Railyard Bike Park in Rogers, Arkansas, reviewed by April Wallace, nwaMotherlode Early Childhood Editor
Park name: Railyard Bike Park
Location: 299 E. Cherry St. Rogers
How big is it? I don’t know how many acres it covers, but it’s a fairly large place. The man made hills, jumps and features make it impossible to see everything from one point, but it’s not sprawling either.
Main features: kids bike track, off-road bike track, pump track, boardwalks and obstacles, such as tunnels and a train car to ride through. A dog park is at the entrance of the park, while a natural playground with a couple of small slides is at the far end of the park. A paved trail also leads down to Lake Atalanta Park. Other off-road trails connect it to the Lake Atalanta and Pleasant Ridge trails.
Stroller-friendly? It depends on where you want to go. If you are comfortable staying on the edge of the park or in the pavilion, the paved parking lot and an easy ramp will get you there. I would NOT bring a stroller onto the bike tracks. There’s not really any room to scoot off to the side and cyclists here go very fast!
Covered areas for picnics? Railyard Bike Park has a really accommodating pavilion full of seating options right at the entrance. The first level has half a dozen or more full size picnic tables, while the second level has maybe 10 small, round tables with tall chairs and three more full size picnic tables. Additionally there is a small paved area right next to the kids track that has two of these picnic tables, a water fountain and a trash can, making it an easy place to set up a lunch or snack while keeping an eye on kids.
Shady areas? The pavilion and the trees at the edge of the park are all the shade there is. Come prepared!
Special needs features? The restrooms have a wide stall closest to the door, but that’s the only feature I noticed.
Restrooms: Two restroom facilities are on this park’s grounds. The one in the pavilion has plenty of space: six stalls, a few sinks and both paper towels and a hand dryer, but unfortunately the hand dryer wasn’t working while we were there. No changing table or kids’ stool available. And if you’re bringing a stroller or a wheelchair inside, or letting your small kids in first, just know the door is quite heavy. The other restroom facility is closer to the dog park.
Notes from the Mom Park Correspondent:
Railyard Bike Park was a dream come true for my bicycle-obsessed boys. The yellow pump track and soft trail that leads through a little “train” tunnel in the sectioned-off kids area kept them riding in circles for a good while. That area is similar enough to one at the Runway Bike Park (a frequent stop for us) that they soon wanted to move on to the bigger course, lured by the sight of the train car and teens and adults doing impressive stunts before us.
What I appreciated most were the signs that explained the difficulty levels of the tracks so I could appropriately look out for my boys. For Henry and Elliott (ages 4 and 2), who spend probably more time riding bikes than walking, I still only allowed them only on the Novice Line and the Beginner Line. That’s how difficult the other lines are. I didn’t even want them to attempt it this time/at these ages, and that was the only real downside of this place. My boys wanted to do what the big kids were doing, which isn’t possible just yet!
The novice line is a very smooth and easy course for inexperienced riders, but it was so easy that it left my boys completely unfazed. They immediately asked ‘What’s next,’ so we went to the beginner line.
The beginner line is just a step up from novice, but each increasing level is made to challenge the rider a bit to increase their skills, as one of the helpful signs says. It delivered with bumpier areas, much steeper slopes, and of course got them to fly down the course faster and faster (making it a challenge for this mama to keep up, but hey, I got my cardio in!)
Going through the train car was pure little boy delight for the novelty of that ride, the murals they found inside and because they loved being able to peer out of the always-open train car door and see aircraft flying by. But my mama heart leapt a little bit knowing there are no chains or rails to catch them if they peer out a little too far. This isn’t something I’d let them go through without me, not at this age anyway. Here’s a short video of the boys riding through the train car:
Even with all their experience, I had to help both boys at two of the most difficult points of the beginner line.
After the course, we climbed the stairs that go over the tunnel and discovered that it’s a point where more experienced riders get a starting leap off of what looks like (much sturdier) diving board-like things so they can do jump after jump in hopes of catching as much air as possible.
Of course my boys wanted to do that, so we compromised by taking the beginner’s version of it, which starts from the ground rather than the boards and creates just enough momentum to keep from having to work hard up those tall hills.
Words of warning: I took my boys through that part individually because I think they would have taken nasty spills there without some assistance. Even with the variety of soft trails, there are plenty of paved ones and others lined with gravel, so we walked away with a couple boo boos. We’ll be bringing our knee and elbow pads next time!
On this side of the park we noticed a few cool features, such as a helpful bike wash (plenty of dirt paths here to get your tires dirty) and a separate “fix it” station with an air pump and instruments to change a bike tire.
Our last stop was to check out some cool rocks that Henry noticed. As we got closer it was clear they were part of a natural playground. I loved that both boys found things to entertain themselves here, climbing the stone steps, sliding down the short metal slides, running through the little tunnel, jumping from tree stump to tree stump and balancing down steep log bridges. Had we seen it sooner we might have spent an equal amount of time just doing all that as riding bikes!
This bike park closes sometimes due to rain damage and other weather conditions. You can check conditions and status of the park on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheRailyardAR/.