Start your new year off with a trek through the beautiful landscape of one of Southeast Arkansas’ three state parks. Cane Creek, Lake Chicot, and Moro state parks along with other Arkansas state parks will join America’s State Parks’ nationwide invitation to enjoy First Day Hikes by offering individuals and families the opportunity to begin the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1.
First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The initiative targeted the first of January — the start of a new year — to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and the year-round recreation that can be experienced locally in state parks. Through the years, other states joined this health initiative by also offering First Day Hikes and other outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day.
Arkansas State Parks Director Greg Butts said state parks around Arkansas will join America’s State Parks’ nationwide invitation to the public to enjoy First Day Hikes by offering individuals and families the opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1.
Arkansas’s state park system includes 143 trails totaling 400 miles.
“You are invited to explore a trail on your own, or join a state park interpreter on a guided hike,” Butts said. “Our interpreters will connect you to the beauty and history found in the parks, and you’ll enjoy shared experiences that will make memories to last a lifetime,”
The Arkansas state parks offering guided First Day Hikes are:
• Cane Creek State Park (Star City) — This hike is a combination of the Delta View Trail, Timberland Trail, and Cane Creek Lake Trail from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at Pavilion 1 for this six-mile hike along the edge of two of Arkansas’s natural divisions: the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, also known as the Delta, and the West Gulf Coastal Plain. / Delta View Trail from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Meet at Pavilion 1 for this 2.5-mile hike. The Delta View Trail is located within the West Gulf Coastal Plain, and is characterized by gently sloping hills. At the one-mile mark, hikers can enjoy a view of Cane Creek Lake, which lies within the Delta.
• Lake Chicot State Park (Lake Village) — Guided hike along the lakeshore from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Meet behind campsite #127. / Delta Woodlands Nature Trail from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Meet at the trailhead next to the park visitor center for this guided, leisurely stroll through the woods. See a variety of bottomland hardwoods.
• Moro Bay State Park (Jersey) — Deer Run Trail from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Enjoy this three-eighths-of-a-mile trail where white-tailed deer and other wildlife are seen regularly.
• Bull Shoals-White River State Park (Bull Shoals)—Big Bluff Trail from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the trailhead on Powerhouse Road just beneath Bull Shoals Dam. Enjoy this two-hour hike along this moderately strenuous, 1.75-mile trail. The first part of this loop trail is a level walk over the remains of a railroad bed constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to bring in steel and lumber from Cotter, Arkansas, to construct Bull Shoals Dam. The trail crosses Powerhouse Road and continues up the hillside to an area overlooking the White River and Bull Shoals Dam.
• Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area (Wickes)—Harris Creek Trail from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Meet at the trailhead. The trail is located off of U.S. 278, approximately nine miles east of Wickes [NOTE: Call the park at 870-385-2201 by December 22 to register for this guided hike.] This easy-to-moderate trail passes through six different habitats that range from a dry open shale pit to a mature shortleaf pine/hardwood forest. Halfway through the trail there is an overlook that offers a wonderful view of the Cossatot River as it winds its way through the Ouachita Mountains.
• Crater of Diamond State Park (Murfreesboro)—Little Missouri River Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. The trail over level terrain winds its way through the woods from the park campground to the scenic Little Missouri River and loops back to the trailhead. Half of the trail has paved barrier-free access. It is the longest wheelchair-accessible trail in southwest Arkansas. The unpaved section of the trail is an easy walk.
• Crowley’s Ridge State Park (Paragould)—Lake Ponder Trail from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Meet at the park basketball court for a walk around the park’s swimming lake on this barrier-free trail. Many of the park’s CCC structures can be seen from this trail that includes wayside exhibits sharing the history of this park. Tour the newly renovated group dining hall after the hike. / Dancing Rabbit Trail from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center for this guided 1.22-mile hike to explore hills and valleys of Crowley’s Ridge. For an easier hike, participants may join the group up to the swinging bridge, then take an access trail back to the campground or double back to the park visitor center.
• Daisy State Park (Kirby)—One-mile hike to explore nature in the park from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center.
• Davidsonville Historic State Park (Pocahontas)—Black River Trail from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Meet at the park visitor center. Stroll along the banks of the Black River. / Trapper Lake Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center. Join this nature-themed, one-mile trip around Trapper Lake. Enjoy hot chocolate after the hike.
• DeGray Lake Resort State Park (Bismarck)—Island Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet in the lobby of DeGray Lodge. This trail stretches along the west shoreline of the island for about a mile, and loops back to the lodge. / Green Heron Trail from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center for this guided hike.
• Delta Heritage Trail State Park (Barton)—Hike the Rails trail walk from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Meet at the trailhead near the park visitor center located at Barton. / Lick Creek Bike Tour from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Join a park interpreter on this guided bike tour to learn about the connection between this trail and the Civil War. This easy, flat bike ride will cover three miles. Wear sturdy shoes. Bikes are available; however, you are welcome to bring your own. NOTE: The first day dinner is a Southern tradition with roots going back to the Civil War. Join the park interpreter at the park visitor center in Barton from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to learn more about the history of this special meal, and try it out for yourself. Cost is $2 per person.
• Devil’s Den State Park (West Fork)—Yellow Rock Trail from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Meet at the Yellow Rock trailhead by Campground “A.” Hike 300 feet in elevation to one of the best views in the park. Atop the Yellow Rock, enjoy an unobstructed view of the Lee Creek Valley. Along the rest of the trail, see cedar glades, interesting rock formations, and the first structure built in the park. / Lake Trail from noon to 1 p.m. Meet at the suspension bridge by the park playground. Follow Lee Creek on this gently rolling trail as it makes its way to the CCC dam that creates Lake Devil. You will see remnants of the original CCC stone path along this easy hike. / Devil’s Den Trail from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Meet at the flagpole at the park visitor center. Join the park interpreter and park volunteers for this pet-friendly hike on the Devil’s Den Trail. Explore this unique, Ozark ecosystem, learn how the park got its name, and finish with a special campfire and s’mores.
• Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area (Rogers)—Sinking Stream Trail from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Join the park interpreter for a guided hike along this ½-mile nature trail. Discover the unique characteristics of a sinking stream and the wildlife surrounding it. / Historic Van Winkle Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the trailhead on Ark. 12. Join an interpretive guide for this ½-mile stroll through history on this barrier-free trail. Learn about the late 1800s history and Peter Van Winkle.
• Jacksonport State Park (Jacksonport)—Tunstall Riverwalk Trail from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Follow this trail along the White River from the boat launch ramp area to the park campground.
• Lake Catherine State Park (Hot Springs)—Falls Branch Trail from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Meet at the trailhead located in Camping Area “C.” The trail winds through the pine/hardwood forest of the park, crossing Little Canyon Creek several times. It passes a scenic, seasonal waterfall on Falls Creek and leads back to the trailhead.
• Lake Charles State Park (Powhatan)—First Day Night Hike on the White Oak Trail from 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Meet at the park nature center. Join the park interpreter for this night hike. Listen for night sounds and enjoy the stars you trek this 1.5 mile loop trail that meanders across intermittent streams and along the lake’s shoreline.
• Lake Dardanelle State Park (Russellville)—Meadowbrook Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Explore this natural setting here in the Arkansas River Valley.
• Lake Fort Smith State Park (Mountainburg)—Ozark Highlands Trail and Shepherd Springs Loop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center. Join this moderate-to-strenuous, four-mile round-trip hike. Bring water and a snack, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes. After the hike, enjoy a traditional Ozarks lunch of black-eyed peas and cornbread. If you plan to attend, please call the park the park ahead of time at 479-369-2469.
• Lake Frierson State Park (Jonesboro)—Dogwood Lane Trail from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Meet at the visitor center parking lot. Join the park interpreter and learn about the unique forest of Crowley’s Ridge and history of this area. There is some hilly terrain; however, most of this 1/3-mile hike is easy.
• Lake Ouachita State Park (Mountain Pine)—Choose from hikes of four different lengths along the Caddo Bend Trail. Enjoy the one-mile hike (9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.), the two-mile hike (9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.), the three-mile hike (9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.), or the four-mile hike (9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.). Meet at the park visitor center picnic area. Following the morning hikes, a New Year/New Start Campfire will be hosted by park staff. Relax by the campfire and enjoy hot beverages and healthy treats. Meet members from the Ouachita Mountain Hikers and Basecamp organizations to discover other opportunities to explore nature while engaging in outdoor activities during 2015. These activities will kick off the 60th anniversary events to be held at Lake Ouachita State Parks throughout 2015.
• Lake Poinsett State Park (Harrisburg)—Great Blue Heron Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the trailhead. Join the park interpreter for this leisurely, one-mile hike. After the hike, warm up by the campfire and enjoy a tasty campfire cooking treat.
• Logoly State Park (McNeil)—Crane’s Fly Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the park visitor center. Enjoy this 3/4-mile hike around Logoly Pond. Pre-registration for this hike is required by December 30. Call the park at 870-695-3561.
• Millwood State Park (Ashdown)—Waterfowl Way Trail from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Meet at the trailhead for this 1.5-mile hike. This trail is especially popular during the fall and winter months when many varieties of migratory waterfowl use Millwood Lake as a resting site along their long journeys.
• Mississippi River State Park (Marianna)—Trotting Fox Trail from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Meet at the trailhead for this easy, 1/2-mile hike that’s perfect for beginners. / Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Meet at the trailhead. Enjoy this moderate, one-mile hike and explore the forest of Crowley’s Ridge.
• Mount Magazine State Park (Paris)—Begin the New Year by enjoying the sunrise from Arkansas’s highest point during the sunrise hike from 7:15 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. Meet in the patio on the south side of The Lodge at Mount Magazine. / Signal Hill Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet in the lobby of The Lodge at Mount Magazine. Hike to Arkansas’s highest point. / Hike and enjoy the winter vista from Arkansas’s high point from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Meet at the Brown Springs Picnic Area for this hike. Join the park interpreter for this walk to the edges of high cliffs overlooking a vast landscape. This trail is not listed in the park’s brochures.
• Mount Nebo State Park (Dardanelle)—Summit Park Trail from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at Summit Park trailhead. This loop trail begins on the northwest side of the mountaintop. Named for the Summit Park Hotel, built near the trailhead in 1889, it meanders down to Fern Lake along the same path that it has taken since it was first used by guests of the famous hotel. The CCC improved the trail with beautiful native rock work in the 1930s.
• Petit Jean State Park (Morrilton)—Seven Hollows Trail from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Join a park interpreter and explore part of the trail and hike to the Natural Bridge, a natural stone arch. You are invited to assist with some light trail maintenance. / Rock House Cave Hike from 11:15 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Rock House Cave parking area. Rock House Cave is a large rock shelter. It is also the premier spot in the state for viewing Native American rock art created over 500 years ago. This trail also includes other interesting geological formations, including Turtle Rocks. / Hike to Bear Cave from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Meet at the Bear Cave parking lot off Ark. 154 for this guided ½-mile hike among this area’s giant sandstone boulders and learn of the legend of Bear Cave. / “A Hike through the Ages” themed hike from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Meet a park interpreter at the Mather Lodge breezeway and enjoy this guided ¼-mile hike to the Cedar Falls Overlook. Along the way, learn about the history of Petit Jean, from the distant past to the present day.
• Pinnacle Mountain State Park (Roland)—West Summit Trail from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the trailhead in the West Summit Picnic Area. Hike to the top of 1,011-foot Pinnacle Mountain and enjoy the panoramic view. After the hike, relax by the campfire and enjoy hot chocolate. / Base Trail from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the West Summit Trail trailhead in the West Summit Picnic Area. Enjoy this three-mile hike on the Base Trail around Pinnacle Mountain. After the hike, relax by the campfire and enjoy hot chocolate. / Kingfisher Trail from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Meet at the trailhead in the West Summit Picnic Area. Join a park interpreter for this 1/2-mile walk on this barrier-free trail alongside the Little Maumelle River. Learn about some of the unique plants and animals that can be found along Arkansas rivers.
• Queen Wilhelmina State Park (Mena)—Lovers’ Leap Trail from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet the park interpreter at the Day-use Area parking lot. Enjoy an invigorating hike on this loop trail that includes an overlook offering a sweeping view from 2,681-foot Rich Mountain of the surrounding Ouachita National Forest.
• Village Creek State Park (Wynne)—Lake Austell Trail from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Meet at the trailhead for this 1.5-mile guided hike. From the visitor center, the trail meanders along steep, hogback ridges and through a wooded stream valley to Lake Austell, then it continues on to the picnic area. The trail is moderately steep in places and allows a good view of the Crowley’s Ridge landscape and rich forest diversity found here in the park.
• White Oak Lake State Park (Bluff City)—Spring Branch Trail from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Explore this 1/3-mile trail and enjoy the variety of trees found here.
• Withrow Springs State Park (Huntsville)—Forest Trail from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Enjoy the rugged Ozark beauty and the sounds of nature to be experienced here along this two-mile trail.
• Woolly Hollow State Park (Greenbrier)—Huckleberry Trail from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Meet at the trailhead. Morning is the perfect time to explore the natural world along this trail. / Common Sense Hike from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Meet at the historic Woolly Cabin. Humans rely on our five senses, and often we use one more than the others. Which one will you use to remember this trail hike in the park? / Huckleberry Trail from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Meet at the trailhead. Hike along this 3.5-mile trail that winds around Lake Bennett.
For additional information about First Day Hikes in Arkansas’s state parks, visit http://ArkansasStateParks.com.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]