An Arkansas Adventure of Short Duration

BMW riders are always looking for the next 'adventure' ride and recently, Steve and I found it as close as the state next door. We trailered Steve's KTM 690 Enduro and my BMW G450X to a little outpost along US 71 just a few miles north of DeQueen called Wickes, the center of the Cossatot River universe.

The Cossatot River, for those among us who are not 'floaters,' is one of those fabled cool, meandering waterways just perfect for a dip on a hot summer day. The first part of the river near Mena is perfect for inner tubing...but farther down, it flows over jagged bedrock that gives the river the moniker "the most challenging whitewater rafting float" in the state. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agrees, calling it "the most difficult whitewater stream in the state of Arkansas." Maybe that's why Native Americans first named it Cossatot, or "skull crusher." Steve and I opted out of the skull crushing. We were there to stick to dry ground and explore the hundreds of miles of logging and fire roads that cris-cross the backwoods. Free maps provided at the amazingly beautiful (do not miss this center if you travel this way. You will want to pull up a bed and live here) visitor center on Highway 278 proved only marginally useful once off main roads. However, the nice lady at the visitor center did give us dead-on directions to Wickes' very own "White House", one of those fabulous small town restaurants that cooks everything well and throws in a side of cobbler and friendliness, to boot.

After licking the cobbler plate, we set off to find forest adventure...and did, in the form of "Weyco Road," which ran north, south, east and west but never contiguously. When I complained to Steve that the mapmakers were too stupid to come up with more than one road name, he explained---slowly---that "Weyco" stood for Weyerhauser Company. Right. I knew that.
Steve searching for "Weyco Road." It's everywhere, it's everywhere!

Once we determined our route, we took off on fire roads that were gravel with some hard-packed dirt. Most were in good shape and consisted of switchbacks, long straightaways, sweeping turns, and a couple of creek fordings. The fire and logging roads are open to all motorized vehicles so you don't want to wander into the oncoming lane swinging around a blind curve, but during 5 hours of riding, we saw only 6 other vehicles. On a weekend day, the census would likely be higher. Technically, traveling offroad into the forest is not allowed, but we spotted some ATV-types doing just that. It just wasn't worth it to us, with all the great legal places to ride.

Liz at one of the Cossatot bridge crossings on the way to Weyco Road.

In addition to pretty forest and nice roads, there is an abundance of wildlife, some of which will reach out and try to touch you. Steve came very close to having the greatest motorcycling story of his life when we scared a buzzard and it nearly puked on him. (They'll do that, you know, when frightened.) Steve spotted what appeared to be a huge black wolf. We both watched as a hawk swooped down and snagged a field critter, we flushed a quail, and I swear I saw a Blue Tanager, normally only seen in South America. Hmmm. The full day of adventure began at about 7:30 a.m. and ended at about 7:30 p.m. with us taking a leisurely pace up and back. Though we had dirt bikes, these are great roads for BMW's wide stable of dual sports (the GS series, especially) with knobbies. Have some fun and plan a short adventure long on memories at the Cossatot!

No comments:

Post a Comment