Arkansas Highway 16 | Favorite walk
For motorcyclists, Arkansas Highway 16 is one of the best highways in the Ozarks that has the added benefit of being one of the least used highways in the state. It is best known to local cyclists and some knowledgeable visitors, but is overlooked by most travelers as it leads nowhere in particular.
Another reason it’s largely unknown is that it doesn’t have a cool nickname like the “Pig Trail” section of Arkansas Highway 23. So I propose that the 160 mile stretch from Fayetteville to Clinton be now known as the “Ozarks Scenic Highlands Skyway”. .”
Scan the QR code above or click here to see the route on REVER
Arkansas Highway 16: “Your Last Choice Route”… By Car At Least
Highway 16 begins in the northeastern part of Arkansas at the Oklahoma border and runs southeast about two-thirds the width of the state. From Fayetteville to Greers Ferry, it meanders from small town to small town through small communities with unique names like Swain, Nail, Deer, Lurton, Witts Springs and my favorite, Ben Hur.
If you were traveling by car from Fayetteville to Greers Ferry, Highway 16 would be your last route of choice. This is exactly what makes it fantastic for cyclists. From Fayetteville, the drive east on Highway 16 out of town is fairly pedestrian, but once you pass Elkins, the road parallels the 710-mile Upper White River.
The highway becomes more twisty as it climbs into the Ozark highlands. At Brashears, Hwy 16 intersects the Pig Trail Scenic Byway section of Hwy 23 for about 4 miles to Hawkins Hollow and becomes very winding.
A look at the Arkansas State Highway map reveals that the highway has more than enough twisty lines to delight the sporty cyclist. And it has more than enough breathtakingly beautiful scenery to delight the cruising rider.
Just under 10 miles later in Boston, Highway 16 bursts over the ridge tops and stays up there. The highway then defines what I call the “Ozarks Divide”. Streams and rivers on the south side of the highway drain into the Arkansas River while those on the north side drain into the White River. The result of being on the ridges of Highway 16 is that you often have spectacular views and views from both sides of the road at the same time – hence my suggestion to call it Ozarks Scenic Highlands Skyway.
Arkansas Highway 16: Watch Deer… and Ben Hur?
The 161-mile trip from Fayetteville to Clinton takes up to four hours, depending on how many stops you make. But if you don’t stop along the way, you’ll miss out on some interesting experiences with the people of these unique places with unique names.
For example, there’s a little place on Highway 16 called Fallsville. At least I love the town for the irony of its name as a stop on a premier motorcycling route, given that it has a four-letter word for bikers if there ever is one had a. Fallsville is located at the western junction of Arkansas Highway 16 and Highway 21, and despite its odd name, it’s a great place to take a break. Besides the beautiful roads, it’s places like Fallsville that make the Ozarks wonderful for cyclists looking to experience the local culture.
If you’re inclined to hike (not a good idea in July or August), you can drive to Glory Hole Falls, 5.7 miles northeast of Fallsville on Hwy 16 /21. It’s beautiful, especially when the water is flowing fast. The hike is one mile each way, downhill to the falls and uphill on the way back.
Twenty miles east of Fallsville (and about 11 miles beyond where Highway 16 splits from Highway 21) is a real metropolis compared to Fallsville. The town of Deer has a convenience store and a public school whose mascot is aptly named the Antlers. Only in the Ozarks!
A few miles past Deer, Highway 16 joins Arkansas Highway 7 southbound, where the roads occupy the same right-of-way and eventually join Arkansas Highway 123. This trio of Arkansas’ exceptional highways – 7, 16 and 123 – are all dynamite roads. Highway 7 is revered as “Scenic 7”. Route 123, like Route 16, is a lesser-known route that should be on every cyclist’s bucket list.
The roads split at Sand Gap – formerly Grand Gap and Pelsor – where you’ll find the old Hankins Country Store. During peak riding season, hang around a bit and you’re bound to run into riders from all over the country.
As much as I love Deer, my favorite place name along the way has to be the point on the map called Ben Hur, which has no store or business. It’s just a small community with a big name. According to an Arkansas Times article, the town was named after actor Charlton Heston, likely a nod to his 1959 film of the same name. In Heston’s twilight years, he reportedly asked the town fathers to consider renaming him “Cold Dead Hand”, but to no avail.
There are dirt roads winding through the area on either side of Highway 16. One of my favorite routes is the Hurricane Wilderness Ramble, which begins in Deer. These are wonderful roads for ADV pilots. But no matter what you ride, you’ll enjoy riding this winding Ozarks Scenic Highlands Skyway.