Last week Jeff and I (and Sophie) spent a lovely afternoon hiking at Hobbs State Park, which is just about 30 minutes southwest of us. It is actually Arkansas’s largest state park and it combines a lot of limestone features (called karst), including caves, sinkholes, pits and crevices. We didn’t make it far enough to see any caves, but it there was some definite climbing and balancing on some ridges where the trail ran. The theme for this park is not one large mountain or lake or river or forest or historical event or the myriad plants and animals. It is some of all of these. It is diversity: “Hobbs…awareness of the diversity of life”.
Native Americans lived and hunted buffalo, deer, turkey, elk and bear in this area. Of course, white settlers eventually moved in and also enjoyed the area’s plants, animals, streams and rivers. The park has a fascinating history centered around the Peter Van Winkle industrial mill complex, large antebellum home and slave quarters. During the 1870′s, the largest steam-driven saw mill in Arkansas operated here, providing huge amounts of lumber for the reconstruction of northwest Arkansas following the Civil War. Most of the lumber for the Victorian-style houses in Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Eureka Springs, as well as the lumber in “Old Main” at the University of Arkansas, came from this mill.
There are three sections of nature hikes: Shaddox Hollow – 1.5 miles, Pigeon Roost (the one we were on) – 8.4 miles, and Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail – 23 miles. The 1/2 mile Historic Van Winkle Trail is wheelchair accessible with a paved parking lot and tunnel under Hwy 12. Interpretive panels with pictures tell the story of the early industrial center.
There is also a gun shooting range and is the only state park that allows managed hunting, with special permits. They have a weekly schedule on their website, with lots of great workshops and kids’ activities. Recently they had a class to learn kayaking, which we really wanted to take. Oh, well, maybe next time!
Jeff and Nadara (Sam) Feldman – and Sophie, too!