Tuesday, March 31, 2015

North Twin - Lake Wedington National Recreation Area

Updated 4/10/15. Info here based on two trips.

Today I made an all too familiar mistake by biting off more than I could chew on a hike. I thought I'd be doing 7-10 miles on a cool, cloudy, spring day and ended up doing 11 miles on a super sunny 80 degree day. Hopefully this sunburned neck, battered feet, and sore hips will make me wiser next time. 

The Lake Wedington Recreation Area is located 13 miles west of Fayetteville on Hwy 16. The lake offers swimming and fishing and the fee area has cabins, picnic sites, restrooms, and campsites. There are two short sections of trail along the lakeshore that are mostly flat. The much more strenuous North Twin Trail is 8.5 miles one-way and located outside the fee area.

I'll have a much more detailed description in my next book, but this is a great trail. It has great views, interesting rock features, and a spring. You can break it into more manageable pieces since it crosses forest roads several times. The northernmost 3 miles can be turned into a loop using the road, saving you some miles and time, and prevents having to backtrack.

Eagle Watch Nature Area - Gentry

Update 3/14/2017: This article details some new features at the Nature Area.

The Eagle Watch Nature Area is located on the property of SWEPCO’s Flint Creek power plant about 1.2 mi. west of Gentry off Hwy 12. The parking area is a little tricky to spot so be on the lookout for the Eagle Watch Nature Trail sign and the gravel parking lot near a bridge.

The nature area features a butterfly garden, educational signage, and a short flat nature trail that was built by volunteers. The area is also an Audubon IBA and is definitely good for bird watching. The main draw are the Bald Eagles in winter, but I saw double-crested cormorants, herons, blue birds, several kinds of woodpeckers, red-winged black birds, and more.

From the parking area, the wide, mulch trail heads southwest along Little Flint Creek. Numerous species of preexisting and planted native trees have been labeled here, which is something I personally love.

After about 250 yards, the trail turns to the left near some benches and large red oaks, hackberry, and black walnut trees.

A little after the turn, you’ll come to a gate. A small branch of the trail forks off to the left before and another right after the gate. All options lead to the pavilion but sticking to the right on the main trail will get you there the fastest with the best view of the lake.

Once at the pavilion, sign the register and look out at the lake. When you are done there, take one of the smaller trails through the woods to see more tree species. When I went in late March the Mayapples and Trillium were about to bloom.

More information on the nature area can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SWEPCOEagleWatch

Monday, March 30, 2015

Short Trails at Hobbs State Park - Conservation Area

I am working on a Trails of Northwest Arkansas book with a focus on trails in and near the major population centers in the area. Hobbs State Park is a major recreational resource for the area and the state as a whole so it will be included. I'm still trying to figure out how to tackle the 24 mile Hidden Diversity Trail and hiking the 8.4 mile Pigeon Roost Trail will take a little planning. In the meantime, I decided to go knock out some of the shorter trails the park has to offer.

Shaddox Hollow -
This 1.5 mile trail goes through some interesting terrain and has some real elevation change. The trailhead (located off 303 near Rocky Branch) has a primitive bathroom. The most interesting features of this trail are two small caves/bluffs with springs that are around half a mile down the trail if hiking it clockwise. Blue blazes lead off down a short spur trail to the lake.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Benefits of Density

Little Rock has a low population density compared to most cities in the United States (and elsewhere). This is true for the majority of cities in Arkansas. How does this relate to trails you might ask? Read on.

I've created maps of Little Rock showing how much smaller the city limits would be if the city had the same population density as other well-known cities. Bear in mind that density and population statistics vary widely depending on methodology (e.g. use of city or MSA boundaries, or population data from the 2010 Census or more recent estimates). For the maps below, I used proper city limits and 2010 census data.