Big Loop hits on some of the most scenic roads in the Lake Sylvia/Lake Winona area. Unique to Big Loop in this route collection is a southern patchwork of trails and roads that, taken counter-clockwise, follow a long ridge descending to the south shore of Lake Winona. There are a number of excellent established campsites on this ridge allowing the a bikepacker to wake up to beautiful views of the southern Ouachitas.
Despite the 6200 foot elevation gain, Big Loop takes a more gradual path through the area, skipping the Brown Creek Road climb and instead taking you up Blue Jay Hollow road. The Reform Road rock garden is also bypassed. The only real “heartbreaker” climb begins at mile 19 and ascends 1250 feet over the next 6 miles – but it tops out at the Perfect Campsite which is an excellent place to checkout the views over a well-deserved break.
Like South Winona Loop, this route goes over the Winona spillway on Reform Road. If the lake is high then water may be flowing onto the spillway, making a crossing a little sketchy. Check out this USGS page for current water level information. If the gage height is over 40 feet then water is flowing over the spillway.
This route is a 53 mile loop that climbs and descends 6200 feet.
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And here’s a modification of Big Loop. Why not call it Bigger Loop? Like it’s little brother, Bigger Loop begins with Blue Jay Hollow road but cuts north along the ridge of Link Mountain. It winds through some beautiful pine forests and passes one of the best campsites I’ve found (loop.camp.0). It then steals a bit of the original Sylva 50 route, winding all the way out to Highway 7 and then steeply climbs up to The Perfect Campsite. A few miles later this route drops south to climb over Smith Pinnacle on Barton Mountain, the hightest point in the area at 1921 ft. The double track up an over the summit is beautiful and rugged. On the descent, the route catches back up with Big Loop along the south shore of Lake Wynona. This is a tougher ride than Big Loop. Lots of mileage and lots of elevation gain.
The same warning about the Winona spillway goes for this route too.
This route is a 63 mile loop that climbs and descends 7100 feet.
Download the GPX.
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