Friday, August 15, 2014

Arkansas' Other Trails: Trail of Tears

After covering beer and wine trails, it is time to discuss a much older trail with a tragic history; the Trail of Tears.  The Trail of Tears refers to the routes taken during the forced relocation of Native Americans from some southeastern states to Oklahoma.  Tens of thousands were forced from their homes and many didn't survive the trip west.  As you can see on the map below, several routes passed through Arkansas.

Some sections of the Trail of Tears are preserved as trails today in places like Village Creek State Park and the Trail of Tears park at UALR (which is part of the Coleman Creek Greenway).  The Tsa La Gi trail in Fayetteville follows the approximate route of the trail as well.  The Fort Smith National Historic site was part of the water route and has exhibits and information on the routes.  Visiting any of these locations is a great way to learn some history while you walk, hike, or bike.  The Trail also has lots of potential to be expanded and doing so would benefit the public in multiple ways.       

I'm sure I'm missing some other sections as well, so let me know about it in the comments below.


Tsa La Gi Trail in Fayetteville

Map via http://www.arkansasheritagetrails.com/tears/

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Arkansas' Roads: Dangerous By Design. We Can Do Better.

Bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in Arkansas and the United States as a whole.  We can and must do better.  Better street design, wider sidewalk, more protected bike lanes or separate trails, and lower speed limits in areas with heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic would help immensely. 

The following information was taken largely from Smart Growth America's Dangerous by Design report.  It has detailed information on pedestrian fatalities nationwide and provides policy recommendations for addressing this horrible problem.  Please read on or visit their pages to learn more about the issue and what you can do to help.

Smart Growth America - Dangerous by Design: Arkansas Report
Smart Growth America - Dangerous by Design: Fatalities Map
League of American Bicyclists Report via Bicycling.com

Here are some key quotes from the report:

"Between 2003 and 2012, 403 people were killed while walking in Arkansas, representing 6.5% of the 6,181 traffic-related fatalities in the state during this period."  (nearly 10% for the Little Rock MSA)
"Arkansas’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 79.98, which places it 14th nationally."
"40.6% of these people were killed on arterial roads, which are eligible to receive federal funding for construction or improvement, with federal design guidance or oversight."
"Over that decade, 73.4% of pedestrian deaths occurred on roadways with a speed limit of 40 mph or higher. 3.3% were on streets with a posted speed limit under 30 mph and just 0.8% of pedestrians died on streets with a speed limit of 20 mph or lower."
Speed limits have a major impact on fatality rates in bike accidents as well and Americans are 3-5 times more likely to die while biking than their Western European counterparts.  This is largely due to speed limits on roads that bikes share with cars and with the lack of protected/separate bike lanes in the United States.
Here are screenshots of the fatalities map for Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Arkansas' Other Trails: Altus Wine Trail

In a fitting follow-up to my piece on the Ale Trail, I will cover Arkansas' wine trail.  Depending who you ask, the wine trail just includes 4 wineries around Altus or pretty much any winery in the state.  I tend to disagree with the growing trend of just connecting every business in a certain category in Arkansas and calling it a trail (a 600 mile Cheese Dip Trail, really?), so I will focus on the Altus route.

The Altus Wine Trail is about 4.3 miles one-way and would be a somewhat hilly bike ride.  If Altus or the wineries got serious about promoting this trail, it looks like you could make it a more scenic walk/mountain bike by connecting Chateau Aux Arc to the dirt road just to the west that loops down to Wiederkehr (see map below). From there it is just about a mile and a half to Post and nearby Mount Bethel. You might even be able to find an alternate route down the hill to avoid 186, but I have no idea what the property boundaries look like there.

I'm not a wine expert, so if you have strong feelings about any of the wineries below let me know in the comments!

Chateau Aux Arc - This is one of the newer wineries and in my opinion it has the best landscaping and
nicest grounds.  If you are a fan of having picnics at wineries, this would be my choice.  I've only been twice and the first time they didn't have many wines to choose from, saying the grapes struggled the previous year.  On our more recent visit, they had a good selection and I liked the fact that most of their wines use grapes grown on site and I believe all their wines use grapes grown in Arkansas.  They also do a lot with American/native grapes and have strong sustainability goals.  Their Dragonfly Red was my favorite.

Wiederkehr - Opened in 1880, Wiederkehr basically pioneered the wine industry in Arkansas. The distinct architecture makes this a great place to visit and there is a restaurant on site.  I like their muscadine red wine (classy right?) and am a sucker for native grapes.  My only complaint about this place is that parts of it are in need of updating or renovation.

Post Winery - Post Winery has a nice tasting room and their tour is interesting since St. John boxed wine is produced here as well. I am not a white wine person, so I could be way off on this, but I think they have the best selection of white wines along the Altus Wine Trail.

Mt. Bethel - I think I've been, but I don't remember anything useful.  I'll be sure to add more after I visit again.  I think they have a wide selection of fruit wines.

For a complete list of wineries in the state, visit http://arkansasgrown.org/ or http://www.arkansas.com/




View Altus Wine Trail in a larger map

Links:
http://www.wiederkehrwines.com/
http://www.mountbethel.com/
http://www.chateauauxarc.com/
http://www.postfamilie.com/
http://americaswinetrails.com/wineries-on-trail-overview/?t_id=275
http://www.arkansas.com/places-to-go/trips-trails/detail.aspx?id=faf6c758-33ea-4963-9042-43aca4cd4d0b




Sunday, August 3, 2014

Arkansas' Other Trails: Fayetteville Ale Trail

Arkansas has lots of "trails" that use the word quite differently from how I typically employ it on this site.  Many of these trails relate to my kind of trails and some don't, at least as far as I can tell.  This post is hopefully just the first of many on Arkansas' Other Trails.

The Fayetteville Ale Trail is a recent invention that highlights the recent boom in micro-breweries in Northwest Arkansas.  In the three short years that I've been here we went from having one or two to seven or eight (depending how you count).  I started with this Other Trail, since it has a great connection to Fayetteville's trail system and the Razorback Greenway.  Several breweries are within a few blocks of the trail and I think that number is sure to grow as both the trails and numbers of breweries continue to expand.

Starting from the south and working north, here is a list of breweries near the trail followed by the rest that are considered part of the Ale Trail.

Tanglewood Branch - Located near 15th and School in Fayetteville, Tanglewood is not far from the southern terminus of the Razorback Greenway.  They have special deals for bicyclists and even have a bike tune-up night.  In fact, they have an event for every night of the week ranging from bacon to trivia.  They have a pool table and tons of old school board games.  They also serve coffee drinks and some food.  One thing I really like about Tanglewood is that even though they brew their own beers, they still serve several other local beers.

West Mountain Brewing Company - Located on the square in downtown Fayetteville, West Mountain is a bit off (and uphill of) the trail, but the fact that it combines two of my favorite things into what is my favorite post-backpack meal makes it worth the effort.  Yes, this brewery is located inside of Tiny Tim's Pizza.  Both the beer and the pizza are delicious.

HogHaus - HogHaus is no longer considered part of the official Ale Trail (I think it has to do with who does their brewing now?) but it is near the trail on Dickson and their beers are tasty, so I've included them here.

Fossil Cove Brewing Co. - This is my personal favorite of the local breweries due to the great atmosphere and incredible brews.  Located just a couple blocks from the trail, they have a very popular trivia night typically accompanied by a food truck. Try the IPA3, Paleo Ale or a seasonal.

Apple Blossom - Located on East Zion Rd. near Lake Fayetteville, less than a block from the trail, this is a great place to stop on your tour to eat, drink, and recharge.

Saddlebock - Saddlebock is a bit out of the way compared to the breweries above, but they have a nice place near the river.  Their offerings and seating have apparently changed quite a bit since I last visited, so check their website for better information.

I haven't been to Core or Ozark yet, so I will wait to write a summary for them.  I have had their beers and enjoyed them.  Core is located just east of Lake Springdale / J.B. Hunt Park and will not be too far from the Razorback Greenway when the trail is completed.


http://fayettevillealetrail.com/
http://tanglewoodbranch.com/
https://www.facebook.com/tinytimspizza
http://www.hoghaus.com/new_brews.html
https://www.facebook.com/fossilcovebrewing
http://appleblossombrewing.com/
http://www.saddlebock.com/
https://www.facebook.com/corebrewery
http://www.ozarkbeercompany.com/



View Fayetteville Ale Trail in a larger map

Monday, July 28, 2014

Siloam Springs Whitewater Park

I made my second trip to the Siloam Springs Whitewater Park today and the place was packed.  There were tons of tubers and some kayakers, paddleboards, and even a guy in a canoe.  Some people (myself included) were even going over the rapids solo, but this isn't recommended.  It is especially not recommended to run/ski down the algae-covered concrete slopes of the rapids before diving into the pools beyond; a fact my hip can attest to.

The park has no lifeguards present, so life jackets are highly recommended and paddlers should wear helmets.  Safety and difficulty of the features will vary greatly with water level so be smart out there, watch your kids, and maybe watch people for a bit before you get in for the first time as there can be strong currents and eddies around the features.  During our visit, the upper feature seemed a bit safer, while the lower one seemed to frequently dump tubers out or trap them.

Also, if it is a busy day, please be be mindful of paddlers waiting to use the features.  The park is for everyone so make sure you take turns.  When we went, the paddlers seemed to realize this, but kids on tubes not so much.

The bridge right at the park on Fisher Ford is currently under construction, so be sure to approach for the north.

The city has more information, directions, and regulations at:
http://www.siloamsprings.com/

http://www.siloamsprings.com/_pdfs/Library-Parks/FAQs%20regarding%20the%20Siloam%20Springs%20Whitewater%20Recreation%20Park.pdf