The Best One Day Mountain Bike Road Trip from Kansas City


I wish that I could take days, or even weeks, for every trail trip that is on my long list of places I still need to go, and many I would like to go back to. Like most of the people I know and ride with though, there is an equally long list full of items like: job, bills, dogs, kids, life, etc. When list two clashes with list one, it is good to know that there are options for adventure and riding that fit into a span of less than twenty-four hours. There are lots of options for how you use that time, but here is one of the best ways to combine a low cost road trip, nostalgic American diner food, delicious beer, and gorgeous singletrack. Best of all, you can leave Kansas City early on Saturday morning and be back in time to crawl into bed at a reasonable hour that night (maybe after one more beer though...) and still take care of that life list on Sunday. This is the best out and back day trip for trail riding from Kansas City.

Step One: Pack your gear on Friday night. 'Nuff said. Pack it, throw it in the car, be done.

Step Two: Time to hit White Grill in Nevada, Missouri
Get up early. Now "early" means different things to different people, but your first stop is about an hour and a half south of Kansas City. Make a cup of coffee, grab a banana, skip the instant oatmeal, and hit the road. You're skipping breakfast because your first stop is White Grill in Nevada Missouri. They open at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and have been a road trip diner institution since 1938. Prices are great, food is diner-tastic, people are friendly, atmosphere is nostalgic, and the Susie-Q may or may not be one of the greatest uses for hot oil and a potato known to man (hint: it's a deep fried masterpiece.) Take it all in and enjoy your time, but it's time to hit the road; you've got trails to ride!

Step Three: Set that GPS for Slaughter Pen Trail in Bentonville, Arkansas
The name may inspire more horror movie images than hero dirt singletrack dreams, but Slaughter Pen is definitely all of the latter and none of the former. There is trail there for everyone, and no matter what your skill level, it's all fun. It's technical, it flows, it has dedicated downhill, it has a freeride park, it's a blast. If your skill and fitness are willing and you got up early enough, you can combine the Slaughter Pen and Blowing Springs trails to make a pretty fantastic 25 (ok, it's actually 23.9) mile loop of some of the best in Northwest Arkansas.

Step Four: Time to kick back and refuel at Bike Rack Brewing Company
Just ten minutes from the end of your ride is the Bike Rack Brewing Company. As the name implies, they are two-wheeler friendly and make a variety of beers, both staples and rotating seasonal beers, to fit the appetite of everyone who comes in. Bike Rack doesn't serve food, which may make this recommendation after a hard day on the trail seem odd, but I'll explain: In what can only be described as a perfect storm of beer and food, Bike Rack lets you bring your own food. Want to bring a pizza over? Do it. Make a fancy picnic? Sounds good, bring that too. They'll supply the beer, you just need to show up. Located downtown, there are multiple food options, such as Pedaler's Pub and its wood-fired pizza, within a quick walk from Bike Rack.

Step Five: Head home
It's been a long and glorious day. Roll down the windows (you probably smell a little funny after 23.9 miles of trail riding) and crank up the tunes. At just over three hours from Kansas City, you will be home in time to tuck the kids in, catch the end of the ball game, fall asleep exhausted on the couch, and get up happy and feeling good on Sunday morning. Enjoy!

*Step Six: Optional Crystal Bridges stop
If you can swing it, stay overnight and hit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the morning. They open at 10 a.m. on Sunday, so you could easily knock out the museum and walking paths and still be home in time for dinner. I've done four one day road trips from KC to CB now, so I have no problem saying it is worth it.

Drew has kids, dogs, a job, and other things that he has to do, so being able to take adventures like this is something that fuels his quest for fun, bikes, and beer as often as possible.