According to the City of North Little Rock website, “Burns Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the state with more than 1600 acres of tennis courts, multi-use unpaved trails, multi-use paved trails, dog park, multiple sport complexes (soccer, golf, tennis, disc golf, pickleball, baseball, and softball), amusement park, playgrounds, pavilions, covered bridge, archery range, rv campgrounds, WWII tank, Union Pacific caboose, club houses, and more. This park is one of five contiguous parks along the Arkansas River.”
The website goes on to say, “On March 31, 2023, a tornado passed through the park causing significant damage to several areas of the park. We have cleared the debris and are reopening the park as we can.”
On November 9, the City of North Little Rock announced on its Facebook page that they were, “…pleased to announce the opening of the top loop around Funland Drive in Burns Park.” Reading further through the post, the city mentions that the park is again open to equestrian use. The equestrians would need to park their trailers in the softball field parking lots north of I-40 and cross the bridge on Joe K. Poch Drive to use the “Equestrian Trails.” Years ago, we were made aware that all natural surface trails within Burns Park are considered multi-use trails meaning, they could be used by bicycles, pedestrians (hikers and trail runners), and horses.
This left me to wonder which trails they meant by “Equestrian Trails” and why they would only be open to horse riders and not mountain bikers and hikers.
I called the North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department last week but with the upcoming holiday (Veterans Day) I was told there wouldn’t be anyone in the office who could answer these questions until this week. Today I was able to reach Jessie Morgan, the Parks Director’s assistant and Jeff Caplinger, a Special Project Coordinator for the parks.
Ms. Morgan said that the reason the trails were only opened to horseback riding was because of the lack of local riding facilities that were safe during the Fall hunting season. Mr. Caplinger said that he wasn’t sure which trails were currently open to horseback riders and that the city was working on sorting that out. He will make an announcement as soon as he has more information.
I did ask about plans for the multi-use trails at Burns Park and was told that Bert Turner, a local volunteer and member of Central Arkansas Master Naturalists was working with park staff to see which trails could be rebuilt and which ones would need to be moved.