The Surprise Trail

I try to stay pretty well connected with the outdoor community in Arkansas, particularly central Arkansas, my backyard. But this caught me totally by surprise. I noticed last night that Arkansas Cycling and Fitness had posted on their Facebook page that a new multi-use trail had opened just off River Mountain Road near the Two River Bridge, mountain bikers started to get excited. I immediately remembered that years ago there was talk about building a trail down to River Mountain Road from Walton Heights. That’s the nice subdivision you see across the Little Maumelle River from Two Rivers Park looking down from on high.

So I was scooped on the headlines but no one seemed to have any information on the trail so today after leaving my day job I swung by the house, picked up our new puppy who needed to do some trail dog training and headed over to the vicinity of said trailhead. We parked at the boat ramp parking lot (the closest parking to the trailhead) and headed up the hill for our hike.

View of the Two Rivers Bridge from the boat ramp parking lot.
View of the Two Rivers Bridge from the boat ramp parking lot.

Walking along the road is a bit unsettling. Since the opening of the Two Rivers Bridge the traffic on River Mountain Road has picked up and there is no trail or path that gets a pedestrian to the trailhead. Once at the trailhead you can rest on a nice little bench next to the sign.

Have a seat! Or start hiking.
Have a seat! Or start hiking.

The trail starts off parallel to the road for just a bit on an ATV wide track through some tall grasses. Watch for the poison ivy. The trail is pretty easy to follow with really nice markers.

Go this way!
Go this way!

The trail soon entered the woods and turned to follow the creek up. It’s all singletrack from here on out. It’s a beautiful area and although the city says it’s open for hiking and mountain biking it’s not quite ready for the latter. The trail was obviously not designed with mountain biking in mind. Most of the stream crossings, and there are many, can’t be ridden by even an experienced rider. Some areas would be downright dangerous if you weren’t prepared for them. Then again some areas hold real promise and if mountain bikers were to work with the neighborhood association (Walton Heights-Candlewood Homeowner’s Association) who adopted the trail I could see how many sections could be re-engineered for mountain biking.

One of the easier creek crossings. There is a turn into it and off of it. Gonna take some skills.
One of the easier creek crossings. There is a turn into it and off of it. Gonna take some skills.

All that said, it’s a great hiking trail and those hikers who are concerned about cyclists taking it over needn’t worry. I think for now most cyclists will be recognized as the person pushing the bike on many parts of the trail. The few that can ride large parts of it are probably looking for a longer trail to ride.

What do you think, pretty inviting?
What do you think, pretty inviting?

I wasn’t able to complete the hike. After about a mile in it started getting darker. So I haven’t see the other side of the point A to B trail (sorry folks, no loop). I’m guessing that the trail comes out somewhere around the powerline swath in Walton Heights. Making it probably about 1.5 miles long so you get a nice 3 miles on an out and back. I recommend hiking this beauty. It’s an amazing place this close to town.

Another view.
Another view.

Oh yeah, and here is the map of our little hike. By the way, the puppy did great. After timidly walking behind me all the way up she took off on the way down. She is going to be a great trail dog.

Map of part of the new trail at River Mountain Park.
Map of part of the new trail at River Mountain Park.