By Priscilla Willis | Pig Trail Photos courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism
Follow the Pig Trail to Hog Heaven
The scenic byway known as the Pig Trail is steeped in tradition as the route for Hog fans heading to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville for Razorback football games. The 19 miles of highway winding through the deeply wooded Boston Mountains region of the Ozark Mountains between Fayetteville and Ozark has been used for decades by U of A students and sports fans. In recent years, the Pig Trail’s allure has grown by drawing accolades as a motorcyclist’s paradise for its picturesque vistas and exciting serpentine stretches of hairpin curves, switchbacks and rolling hills.
How did the Pig Trail get its name?
Arguably, this stretch of highway became known as the Pig Trail because it served as a shortcut for Razorback fans traveling to Fayetteville before local sections of Interstate 40 opened in the early 1970s. However, others may argue its name came from the roaming pigs often seen near the junction of the Mulberry River, or the road’s resemblance to a curly pig’s tail, or simply for the Razorbacks.
The Pig Trail Scenic Byway dazzles against a technicolor backdrop of brilliant foliage in the fall. However, regardless of the season, it makes for a spectacular drive on two or four wheels. You can expect a thrilling trip through tree-canopy tunnels and past lakes, creeks, isolated farms and historic towns. The south end of the Pig Trail begins at Arkansas Highway 23 in Ozark on the southern boundary of the Ozark National Forest and extends to the intersection of Arkansas Highway 16 at Brashears. From here, you take Arkansas Highway 16 into Fayetteville.
Whether you’re coming from central Arkansas and beginning your glory ride at the south end of the Pig Trail or road-tripping from Fayetteville, the Pig Trail is 19 miles of pure fun. Be sure to stop at the Turner Bend Store for gas, refreshments and a souvenir T-shirt or patch declaring that you are a Pig Trail survivor.
While the winding road and gorgeous vistas set the pace for a leisurely ride, make time for at least one of the incredible outdoor recreational opportunities along the way. The Pig Trail zig-zags through the Ozark National Forest and crosses the Mulberry River and the 165-mile-long Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail.
One iconic Arkansas experience that never disappoints is floating, whitewater rafting, kayaking or fishing on the Mulberry River. Turner Bend Outfitters can fix you up with gear and boat rentals and offers campsites and cabins if you decide to stay. In addition, the establishment sells T-shirts, homemade sandwiches, groceries, and a good selection of beer and native wines. Turner Bend Outfitters has served road warriors and adventurists since 1911 and is open seven days a week. Visit www.turnerbend.com for more information.
Turner Bend Store
Distinctive accommodations in Fayetteville
For fans traveling to U of A events, Fayetteville has a number of lodging choices that are a class above the standard 2-star or 3-star hotel chains.
A Fayetteville original, the Inn at Carnall Hall is a boutique hotel with a pedigree that extends to 1905 when it opened as a women’s dormitory named after Miss Ella Howison Carnall, a beloved English professor. Today, Carnall Hall blends history and Southern hospitality with modern amenities and cuisine. The stately wraparound porches overlooking the lawn of Old Main offer a peaceful ambiance where guests can enjoy their morning coffee and pastries and relax on lazy afternoons. Lambeth Lounge features a new coffee bar perfect for meeting up with friends before heading to the stadium and, afterward, for celebrating Razorback victories with a cold brew or craft cocktail before savoring the award-winning cuisine at Ella’s Table.
Situated on the U of A campus, Carnall Hall’s support of Razorback football and the U of A athletics program is deeply ingrained in its culture. Patrons of the inn are privy to amenities like golf cart transportation to and from games and convenient access to community events like “Tailgate with Ted.” New this year and open to the public, “Tailgate with Ted” is a barbecue hosted by Carnall Hall owner Ted Belden for the homecoming game on Oct. 21. Visit www.innatcarnallhall.com.
Photo courtesy of The Inn at Carnall Hall
The Graduate Fayetteville, located in the heart of downtown, is the perfect spot for “Generation G” — meaning, if you consider yourself curious and an adventurer, you’re in! The rooms sport vibrant décor anchored by Razorback-red beds and bold camouflage carpet. Being only a few blocks from Dickson Street and a short stroll to the U of A, staying at the Graduate puts you close to all the action in the bustling entertainment district and the excitement surrounding game days. Other perks include relaxing by the pool, working out in the fully equipped gym and touring the town on complimentary bikes. Plus, feel free to bring your pup; the Graduate is pet-friendly. Visit www.graduatehotels.com/fayetteville.
Dickson Street Inn offers luxury and historic charm in the heart of Fayetteville’s lively entertainment district. Built in 1894 as a single-family home, the inn was tastefully remodeled into a 10-room inn in 2009. Eight of the 10 rooms are in the main house, with two larger suites in the detached carriage house. The upstairs patio deck connects the two buildings and is a relaxing place to sip a cocktail while enjoying a beautiful view of the sunset and Old Main. Enjoy your morning coffee or evening respite in the comforting Southern ambiance of the wraparound porch facing Dickson Street. With dining and entertainment within walking distance, it’s easy to catch some music at George’s Majestic Lounge or Tin Roof, see a show at Walton Arts Center or TheatreSquared, engage in some retail therapy, and satisfy your appetite in downtown Fayetteville’s eclectic dining scene. Visit www.dicksonstreetinn.com.
The Graduate Fayetteville. Photo by Ron Blunt
Unique accommodations further afield
The Inn at the Mill is a historic building and former mill that was fully renovated — preserving its timely elegance while adding modern amenities — and transformed into an award-winning Ascend Collection property from Choice Hotels. Its location in Springdale off Interstate 49 at the Johnson Mill exit is 6 miles from the U of A and Razorback Stadium. If you prefer to escape to peace and tranquility after game day, the Inn at the Mill is the perfect place. Guests rave about the spacious rooms, friendly service, lovely grounds, water features and exceptional continental breakfast. Visit www.innatthemill.com.
Bicycle-loving sports fans who want football and MTB action head to The Bike Inn in Bentonville. Owners Tiffany and Jeremy Rose transformed a 1950s-era roadside motel into a community basecamp for bicyclists, adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts, music and art seekers, and anyone seeking personality over ordinary. The Bike Inn retains some of the former Pines Motel nostalgia while being the only cycling-centric motel in Bentonville. The Roses are proud to provide exceptional accommodations and cater to the unique needs of biking enthusiasts, including bike storage, washing stations, gear, rental bikes and shuttle tours. With more than 200 miles of trails in Northwest Arkansas, they help you find “the good stuff” by curating MTB and gravel routes that flow well and can advise cyclists of the best trails in each section based on riding levels. Visit www.thebikeinn.com.
Art-loving Razorback fans will appreciate the refined and chic 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, on the northeast corner of the charming town square. Contemporary artwork is part of this property’s DNA. In addition, the world-renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a short walk from the hotel. Expect the unexpected at the museum, beginning with the two dramatic art installations that greet you upon arrival — Orange Tree, a striking, large-scale sculpture, and Making Change, a Cadillac Fleetwood limousine covered in thousands of coins. With more than 12,000 square feet of exhibition space, there are opportunities to discover art around every corner, from the light-filled lobby and gallery space to The Hive restaurant and lounge. Spacious guest rooms are bright and inviting, with high ceilings, large windows and modern, custom-designed furnishings punctuated by pops of original artwork. The Hive restaurant and lounge prepares locally sourced ingredients showcasing familiar American and Southern dishes with a refreshing, elevated twist. Visit www.21cmuseumhotels.com.