Friday, June 8, 2012

Longest Trails In Arkansas

As a child, I was fascinated by skyscrapers and remember regularly checking lists of the tallest buildings in the world.  Cities and nations place lots of value on having the tallest buildings and see them, and skylines packed with them, as symbols of power and wealth.  In fact, the publicity and pride that accompany constructing the world's new tallest building, has lead to a long-running competition for the title, first between US cities and now the countries of the world.

It is my hope that posting a list of the longest trails in Arkansas and updating it every year or so might help spur a little friendly competition here in our state.  One thing I remember was that there were lots of ways to measure building height; antennae included or excluded, spires or no spires, do towers count, etc.  This is an issue with trails as well, given that some trails are paved, others are dirt, some are well-maintained, while others aren't, and some trails simply follow an existing road for some sections.

Below is my list of longest trails in Arkansas, let me know if I missed any or if you disagree with the rankings:
Ozark Highlands Trail - 240 mi. (Includes 20 mi. Buffalo River Trail and ~10 road mi.)
Ouachita Trail - 214 mi. Almost entirely unpaved dirt trail.
River Trail  - 88 mi. - Main loop is 14 paved, 2 on roads.  Larger plan is primarily on roads, sometimes without bike lanes.
Razorback Greenway (Proposed, Partially Completed) - 36 mi. Paved.  Roughly half-completed, mostly as Scull Creek, Mud Creek, and Frisco Trails in Fayetteville.
Burns Park Complex - ~15 mi. of interconnected and mostly unpaved hiking and mountain biking trails that connect to the River Trail.
Mississippi River Trail - ~290 mi.  I believe this bike trail is entirely along roads for the Arkansas section. Let me know if that's wrong!

So which is the longest?  I personally give little credit to just calling a stretch of road a trail, so I lean towards calling the OHT the longest followed very closely by the Ouachita Trail.  For the same reason, the Razorback Greenway will be longer than the River Trail in my book unless Central Arkansas puts in some serious bike lanes, or better yet, a separate paved trail along the designated roadways.

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