They couldn’t have given Arkansas a better moniker, as it is truly one of the most beautiful states in the country. And one of the best ways to explore and learn more about the natural diversity, beauty and history of the state is at its many state parks. To start at Part 1, click here.
One of those is Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, the state’s largest state park and conservation area, encompassing some 12,045-acres with a diverse amalgamation of Ozark caves, valleys, streams, upland forest plateaus and ridges. At the visitor center which is only about a 30-minute drive from downtown Bentonville along Highway 12, you’ll find numerous interactive kiosks and state-of-the-art galleries and exhibits that delve into the history, animal and plant life, ecological composition and more of the area.
It is also the place to garner a wealth of information about the area’s trails, each possessing their own unique features to suit walkers, hikers, cyclists, equestrians, bird walkers and naturalists alike. While at the Visitor Center we strolled along one of the short paved trails which gave us a taste of the outdoor adventures to be found just beyond as notated on our trail map.
Hopping in the car, we took a short drive to the trailhead of two popular trails. The first we embarked upon was the Sinking Stream Trail, a short, half-mile, looping, foot traffic only trail featuring beautiful streams, bridges, and native trees and plants.
The second is the Historic Van Winkle Trail, home to a significant piece of black history in this part of the state. Also a short, easy trail to navigate, it also features a great deal of the area’s ecological diversity.
But the main highlights here are the remnants of the historic home, mill sites, spring and raised Antebellum garden that once belonged to a pioneering African American family—the trail’s namesake Peter Van Winkle family—who lived here during and after the Civil War. Because of the historical significance, the trail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interpretive signage along the trail detail a bit about their history, and free guided tours of the trail are available by checking in at the Visitor Center.
Just a few more spots to explore in our last feature of this series. To start at Part 1, click here.