Sunday, February 26, 2012

Buffalo River - Tyler Bend to Gilbert

Some friends and I took advantage of the incredibly warm February weekend we just had and went floating on the Buffalo.  We left one car at Gilbert and took two inflatable kayaks and a normal kayak up the road to Tyler Bend.  The gate to the main access area was closed, so we took the gravel road to the smaller put-in just upstream.  After unloading all our gear, five friends and an apprehensive puppy set sail on a sunny Sunday.  Though the water was incredibly cold, it was perfect in terms of quantity (limited scrapping, no dragging), clarity (very high), and color (brilliant light blue).  I don't want to bore you with all the details, but highlights of the ~3 hour float included: no one spilling into the the freezing water, lots of rocks being successfully skipped, our dog not being super scared for most of his first float, seeing lots of kingfishers and non-shy turtles, and having the river largely to ourselves; something unheard of for this stretch during warmer months of the year.

This section of the Buffalo is great because the shuttle between put-ins is short and you can pick between floats of almost any length between 1 and 6 miles by using different combinations of put-ins at Tyler Bend, Grinder's Ferry, Shine Eye, and Gilbert.

If you ever find yourself in the area during bad floating conditions, check out some of the trails at Tyler Bend.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trails at UCA

I recently read an article about the Jewel E. Moore Trail at the University of Central Arkansas.  Since I'm living in Fayetteville now, I sent a skilled field reporter, aka my older sister, who happens to be taking some graduate classes there to investigate.  I ended up getting a ton of great information for my money ($0, though if you are reading this, I can reimburse gas).

UCA has nearly 3 miles of trail that range greatly with respect to width, material, and scenery.   You can view an official map here and a detailed description of the trail here.  Not surprisingly, the two nicest sections of the trail are the ones that run through more natural areas of the campus, though these trails can be (and today were) wet and muddy in places.  These easy, fairly level trails have lots of benches if you need to take a break or just want to soak up some nature.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pinnacle Mountain State Park Updates

While at Devil's Den State Park today, I ran into Joe Jacobs of Arkansas Outside and he told me about some newish mountain biking trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.  I hope to visit them soon and will post maps here when I do, but the map below shows where the trailheads are.  The Rabbit Ridge Trail is a fairly short and easy trail for beginners, while I'm told the Jack Fork Trail is more technical and much longer at ~7 miles.  Both are located along Pinnacle Mountain State Park Rd. on the way to the Visitors Center.  The Quarry Trail and the Ouachita Trail have trailheads nearby.  A detailed map of the trails can be viewed here.

Devil's Den Updates

Today I was out at Devil's Den State Park as part of a IMBA Trail Building Course.  After learning some good trail design/building tips, we got in some real world practice rerouting the trail from the Visitors Center down to Devils Den Trail near the creek.  Now that the new section of trail is complete, get out there and enjoy it and the rest of the great trails in the park!  If you want to learn some trail building tips check out my Building Trails page or IMBA's online resources and books.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two Rivers Park Updates

On my quick trip to Little Rock this weekend, I visited Two Rivers Park which, with the recent completion of the new bridge, has become very, very, popular.  If you don't know, Two Rivers Park is a large city/county park in West Little Rock bounded by the Arkansas River and the Little Maumelle.  In addition to being a great place to paddle, hike, bike, bird, and ride horses, the park also has a massive community garden where you can rent plots.

The park has miles of paved and unpaved trails that travel through a variety of habitats.  The Garden of Trees in the southern half of the park will one day be a formally landscaped setting where "rooms" of different tree species turn different colors in the fall.  I helped plant a lot of the trees out there many years ago, and know first-hand that the huge deer population in the park is severely stunting the growth of the trees in this garden.

The two updates I have to share on the park are:
1)  Be mindful of locking your car and what you leave in your vehicles when parking at the Two Rivers Bridge or the Big Dam Bridge.  Break-ins are more common at those parking areas than they should be.
2)  There is a new bike lane/bike trail from Two Rivers to Maumelle Park.  I believe the idea is for this to one day continue all the way to Pinnacle Mountain State Park.  The bike lane runs along County Farm Rd. from the park entrance to Pinnacle Valley Rd.  From there, there are 5-6' wide asphalt paths along both sides of Pinnacle Valley Rd. all the way to Maumelle Park.  As I wrote earlier, these are much safer than bike lanes.

Detailed maps and descriptions of Two Rivers Park, Pinnacle Mountain State Park, the Little Maumelle River, and lots of other great places in Central Arkansas can be found in Trails of Central Arkansas.