Mountain View, Arkansas

Ozarks unplugged: pick, paddle, and roll

Downtime along the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail     Photo: Ryan Donnell

"WHEN YOU FIRST PULL into town," says a woman who moved to Mountain View 20 years ago, "you just feel like you came back home." Might be the human-scale topography of north-central Arkansas—rolling farmland mixed with steep sub-2,000-foot peaks and tall cliffs, prettified by blooming dogwoods and redbuds come springtime. Or it might be the down-home Ozarks mentality—especially the nightly impromptu pickin' sessions on Mountain View's courthouse square—which, on the hipness scale, registers somewhere between O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Hee Haw. You can hardly spit without hitting some grinning guy with a dulcimer.

OUTDOORS: Almost the entire 150 miles of the free-flowing Buffalo River, 35 miles west of town, are protected, and its fast currents (on upper stretches) and green pools flanked by sandstone bluffs (downstream) are perfect for lazy summer idylls. Anglers love the White River for its willing trout and bass, and the Ozark National Forest contains hundreds of miles of paths for pedalers and pedestrians, including the new Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail, 40 miles of roller-coaster hills and stream crossings (with 60 miles in the works).
REAL ESTATE: Houses of recent vintage, with rustic wood siding, average in the $100,000 to $130,000 range. Cedar cottages in the woods typically list for $60,000 and up.
HANGOUTS: Pinewood Cabins, within walking distance from downtown, oozes hand-hewn rusticity (doubles, $59–$110; 870-269-5900, www.pinewoodcabins.com). Best place for a cappuccino: the Old Bay Cafe, right on Courtsquare. Best place for a real drink? In your room—Stone County is dry.

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