Travelers explore the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway in spring to marvel at flowering dogwood trees and forests of bright green.
On the last days of winter, we visited for the waterfalls.
Bicycles were our preferred mode of travel along this two-lane highway, which runs beside the swift and free-flowing Mulberry River in Franklin and Johnson counties. The 28-mile ride from Redding river access to the little town of Oark is a favorite during any season of the year.
Normally we'd bike this byway in April when the dogwoods are popping and redbud trees are in bloom. Two days of rain in early March promised to wake up waterfalls all along the curvy route. Early on a sunny Sunday in March, we were off to the scenic byway with bicycles secured in a rack above the rear bumper.
If driving from the north, the trip also takes in the Pig Trail Scenic Byway along Arkansas 23. The highway is named for folks taking the highway on their way to Fayetteville for Razorbacks sporting events, particularly football.
If traveling south on the Pig Trail, turn left at Arkansas 215, which is the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway. From here, Redding access and parking is three miles east along Arkansas 215.
The warm, clear morning felt divine as we biked east along the asphalt. In short order, we were rolling past waterfalls by the dozens. These were mostly small pour-offs tumbling down hillsides and from the lips of cliffs beside the roadway.
On some of the route, sheer rock bluffs cradle one side of the highway while the Mulberry churns and roars on the other. At some spots, the river is so close any rider taking a tumble could end up swimming. Heading toward Oark, travel is upstream beside the Mulberry River, so there is easy, gradual climbing.
Riding past High Bank river access, we were closing in on the granddaddy of the byway's waterfalls, High Bank Twin Falls. It's a must-see for byway explorers.
This cascade of side by side torrents tumbles 80 feet over the lip of a sheer golden colored cliff. To see it, park at High Bank river access and walk a short way east along the highway and cross a small bridge over a creek. There's a dirt trail on the left. Follow it about 100 yards to the waterfall.
It's an easy hike along a pretty stream and a smaller waterfall on the right. The footing is a bit dicey the last 30 yards so proceed with care.
Back on the bikes, we enjoyed the rest of the ride to Oark and lunch at the legendary Oark General Store and cafe. Sunday drivers on motorcycles, ATVs and bicycles, too, enjoyed fine noontime fare.
After a sumptuous feast, the good news for bicycle riders is that there's lots of downhill going back to Redding. Instead of biking upstream, the byway now goes downstream along the Mulberry.
On a bike or in a car, Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway is one of Arkansas' most beautiful rides or scenic drives.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org