Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nuttall Trail - Maumelle Park

This trail should have been in my last book, but when I visited briefly two summers ago after my dad told me there were trails here, I failed to spot it.  My excuse for this is that the trail is hidden away near the entrance to the park and far from the main attraction, the Arkansas River.

The Nuttall Trail, named either for the explorer/botanist Thomas Nuttall or the Nuttall Oak which is native to Arkansas and itself named after Thomas Nuttall, is a short (0.4 mi) asphalt trail that loops through a wooded section of the park.  While multiple paved and unpaved spurs provide access to the trail from several parts of the park, the main trailhead is located at the parking lot immediately to your right at the entrance station.

The trail is pretty short and not that scenic compared to those at nearby Pinnacle Mountain State Park and Two Rivers Park, but it is a nice place to take kids or a dog on a stroll if you are camping or picnicking at Maumelle Park.  

View Maumelle Park in a larger map

Coleman Creek Updates

On my way to Hindman Park yesterday, I drove through UALR to check on the Coleman Creek Greenway progress.  Having served on the greenway committee and spent lots of time helping grade and plant the Trail of Tears section at the southern end of campus, I was interested to see if the trail had been expanded.  It turns out that a lot of progress has been made since I last visited. Students can now walk along a nice, wide, tree-lined pedestrian path from 28th St. to Asher Ave. or in other words the full length of the main part of campus; which is an important milestone in terms of the utilitarian value of the trail to students.

The original concept for this trail wasn't just to provide an improved experience for students walking to class from Lot 13 or the dorms.  When complete, the trail will stretch over three miles from Markham at the north end of War Memorial Park down to Fourche Creek near Mabelvale Pike where it could connect to other trails in the area coming in from Hindman Park, Fourche Bottoms, or the former BFI landfill.  Running along both sides of the creek in some sections, the trail will connect areas of residential, recreational, academic, and commercial uses and provide a scenic and healthy alternative transportation route for people looking to avoid driving on University Ave.

More articles on Coleman Creek.

Current Coleman Creek Greenway
View Coleman Current in a larger map

Future Coleman Creek Greenway
View Coleman Creek Greenway in a larger map

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hindman Park Trails

Today I visited Hindman Park to see how the trails there are coming along.  From the parking lot at the north end of the park, we hiked northeast along the unpaved trail that parallels Fourche Creek.  That trail is a bit over a mile long and ends at University Ave.  Coming back, we took a side trail to look at the rocky outcrop  that some people climb on.  A nice gravel trail with switchbacks has been completed leading up to the rock.

Hindman Park is part of a massive area of contiguous greenspace in the heart of Little Rock.  It is my hope that the Hindman Park trails will be improved and connected to the old Western Hills Country Club, BFI landfill (it is closed and should soon become a park), Fourche Bottoms, Coleman Creek Greenway, Interstate Park, and the Audubon Nature Center.  A map and description of what this would look like can be seen here.

A more detailed map and description of the trails in this area can be found in Trails of Central Arkansas.

View Hindman Park Trails in a larger map

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bike-Friendly Role Models

Though several cities in Arkansas claim to be bike-friendly and even have signs to prove it, anyone who has traveled much or lived elsewhere knows we have a long ways to go. I once read an article that ranked the Little Rock/North Little Rock metropolitan area as the 49th most bike friendly city in America. My excitement at this statistic quickly dwindled after the author explained that in reality the top 50 were mostly in California and Oregon, but he wanted to cover more of the country.

So what is an Arkansan to do if they want more bike trails, protected bike lanes, a bike share, and more bike parking?

1. Get active in the bike community.  Join Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas (BACA) or Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks (BCO).

2. Be visible.  Bike to work or the grocery store.  Go to city council or other community meetings and let them know you bike and want better bicycle infrastructure.

3.  Talk to your elected representatives at all levels.  Provide them with examples of good transportation bills or bicycle master plans.  Talk about what features other great cities have that ours lack.  Does your town have an official Bicycle or Alternative Transportation Committee?  How about a master plans for bicycles and trails?  Are local laws regarding bikes actually safe?  Ohio passed a state-level bill after finding that roughly half of all communities surveyed mandated one or more unsafe biking practices.

4.  Learn the law and bike safely!

5.  Advocate for zoning and development laws that discourage sprawl, encourage higher density infill, and reflect the values of New Urbanism which create conditions more favorable for biking and decrease the need for car trips.

Examples of good statewide, regional, and local bike plans and laws.
Read what makes some of the best bike cities great.
Learn about the rapid growth (elsewhere) of protected bike lanes and why separate lanes and trails are best.
See what Montreal has in terms of bike infrastructure.
Protected Intersections are a good idea too.

Let me know of any other resources I missed using the comment form below.

Protected Bike Lane - Indianapolis

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gregory Park - Fayetteville

Gregory Park is a mostly undeveloped park located in the center of Fayetteville, off of Sycamore St. between College and Woolsey Ave.  While mostly wooded, it does have a gazebo and some picnic tables.  The roughly 1 mile of trails here are highly eroded in places and the woods are packed with invasive species like bush honeysuckle, privet, and assorted vines, but this is a great local neighborhood park and would be nice for students from nearby schools to use for short nature hikes. Parking is located off of Sycamore behind the McDonalds.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mt. Kessler Revisited

I've now been back to Mt. Kessler four times.  Rather than blog about each trip or awkwardly edit my original post about a particular visit, I decided to create this entry which will serve as my all-encompassing piece on Mt. Kessler.  The map below shows all the trails I've covered in the area, but I don't think it is complete yet.  Here is a list of things I think are interesting about Mt. Kessler Greenways followed by some photos:

1.  Rock City - This area of interesting rock formations is not far from the trailhead and is probably the highlight of the hike for most visitors.  The trail follows a thin crevice between sheer, intricately textured, rock outcroppings.

2.  Great views - From different parts of the trail, you can see way off to the west and east.  In a couple places the trail follows a ridge, offering views simultaneously in both directions.

3.  Dwarf Oaks - The somewhat open area where trails split off in all directions is quite rocky and has very little soil.  These conditions have fostered dwarf oaks similar to those found on Black Fork Mountain near Queen Wilhelmena State Park.  To be clear, these aren't naturally shorter Blackjack Oaks, they are oak varieties that are typically much taller and less stocky.  Hey, it's interesting to me.

4.  Fossils -  I hesitated to add this one and may remove it if I see or hear of problems.  Let me first say I've been informed by a professional paleontologist that none of the fossils I've seen so far are rare or valuable.  In other words, look at them and leave them for everyone else to look at.  They will still be there next time you go!

5.  Solitude - Obviously it'd be great if more people found out about Mt. Kessler, registered, and starting visiting this incredible place located so close to the heart of Fayetteville; but I've never seen many people on my visits.

Rock City, Mt. Kessler
Rock City