BELLA VISTA (KFSM) -- As Northwest Arkansas continues to add more miles of mountain bike trails, cities are encouraging riders to pay attention to the signs posted on the trail systems.
The Back 40 trail system opened earlier this month in Bella Vista and is marked with signs that tell users the name of the trail, the direction in which the trail goes and how difficult it is.
Jason Stouder, the director of operations for Progressive Trail Design, which is one of the companies building the Bella Vista trails, said a green circle indicates a beginner trail and the markings go from there.
"The blue square is going to be a more difficult trail. It's still going to be easier than a lot of the trails or than some trails," Stouder said. "Then the black [diamond] is going to be a very difficult trail."
Stouder said PTD’s goal is to put these types signs on every trail in Northwest Arkansas and to make sure everyone knows what they mean.
The Ledges trail, which is part of the Back 40 system, is very popular with experienced mountain bikers and it is Bella Vista's most difficult trails. Cassi Lapp, the communications manager for the city of Bella Vista, urges riders who are not at that skill level or who do not feel comfortable riding the Ledges to choose a different route.
"Instead of going on the Ledges you can take the Back 40 Loop, which meets back around on the other end of the Ledges and you can meet back up with your friends and continue riding," Lapp said. "And everybody has a good time and everybody stays safe."
Stouder said some trails in Northwest Arkansas are also marked with double-black diamonds, which means riders could be in for exposed bluff lines and large drops.
"You might have some stuff that if you are not ready for it or not sure, it could get you into some trouble," Stouder said. "So you want to make sure you are paying attention to those. If you are in doubt hop off the bike and walk it."
The green circle, blue square, black diamond and double-black diamond designations are universal in their meaning, so they mean the same thing on every mountain biking trail in Northwest Arkansas and mountain biking trails across the country.