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Origin of state's name: French interpretation of a Sioux word acansa, meaning downstream place.
Added to the Union in 1836
Arkansas is home to Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Sam Walton, and Johnny Cash.
What can I say about the state that hasn’t been said before? The Natural State, it more than lives up to that nickname. If you’ve ever wanted to drive to the mountains but don’t think you could manage the 12-hour drive to the Rockies then Arkansas just may be the answer. Throw a mountain bike on the back of your car and prepare for some breath-taking views. There is an abundance of state parks and hiking/biking trails scattered all over to feed your craving for the outdoors.
Devils Den State Park
This park is a little hidden gem about 25 miles south of Fayetteville. The drive there is pretty interesting after getting off the highway you will experience a very narrow road that leads to a set of switchbacks that really put the size of the Ozark mountains in to perspective. The very first trail you NEED to explore is the self-guided trail. This takes you back along the Lee Creek and provides a few spectacular views of waterfalls (can really only be seen during spring and fall), huge rock formations and even some creepy stacks of rocks that look to be from another planet!
The next trail you will want to hike before you leave is the Yellow Rock Trail. This trail begins by leading you up along some rocky cliffs giving you an up close look at the interesting rocks. You will then zig-zag your way up the cliffs and find yourself standing above where you were just minutes earlier, but that’s not even the best view. After following the trail you will end up at a massive rock overlook that provides a stunning view of the whole park and the giant hills around you.
Now it’s time to ditch those hiking boots and grab your bicycle for some thigh burning pedal pushing through a luscious green forest. The park only has one designated area for biking but provides more than enough trails for you to blaze through. You’ll find the beginning of these trails at the Fossil Flats trail and mapping your course is very easy as every trail loops back to the main one, making getting lost a very difficult thing to do (just make sure you have a map or a phone on you for emergencies!) Riding your bike allows for you to take in more of the scenery at once and the trails do provide for some pretty technical riding at some points so prepare accordingly.
Don’t be fooled by the smaller more urban setting of this park, it has provided me with some of the most mind blowing views I have experienced in Arkansas so far. The unique thing about this park is there is an abundance of signs to read along the way telling you about the plants and even some history behind the park. After parking your car in the designated lot simply follow the trail until you cross a wooden bridge and begin the giant loop by taking a right. This will take you across a few more bridges and to an old cave with a really interesting history. Keep walking unit you end up at the first wooden bridge you crossed and this time head to the left of it, this will take you to one of the coolest waterfalls in the state. It forms a staircase type waterfall that you can walk up and listen to the relaxing sounds as the water rushes past you. At the top of this waterfall, it takes an immediate right and if you keep following it up and up and up the trail ends at the Tanyard Creek Dam which is a nice place to relax before heading back down the trail.
To simply wrap this up, Arkansas is the easiest day trip to “the mountains” you could ever take and it’s guaranteed to leave you with some amazing pictures and the itch to get out and hike/bike even more. I hope this post inspires you to get out more and explore the world around us.
Blake and Pancho