Monday, October 31, 2011

River Trail Updates

The River Trail is coming closer and closer to completion.  About a month ago the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge (Rock Island Bridge) was opened to the public, connecting the eastern end of the River Trail with a bridge that doesn't require bikers to compete with cars (Main St.) or take several flights of stairs (Junction Bridge).
Near the recently completed bridge, a nice new boardwalk has opened to take visitors through the William E. Clark Presidential Wetlands.  Visitors to the wetlands can learn about native plants and wildlife, while taking in nice views of the Arkansas River and downtown Little Rock.  Herons, beavers, large turtles, and massive fish can all be seen from the boardwalk.   
I was also very excited to see that Metroplan paid for plans to be drawn up for the final segment of the River Trail connecting Riverdale to Downtown.  This section of the trail currently follows unattractive roads and tiny sidewalks through western downtown Little Rock making it the least safe and least aesthetically pleasing section of the trail.  As someone who is very proud of Little Rock, this stretch of the trail has long been a source of embarrassment and shame for me given that North Little Rock stole our concerts, our baseball games, and now they have the most complete and most beautiful sections of the River Trail.
Sadly, the article about the new plans mentions that the right-of-way has not been finalized and that funding has yet to be located, meaning I may have to be embarrassed for Little Rock for a few more years to come.

Photos and map below the fold.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Scull Creek-Mud Creek-Gulley Park Loop

Today I went on a ride with a friend. We wanted something shorter than the ride out to Lake Wedington and we've already been up to Lake Fayetteville, so we decided to explore a bit.  We ended up going up Scull Creek Trail, past Gordon Long Park (that I hope to explore soon), to the Mud Creek Trail, and south on Old Missouri Rd.  From there we took a short detour down the Raven Trail which is pretty short, but passes through a scenic area and by some really nice homes.
From the Raven Trail, we continued south on Old Missouri Rd., took a right on Old Wire, and biked around the Gulley Park Trails.  We then backtracked back a bit to take Rolling Hills Dr. and Appleby Rd. back to the Scull Creek Trail since those roads are much flatter than Township St. or North St.  To make more a loop next time, I might try continuing down Old Wire Rd. to Lafayette.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bikes on Campus at UA Fayetteville

If you bike or would like to bike on campus at the University of Arkansas, make sure you read this carefully.  UA, according to its master plan, wants to be a bike-friendly campus where students have the option to bike, walk, and/or take the bus everywhere they need to go.  If you have been on campus recently, you know they aren't quite there yet and thanks to all the new students and construction, biking on campus might not improve drastically for a few years to come.
There are, however, some things you can do to help improve biking on campus.
1.  Register your bike with the university.  If you don't have a bike, get one and then register it.  If you don't want to buy one, borrow one from the school's Razorbikes program.  Registering your bike or taking advantage of the Razorbikes program will let the university know students are using bikes on campus and that they need places to both park, and ride, those bikes.
2. Let people know what the problems are with biking on campus.  If you are on Facebook, check-out the UARK Bicycle Infrastructure Group.  Leave a message/comment on where more bike racks are needed or where it would be nice to have a bike lane or path.
3.  Volunteer.  In order to make efficient use of limited funds, the university needs good data on bike usage on campus.  If you want to help collect this data, leave a comment on here or any of the other pages linked to in this blog and someone will get in touch with you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crystal Bridges Trail

Bentonville has a nice network of road and mountain biking trails.  Yesterday, Angela and I made our first pilgrimage to the city that Walmart built.  We parked in the square, walked by the original Walmart, sampled popsicles, ate at the delicious and fancy Tusk and Trotter, and then got on our bikes.
We quickly reached Compton Gardens after heading north on A St.  Where the paved trail forks, we took the Art Trail to the right.  This trail is short, but has some interesting sights and another plus for the botanically oriented like myself, the trees and shrubs are labeled.  This trail currently dead-ends at the southern entrance to the museum, so we turned around and backtracked to the Crystal Bridges Trail.  After turning right on the trail, we followed it through the woods for a while, stopping at the construction viewing platform and some of the sculptures along the path.  One slightly shocking thing I noticed, is that there is a dirt path paralleling the paved trail that is not just used by, but is actually intended for mountain bikers.  Pretty cool for a trail named after a museum!
After the museum area, the paved trail passes a wastewater treatment plant and runs along a road.  Where the trail borders the road, it is separated by a concrete barrier.  Way to go Bentonville.  As I made clear in another blog entry, this is the only way to make a bike lane on a road truly safe.
For the next mile or two, the paved trail is surround by tons of mountain biking trails and courses.  We stopped for a break near the northern most marker on the map below to watch lots of mountain bikers whiz around a fun looking course.
From there we followed the trail west then south past a new-looking dog park with a restroom and parking area.  We then followed the Blue Route, which simply followed some roads back to the square.  Had we known that, we might have just taken the trail back.

Rim Rock Nature Trail - Beaver Lake

Last night, Angela and I camped at the Prairie Creek Public Use Area on Beaver Lake, after failing to find a spot Saturday. This morning, we decided to hike the Rim Rock Nature Trail, located in the eastern part of the park, before heading home.  As is the case with many trails in Arkansas at this time of year, it was overgrown in many places and we eventually gave up about halfway through due to fears of ticks and chiggers.  The trail passed along an interesting little bluff (Rim Rock I'm guessing) and provided views of the lake.  There were numbers on a few trees which made me think this trail was initially a self-guided nature trail.  I bet the trail is great in the winter, especially for people looking for some real nature time in a largely over-developed, RV focused, campground.

Devil's Den Trail - Devil's Den State Park

This Saturday, after finding out all the campsites in Northwest Arkansas were full, some friends and I decided to do a short hike at Devil's Den State Park.  We parked at the visitor center and hopped on the Devil's Den Trail, a short 1.5 mi. trail that passes some interesting geological features including caves and deep fissures.  These features also tend to have great names like Devil's Icebox and, of course, Devil's Den.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lake Fayetteville

Today Angela and I took our bikes to Lake Fayetteville for a late afternoon bike ride.  We parked at the Botanical Garden located off Crossover Rd. (see map below).  From there we rode north along the paved trail, following the route on the map.  There are a few small hills along the trail, but nothing too crazy.  This trail is quite scenic and right now the sumac and sassafras are in their fall colors.  The views from the dam and bridge, located at the western end of the trail, are really nice.  The one slight negative of this trail is that you have to share the road with cars for a short while on Lake Fayetteville Rd.