There’s moonshine flowing through these trails. With names like White Lightning, Mule Kicker and Skull Cracker, the gnarly tracks pay homage to the stills hidden in the Buffalo River Valley’s gullies and ridges, but now, instead of bootleggers, these hills are home to some of the most unique riding features in the central United States. Oh, and did we mention there’s a shuttle?
A couple of things to keep in mind on the trails:
- The network is free and open to the public, so ride at your own risk and scout the trails if you’ve never seen them before
- While the drops, jumps and rock gardens will challenge more seasoned riders, there are go-around options built into every large feature described on this page for riders who are not ready for the big hits
- The Ponca Downhill Trail is 11-miles long and ranges from intermediate to difficult depending on the route
UPPER AND LOWER BUFFALO RIVER RUN: BLUE, MULTIDIRECTIONAL
If you combine them, these trails add up to nearly six miles and 1,300 feet of descending. They’re a great place to start for riders who are just getting into gravity-driven riding, but the rocks and flowy rollers that can be turned into doubles make this run a solid warm-up for more skilled riders too. You can also use these trails to climb back to the top of the mountain if you’re not into shuttles.
LOWER MINER’S DOWNHILL: BLACK, DOWNHILL-ONLY
At a third of a mile, this is the shortest downhill trail on the mountain. It’s also a good place to start if you want to get a feel for the terrain. You won’t find any big features, but narrow single track, plenty of boulders and loose rocks keep things interesting.
WHITE LIGHTNING: BLACK, DOWNHILL-ONLY
The trail begins with an off-camber on-and-off rock feature that sets the tone for the rest of the descent. If you forego the alternate line, be on the lookout for a tight and steep roll in into a gap drop.
WHITE LIGHTNING ALT LINE: DOUBLE BLACK, DOWNHILL-ONLY
This alternate line draws inspiration from trails in the Pacific Northwest where wood features send riders down rock slabs. That’s what you’ll find here. You’ll also find a gap jump onto a rock with a drop on the other side.
SKULL CRACKER: BLACK, DOWNHILL-ONLY
This trail features a road gap drop that sends riders into raw rock gardens with some tight and steep switchbacks thrown in for good measure. It all leads to one of the biggest and most impressive features on the mountain: a 12-foot rock drop into a berm.
MULE KICKER: BLACK, DOWNHILL-ONLY
At two miles, not only is this the longest sustained downhill on the mountain, but it’s also packed with off-camber rock gardens, challenging doubles and plenty of steep and twisty bits. You’ll also have to keep your eyes peeled for a massive hip jump that likes to blend into its surroundings.
UPPER AND LOWER PONCA CREEK CONNECTORS: BLUE, MULTI-DIRECTIONAL
These two trails, which are connected by a dirt road, will get you back to the Buffalo Outdoor Center. This is where you earn your shuttle runs, so expect some climbing.