bike ride can whet your appetite. There are all kinds of places to eat and have a coffee near the Mercy Heritage Trails. A cup of java or hot chocolate is good on a cold winter day.

Flip Putthoff can be contacted at [email protected]

Mercy trails are rated green for easy cycling and hiking. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / Flip Putthoff)

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