Where the Mississippi River Delta and the foothills of the Ozark Mountains meet you’ll find the capital city of the Natural State. Gorgeous river valleys, rolling hills and miles of lush forests, make Little Rock an ideal place to enjoy the great outdoors. The area’s abundant parks, wooded trails, and beautiful views give everyone something to love.
Outside Online recently placed Little Rock as one of the 2019 Top 12 Best Places to live in the country.
Big Dam Marvels
The Arkansas River Trail continues as a work in progress after thirty years of development. Upon completion, the River Trail will extend 24 miles and connect major recreational and business areas in Little Rock and North Little Rock. Designed for pedestrians, cyclists, and rollerbladers, the trail is intended to revolutionize travel for work and play. By reducing automobile use, the city plans to enjoy quieter streets, cleaner air, and healthier citizens.
The Big Dam Bridge is currently Little Rock’s biggest outdoor hotspot. The longest pedestrian and cyclist-only bridge in North America built specifically for that use was finished in 2006, adding a 14-mile loop to the Arkansas River Trail. It towers a staggering nine stories over Murray Lock and Dam and offers a breathtaking view of the Arkansas River. The path is 14 feet wide, making plenty of room for the dog walkers and marathon trainers who share it. And with eight large observation areas, the bridge is as much for strolling tourists as it is for fitness fans.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park, located in Roland off West Highway 10, is a favorite destination for Little Rock hikers. The park encompasses the mountain, a large playground and field, several pavilions, and launch ramps on the riverbed. The Arkansas Trail is a paved path at the center of the Arkansas Arboretum, complete with signs and voice panels to educate visitors about their surroundings. The peak of Pinnacle Mountain looms over 1000 feet above the Arkansas River. The mountain has two hiking trails to the top; one is easy and the other difficult. Veterans of Pinnacle will advise reading the signs before choosing a trail. The view from the summit is worth every step; climbers can savor the magnificent view of the Arkansas River Valley, the Little Rock skyline, and other high mountains in central Arkansas.
An hour and a half drive north of Little Rock is Petit Jean State Park, a collection of natural bluffs overlooking breathtaking canyons and the Petit Jean River bed. Bluff-dwelling Native Americans made their home here over 1000 years ago. Ancient pictographs still adorn the cave walls of this protected archaeological site. Petit Jean has 20 hiking trails that all offer spectacular views of Arkansas’ major landmarks.
Spanning more than 1,500 acres, Burns Park in North Little Rock is the area’s largest public park and one of the largest city-owned public parks in the U.S. The following is just some of what Burns has to offer:
- BMX bike trails
- Horseback riding trails
- RV campgrounds
- A golf course
- Soccer fields
- Baseball fields
- Two 18-hole disc golf courses and a nine-hole Junior course
That doesn’t include Funland, Burns’ own amusement park with rides and a miniature golf course. And even with all of this development, Burns still has hundreds of acres of unspoiled woods left to explore.
Murray Park is a well-loved park in the Heights neighborhood. Located on the south bank of the Arkansas River, Murray has a little bit of everything with three soccer fields, eight pavilions, two playgrounds, and several boat docks. It also claims one end of the Big Dam Bridge. A favorite feature of Murray is Paws Park, an off-leash dog park where residents can let their canine friends run without worry inside the fenced area.
War Memorial Park, next to the Little Rock Zoo on Fair Park Boulevard, is a sprawling 117-acre park made up of green space, walking paths, a children’s fishing pond, a large playground, a splash pad and public swimming pool.
Riverfront Park has recently been completely revitalized with a new play area known as Peabody Park. Peabody sports a rock-climbing wall, tunnel structures, a tube slide, and spraying fountains for the kids to cool off during the summer. Adults looking for a place to exercise can run along the riverbanks on the downtown portion of the River Trail. And the First Security Bank Amphitheater is a great place to take in a concert.
Allsopp Park is located on Cantrell and Cedar in Hillcrest. The newly-expanded playground is set in sand and soft turf. The large pavilion has a fireplace and chimney as well as outdoor grills. Allsopp also has several tennis courts, paved hiking trails through the woods, and a beautiful bridge over the creek running through the park.