The History of Northwest Arkansas’s Greenways

The Razorback Regional Greenway is something to be proud of. A 36 mile multi-use trail reaching from the Walker Park Trailhead in Fayetteville to the Veterans Wall of Honor in Bella Vista, the Razorback Regional Greenway shows tourists some of the best of Arkansas, while providing enjoyable adventure and practical transportation for local folks.

In the beginning

The plan started with three historic routes: the Butterfield Stage Coach route, Civil War road and communication routes; and the Trail of Tears.

The Butterfield Stage Coach route carried passengers and mail across the country at a time when traveling across the country was dangerous and exciting in equal measures. The Civil War routes included the path taken by the telegraph, a new technology that extended communication to an impressive degree at a time when mail delivery was generally on horseback and sometimes required swimming. The Trail of Tears was the road followed by the Native Americans (especially the Cherokee) pushed out of the Southeast and forced to make new homes in Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory.

These three historic routes, important parts of American history even if they’re painful, should be honored. But roads have already followed these early routes, so using these routes for a greenway wasn’t practical.

Going green

The cities of Northwest Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, and a federal Tiger Grant financed professional planning and construction of the greenway.

The object was to provide recreation and transportation alternatives, but also to boost the local economy. Accordingly, the greenway brings together not only plenty of beautiful natural areas, but also some more urban attractions:

  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Corporate headquarters of Walmart, JB Hunt Transport Services and Tyson Foods
  • 24 schools, including the University of Arkansas
  • Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
  • Downtown areas in several towns in Northwest Arkansas

Experience the greenway

One popular way to enjoy the Razorback Regional Greenway is to go Square to Square. That means starting at the downtown Square in Fayetteville and riding to the Downtown Square in Bentonville — or vice versa.

You can rent a bike at either end of the ride and turn it in at the other end for a 32 mile ride. Get a tasty breakfast at the start of your ride and an equally tasty dinner and the other end. Both town squares have a great selection of restaurants.

The Bentonville end of the trip should certainly include a visit to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. At the Fayetteville square, you’ll find plenty of options for shopping, clubbing, and sightseeing.

You can start anywhere along the greenway and enjoy it for many miles or few. All the gear you need you can find at Uncle Sam’s!

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