Mountain Bike Impact Study


As part of the 2015-2016 assessment of recreation on CAW properties, the use of mountain bikes surfaced as a popular request among citizens and stakeholders wishing to use the Ouachita National Recreation Trail (OT) as a mountain biking destination. Mile markers 195-219 pass through or border CAW property and are subject to the Use Permit Agreement between CAW and Arkansas State Parks which prohibits the use of mountain bikes on CAW property. As a recommendation of the 2016 CAW Recreation and Decision Making Framework (Framework), watershed staff has chosen to “evaluate impacts of mountain biking” on the OT.  The Framework states that data and literature addressing effects of mountain biking on water quality is not extensive, therefore the recommendation calls for CAW to evaluate impacts using a “short-term pilot project and study of a small section of the OT” using the decision making framework as guidance.


The objective of this study is to determine whether or not mountain bikes have a significant impact on trail erosion along sections of the OT on CAW properties in proximity to the Maumelle River, Lake Maumelle, and their tributaries that could affect drinking water quality or treatment parameters. Thank you for your interest in this study.

Questions about the Research:

If you have any questions about this research, you may contact Dr. Connolly ( or Ms. Raven L. Lawson ( This research project (#18-099) has been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects at the University of Central Arkansas.

Mountain Bike Research Participant Application

Become a Research Participant

If you would like to participate in this study as a Mountain Bike Rider, please fill out this application. Carefully read through the description and terms before proceeding with the application.

Course Description:

The course will consist of just under 3.5 miles of trail and farm roads, with the study site on approximately 3 of those miles. This course is intended to be an “out-and-back” course, and can be shortened or repeated as many times as the rider wishes on each outing. The course is technical in nature, and the terrain varies from rocky climbs of up to 50 feet, rolling upland forest habitat, and sandier bottomlands. As part of the study, the course will have check-in stations, trail cameras, trail counters, and silt-fencing along the trail to be aware of. The study will take place on a portion of the OT and CAW properties. Exact location and other information will be given to permitted riders during the mandatory orientation. Permitted riders/applicants must be 18 years of age or older as of August 1, 2018.


Participants will be selected from this pool of applicants and permits will be issued to those selected. This application DOES NOT guarantee a permit. Permitted riders will be required to:

  • Sign a liability waiver
  • Attend a rider orientation (evening of Tuesday, August 14th or Saturday, August 18th in Little Rock)
  • Create a dedicated confidential MapMyRide account to share ride data with the investigators
  • Strictly adhere to all rules provided at the time of selection or as posted at the study site.

Permits can be revoked at any time at the discretion of study investigators. Failure to adhere to the designated section of trail will result in automatic revocation of participation.