As most Ozarkers know, the once sleepy corner of northwest Arkansas is now a daytrip and weekend destination not just for floating the scenic Buffalo River, but visiting Crystal Bridges Museum, shopping, dining, concerts, and shredding even the gnarliest of the region’s extensive mountain biking trails.
Kim Davis, a senior advisor for the Walton Family Foundation based in Bentonville, Arkansas, explained the years-long process it took to develop the 40-mile Razorback Greenway – along with 100 miles of additional trails – into one of the nation’s leading biking destinations.
The Walton Family Foundation was a catalyst in developing the system, which intentionally routes through smaller communities to create regional economic development. The trail system has spurred many secondary markets to support cyclists, from bike shops to restaurants. The process encourages deep conversations with municipalities across the system, Davis said. The goal is to figure out both the “through lines” that connect communities and honor the individual attributes of each place.
“When people ask me about northwest Arkansas, I immediately go town by town,” Davis said. “There are regional wayfinding signs, but logos are a little different based on the city to make sure they maintain who they are in the process. Maintaining that ‘who’ is critical to the process.”