A preliminary public meeting will be held in Mena, Arkansas to present an initial concept for a trails project. The meeting involves both the Arkansas State Parks (ASP) and the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation (APRF) leading us to believe that this will be a mountain bike focused trail project. ASP and APRF have been the driving force behind the Monument Trails currently hosted in four Arkansas state parks.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is located approximately 13 miles north of Mena atop Rich Mountain, at 2,681 feet tall, and is the second-highest mountain in Arkansas. Among the park amenities available are a state-of-the-art lodge, restaurant, and campground. The park is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and accessed via the Talimina Scenic Highway.
Current mountain bike trails in the area include Earthquake Ridge, a rugged trail system in the national forest that has hosted numerous Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series (AMBCS) events in the past. A volunteer group (Mena Open Trail Alliance) that was created a few years ago with the support of Central Arkansas Trail Alliance, has recently been constructing a small trail system in Mena. The section of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail starting near the park and continuing over 100 miles to Highway 7 allows mountain biking and is an International Mountain Bicycling Association, Epic Trail garnering national attention.
The area is also a popular road cycling destination featuring the challenging Talimena Scenic Highway which also plays host to the Wheel-A-Mena bicycle event.
With the extreme topography, current amenities at the park and in town, and the resources that Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation have mustered in the past on other trail projects, we expect a first-class, destination-level trail system. We’ll see what comes out of the presentation.
Add this event and others to your personal calendar here.
(All photos courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism)
More information is in the news release below.
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – A community open house is scheduled in Mena from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 5. The open house, hosted by Arkansas State Parks, the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, and the City of Mena, will be held at the Historic DeQueen Street Armory at 601 DeQueen Street in Mena.
The purpose of the meeting is to present initial concepts for a trail-focused recreation development project spanning Arkansas State Parks, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the City of Mena managed lands. A brief welcome and overview will take place at 6 p.m., followed by time for open discussion, questions, and public input. Handouts and maps of the project area will be made available, and the overall process to plan and consider future trail development will be explained.
The project is in the concept phase, and the following vision statement has been developed to guide the project: “To create a unique and inspiring visitor experience with a focus on gravity-fed and backcountry trails that allows for the realization of a higher potential for outdoor recreation, economic vitality, and quality of life by capitalizing on the terrain and relationships between local, state, and federal partners.”
As a part of this project, connections to the City of Mena that support recreational access and economic development will also be explored. The public is invited to further explore this vision, identify community connections and provide their thoughts on this opportunity.
Due to portions of the project being located on federally managed lands, there would be a forthcoming environmental review under the direction of the USDA Forest Service prior to implementation. The current trail study is being funded through a grant to the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation from the Walton Family Foundation.
Representatives of each of the host organizations will be available following the welcome and overview to answer questions about the project, provide media interviews and explain how interested individuals and organizations can participate in this process. Interview availability for media will take place at 6:30 p.m.