You may have seen me on KATV 7 – Good Morning Arkansas (video at the link) this morning taking Ansley Watson on a quick float on the Little Maumelle River at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I thought you might want to know more about this and other paddling opportunities in Central Arkansas. These floats are fun, easy, and accessible to almost anyone.
Before we get started, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) maintain a great list of safety, ethics, and laws pertaining to canoeing and kayaking on its website. It’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with these.
Local Water Trails
The AGFC has a full list of designated water trails in Arkansas. This is a great place to start looking for your local water trail. There are several in Central Arkansas:
- Little Maumelle River Trail – This is the one featured on Good Morning Arkansas. Little Maumelle River has no rapids, but high water can create dangerous conditions around trees. Paddling downstream and returning from Pinnacle Mountain State Park Access is possible at normal water levels. Paddling upstream is possible from Two Rivers Park Access, William Kirsch Preserve at Ranch North Woods, or River Mountain Park Access. According to the AGFC site, “Watch for wading birds, ospreys, bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, migrating waterfowl and warblers. Beavers, white-tailed deer, raccoons and opossums are common along the water. Harmless broadbanded water snakes, an occasional alligator, and several species of turtles live along the river.”
- Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail – Start at Benny Craig Park and paddle to Interstate Park: 4.4 miles. Or you can head upstream from Interstate Park Access for a scenic, out-and-back paddle into Fourche Bottoms. Fourche Creek continues to support a diverse population of plants and animals. It is lined with bald cypress and water tupelo trees. Look for migratory songbirds such as prothonotary warblers during spring, and wood ducks in fall and winter. Beaver, mink, and otter forage in the creek.
- Sleepy Hollow Water Trail – Located just off Highway 10 west of Lake Maumelle, this portion of the Maumelle River usually is a flat-water float. However, heavy rain and high water can create dangerous conditions. Paddlers may explore upstream into Bringle Creek and the Maumelle River (rocky riffles and downed trees eventually block the route) and downstream to the Arkansas Highway 10 bridge. Canoes and kayaks may be used only in the area of the lake west of the Arkansas Highway 10 bridge. Watch for wading birds, ospreys, bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, migrating waterfowl, and songbirds. Beaver and river otters can be spotted foraging along the river among bald cypress and tupelo trees.
- Grassy Lake Water Trail – Grassy Lake Greentree Reservoir is a wetland with seasonal paddling. Water is held during winter to provide a habitat for waterfowl and released during spring to avoid damage to hardwood trees. Always keep a trail marker in sight; the route is not always distinct. Cypress-tupelo lakes and sloughs provide excellent opportunities to see wildlife. Watch for nesting herons in spring – along with migrating songbirds – and listen for gobbling wild turkeys. This area is rich in reptile and amphibian life, from cottonmouths to harmless water snakes. Listen for booming calls of bullfrogs and the high-pitched chorus of spring peepers, while beavers sun atop lodges. Migrating waterfowl such as mallards, northern shovelers, and gadwalls stop during their travels as well.
If you’d like to start out with flatwater or lake paddling. There are several options for you. Some of our favorites include Lake Bennett at Woolly Hollow State Park in Greenbrier and Lake Sylvia west of Little Rock in Perry County.
Boat Rental Options
Don’t have a boat? If you don’t have someone to borrow one most state parks with water access have boats for rental including Pinnacle Mountain State Park and Woolly Hollow State Park mentioned above. If you’d like to float with an experienced leader, watch the state park calendar of events for paddling trips.
Rock Town River Outfitters in Little Rock also has boat rental and leads various paddling trips in the area including sunset floats.