Saturday, July 05, 2008

Arkansas State Parks magnificent

This summer I have decided to visit as many AR state parks as possible on daytrips. So far, I have visited Mt. Magazine, Lake Ft. Smith, Hobbs, Pinnacle, and Devil's Den. Most of these places I have visited in the past, but the tax increase levied specifically for state parks has made a dramatic difference. The new lodge at Mt. Magazine is amazing and the view from below the lodge is as beautiful a view as there is in Arkansas. I'm very happy to see the AR state park system has added St. Francis National Forest to its offerings building additional campsites at Bear Creek near Marianna. The St. Francis project the federal government never cared to improve will be a boon for east Arkansas. I practically grew up in the St. Francis National Forest and all the trails I walked were not maintained or improved (most were logging roads) and I did my fair share of trailblazing. That could be one of the gems of Arkansas and luckily the state stepped in where the federal government failed for decades. In my lifetime, I have visited, in addition to the aformentioned parks, Crater of Diamonds, DeGray, Petit Jean, Withrow Springs, Village Creek, and the Delta Heritage Trail (though at the time, fewer than the advertised 14 miles had been prepared).

Our state parks are becoming treasures that more dollars will dramatically improve. Lake Ft. Smith and Mt. Magazine are the most improved parks I've visited by far. Later this year, I hope to visit several more state parks if the fools in the White House don't exacerbate our nation's failing economy's tragic state. I've spent most of my time in the outdoors along federally protected rivers, Corps of Engineer parks, and WMAs and federal lands. The Corps really do a poor job of maintaining their sites practically everywhere I've encountered them. I haven't been as active with river trips the past two years as I was for over a decade, unfortunately. I've traveled practically every navigable river in NW Arkansas including Frog Bayou, nearly every stretch of the Buffalo beginning near Fallsville(Hailstone Creek) all the way to the the White Bufalo resort area, Mulberry River, Little Mulberry River, Little Buffalo, Big Piney, King's River, Upper (Middle, East, and West forks) and Lower White River, War Eagle Creek, Arkansas River(various stretches), Mississippi River(various stretches), St. Francis(near the mouth of the mighty Mississippi with ancient archaeological sites and a nasty swirl where it meets the great river), Spring, Illinois, Lee Creek, and a number of little swift creeks that I didn't catch the name of all of them. The prettiest river I've ever kayaked was without a doubt, Hailstone or the upper Buffalo beginning at Red Star, especially with all the water converging from the two massive creeks that empty into the main channel of the Buffalo. No prettier site, except for a novice paddler, than the beginning of the Buffalo.

Get out and visit the wonderful hiking trails, biking trails, rivers, and state parks in this beautiful state. Have a great rest of the summer!