Trends in Trail Use in Northwest Arkansas
Rising Trail Use
- Rising Trail Use
- Racking up Miles
- Hitting the Trails
- Top Trails
In the last two years alone, the region reported a 10% increase in cycling and 2% increase in pedestrian activity on its multi-use and natural-surface trails.
In 2019, Northwest Arkansas’ trail network saw an average annual volume of 92,167 cyclists and 66,329 pedestrians—a significant jump from 2015. The majority of these gains occurred between 2015 and 2017, when cycling rose 24% and pedestrian use rose 10%. From 2017 to 2019, cycling increased 10% and pedestrian use increased 2%.
Northwest Arkansas is an outdoor recreation destination with 484 total miles of trails, including 322 miles of natural-surface trails and 162 miles of multi-use paths. The Walton Family Foundation has supported 208 miles of natural-surface trails and 72 miles of multi-use paved paths.
While cycling activity is still highest on the weekends, pedestrian activity is now greater earlier in the week. This is a shift from 2017, when pedestrian activity was higher on the weekends.
As expected, cycling was highest on weekends while average weekday volumes hovered near 200. Consistent with the previous two reports, weekend activity climbed quickly in the morning, peaking between 10 and 11 a.m., and gradually came down in the afternoon. On weekdays, activity increased steadily in the morning, lulled in the afternoon, and rose steeply during the evening commute before falling sharply. Since 2015, peak activity time on weekends has shifted from mid-afternoon to mid-morning.
In 2019, pedestrian activity was highest on Mondays, declined the rest of the week and ticked back up on Saturday and Sunday. In a similar pattern to cycling, pedestrian activity peaked slightly earlier on weekends, at 9 a.m., and showed a sharper increase on weekday mornings, with peak use at 6 p.m.
Northwest Arkansas trails continue to report strong activity. Sites with the highest activity levels are directly on the Razorback Regional Greenway and in other densely populated areas while those with the lowest use are farther away from the central Greenway corridor.
Trails at or near popular destinations such as lakes or museums tended to have the highest pedestrian activity, suggesting these types of amenities drive trail use for recreational and transportation purposes.
From 2017-2019, the majority of the region’s multi-use paths saw increases in cycling activity. The site with the highest annual volume was North Bentonville Trail near Northwest A St. with an estimated 205,006 cyclists, followed by Frisco Trail at Maple St. in Fayetteville with 190,701. Several points along Scull Creek Trail in Fayetteville reported high usage, including N. Quality Ln. at 189,480, N. Furtrall Dr. at 185,455 and W. North St. at 183,640. A handful of paths experienced notable decreases in cycling, including three of the four sites on the Crystal Bridges Trail in Bentonville. For pedestrian use, the multi-use paths with the highest annual volume were along the Crystal Bridges Trail, including Cub Circle at 328,909, NE 3rd St. at 328,014 and NE Cub Circle at 283,642.
Like the region’s multi-use paths, the majority of its natural-surface trails saw growth in cycling and pedestrian use since 2017. Trails with the highest annual cycling volume included Seed Tick Shuffle Trail in Bentonville with 27,936, followed by the trailhead at NE A St. and Tiger Blvd. in Bentonville with 14,645 and the trailhead off Blowing Springs Rd., South Trails, in Bella Vista with 12,714. Slaughter Pen Trail fell by approximately 40% and the trail at Park Springs Park fell from the highest cycling volume in 2017 to the second lowest in 2019. For pedestrians, the trails with the highest volumes included the trailhead off Blowing Springs Rd., South Trails, with 28,093, the Mt. Kessler Trail Trailhead in Fayetteville with 23,817, and the trailhead at NE A St. and Tiger Blvd. with 20,430.