Mark your calendars for what should be a great weekend in the Ozarks. The Arkansas Trails Council will be hosting the 2015 Arkansas Trails Symposium on July 17-19 at Blanchard Springs Recreation Area near Mountain View. Great speakers are lined up to talk about Arkansas trails and trail projects. There will also be camping, guided cave tours—including, if you choose, a “Wild Cave Tour”—and a choice of a mountain bike ride on the Syllamo Trail or a shuttled hike on the North Sylamore Creek Trail. This year’s Arkansas Trails Symposium, the first one organized since the 1970s, marks the 40th anniversary since the inaugural event held in 1975.
For those who plan to camp on Friday and/or Saturday, fees will be waived at the group camping area at Blanchard Springs Recreation Area.
On Saturday, July 18, there will be a short Arkansas Trails Council quarterly meeting; distribution of the Arkansas Trails Council annual trail awards; cave tours; and featured speakers including:
- Ken Smith, long-time conservationist and trail builder of much of the Buffalo National River trail system including the Buffalo River Trail, to speak about the history and future of the Buffalo National River Trail System;
- Jacque Alexander, member of the Buffalo River Chapter of Arkansas Back Country Horsemen and national director of Back County Horsemen of America, to speak about the Buffalo National River Horse Trails;
- Sarah and Frank Webber, founding members of the Friends of the Syllamo, to speak on the Syllamo Trail history and the ambitious plans to connect it to the Mountain View town square and the Ozark Folk Center State Park;
- Debbie Doss, from the Arkansas Canoe Club, co-creator of many of the Arkansas River Trails, and chair of the Arkansas Trails Council, to speak on efforts to create a—what would be a spectacular—long distance water trail down the White River, including in and out of the swamps of the massive Lower White River wildlands;
- Kevin Goodwin, the wildlife biological technician for the Ozark-St.Francis National Forest Sylamore Ranger District, to give a presentation about feral hogs, what damage they do and what is being done to counteract them;
- James R. McCoy, district ranger for the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Sylamore District,to give a welcome address;
- Local speakers;
On Sunday, July 19, a choice of three activities will be provided:
- A mountain bike ride on the IMBA “Epic”-designated Syllamo Trail (participants must bring their own bicycles);
- A shuttled hike on the North Sylamore Creek Trail (for either nine or five miles) along one of Arkansas’s National Wild and Scenic Rivers;
- A Wild Cave Tour (fee applies for this activity) [NOTE: Make reservations through the ATC prior to the symposium], which is a several-hour, guided wild tour deep into Blanchard Springs Caverns.
Many of these activities (cave tours and some speakers) will be indoors during the warmest hours of the day. The Arkansas Trails Council is honored that Blanchard Springs and the Sylamore Ranger District will be the site of our first re-establishment of the Arkansas Trails Symposium.
The Arkansas Trails Council provides a unifying voice for the trails community across Arkansas. It brings together people and resources with an interest in the development, expansion, use, and maintenance of trails in Arkansas. It provides a public forum for members of the trails community and serves as an organized voice for trails advocacy within the state. The ATC promotes trails awareness, trail usage, and trail education within the population in general, and it serves as a proactive advocate for development and use of trails in Arkansas. It is concerned with trails regardless of user group (i.e., foot trails, bicycle trails, equestrian trails, water trails, off road vehicle trails, or multi-purpose trails) or primary purpose
(i.e., recreation, health /exercise, watchable wildlife, history). For additional information, visit the ATC website at: http://www.arkansastrailscouncil.com/.
Friday, July 17
Camping at Blanchard Springs Recreation Area Campground
Saturday, July 18
Blanchard Springs Amphitheater
10 a.m.-11 a.m. Arkansas Trails Council Summer Quarterly Meeting, James R. McCoy, Sylamore District Ranger, Ozark-St. Francis National Forest – Welcome
11:10 a.m.-11:40 a.m. Local Speakers
11:50 a.m.-12:40 p.m. Jacque Alexander, member of the Buffalo River Chapter of Arkansas Back Country Horsemen and national director of Back County Horsemen of America – Buffalo River Horse Trails
12:40 p.m.-3:50 p.m. Lunch and Cave Tours
Blanchard Springs Visitor Center Theater
4 p.m.-4:50 p.m. Sarah and Frank Webber, founding members of Friends of the Syllamo – Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail
5 p.m.-5:50 p.m. Debbie Doss, from the Arkansas Canoe Club, co-creator of many of the Arkansas River Trails, and chair of the Arkansas
Trails Council – White River Water Trail
Blanchard Springs Amphitheater
7:20 p.m.-7:50 p.m. Kevin Goodwin, Wildlife Biological Technician – Feral Hogs
8 p.m.-8:50 p.m. Ken Smith, Buffalo River Trail Creator – Buffalo River Trail, Buffalo National River
Sunday, July 19
- Mountain bike ride on the Syllamo Trail (Participants must bring their own bicycles)
- Hike on the North Sylamore Creek Trail [Participants will be shuttled to the choice of Gunner Pool (five miles) or Barkshed (nine miles) and hike back to Blanchard Springs Campground]
- Wild Cave Tour (Fees apply)