Searcy County is definitely Motorcycle Friendly!!!
Thousands of riders every year make the trek up U.S. Highway 65 to view the beautiful north central Arkansas Ozarks. If you would like to take some scenic, back road “detours”, there are a couple routes you should try.
These two routes are almost entirely within Searcy County and both have some great scenery and some nice challenging curves.
The Leslie Lasso
The Leslie Lasso begins in Searcy County on State Highway 66 in the quaint Ozark Mountain town of Leslie where restored old buildings downtown give Leslie a character that few American towns possess today. Leslie is home to antique stores, shops, multiple parks, restaurants and a wood-fired brick oven that produces Old World Sourdough Bread.
Traveling east from Leslie involves an immediate climb on a mountain with an 11 percent grade. After passing through Oxley, the route descends into Stone County. Beautiful scenery abounds as the trip glides through the community of Alco and makes a left turn just short of Timbo onto State Highway 263. Shortly after making the left turn, the route passes in front of the old home of Grammy award winning folk singer Jimmy Driftwood on the right. The scenic route continues through the community of Onia and just to the west of the Ozark National Forest as it makes its way to an intersection with State Highway 14 near the town of Big Flat. Making a left turn on highway 14, the Leslie Lasso reenters Searcy County and transits eight miles of rugged and gorgeous countryside bisected by the clear, cool waters of Big Creek. The route arrives in Harriet where it makes another left-hand turn onto State Highway 27.
The trip along State Highway 27 takes the motorcyclist to the south of the Loafers Glory Wildlife Management Area. At the community of Morning Star, the route passes the South Maumee Road on its right which leads to hiking, a canoe access point, and a primitive campground for the Buffalo National River. Proceeding through Morning Star on highway 27 the biker will soon approach the town of Marshall. However, the route will turn left just before Marshall onto State Highway 74 which will take the rider back to state highway 66. This portion of the route offers miles of bucolic countryside with little traffic and views of Long Creek and Big Creek. Transiting through the communities of Landis and Thola, the route will briefly reenter Stone County, then the rider will intersect with State Highway 66 and make a right turn heading southwest as the road makes its climb into Searcy County and the community of Oxley. Seven miles past Oxley the highway once again finds the town of Leslie after descending down the 11 percent grade.
The Leslie Lasso is a 64 Mile Round trip Loop. Mileage Courtesy of MHS East Club.
The Bear Creek Growl
The Bear Creek Growl begins on State Highway 27 outside the historic Searcy County Courthouse, constructed in the late 1880s, site of the Searcy County Veterans Memorial and the Veterans Wall of Honor. The route turns left onto US Highway 65 and proceeds through Marshall past the state’s only year-round drive-in movie theater, the Kenda Drive-In. Leaving Marshall, the rider will see one of Arkansas’ most panoramic views looking west towards Point Peter Mountain that stands prominent at 2,040 feet above sea level. The biker descends into the fertile Bear Creek valley where lush farms produce hay and are occasionally visited by some of the local elk which can sometimes be viewed right from Highway 65. The route then turns left on to State Highway 74 and crosses Bear Creek.
Highway 74 goes to the town of Snowball where Ozark folk music legend Jimmy Driftwood once was the school principal. Snowball is also one of the horseback trailheads for the annual Falling Water Trail Ride that takes place every first weekend of October. Snowball is a gateway to the Richland Valley and the Ozark Highlands Trail. West of Snowball is Searcy County’s highest elevation, Horn Mountain, which stands at 2,203 feet above sea level.
At Snowball, the motorcyclist continues the journey on State Highway 377 transiting just east of the Ozark National Forest to Witts Springs. Witts Springs is home to the annual Hillbilly Daze held every Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. At Witts Springs, the traveler turns left onto State Highway 16. Shortly thereafter, the motorist takes another left turn onto State Highway 27 at the town of Tilly and transits a small corner of Pope County.
The Bear Creek Growl then ventures briefly into Van Buren County where it crosses the headwaters of Bear Creek and then turns north back into Searcy County transiting just to the west of 2,032 foot high Reves Knob and the Middle Fork of the Little Red River. After passing through Welcome Home, Highway 27 descends toward Marshall picking up a parallel path with Bear Creek at the Bohannon Community almost as far as Canaan.
The route ends back in Marshall as it passes the old, historic County Jail just before arriving again at the courthouse square. The jail was used from 1902 through 1976.
The Bear Creek Growl is a 57 Mile Round Trip Loop.