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There are few better or easier ways to experience Arkansas’s natural beauty than on foot. Whether you’re on the lookout for a casual stroll or a vigorous workout, backpacking and hiking are excellent ways to explore The Natural State.
Arkansan and avid backpacker Roy Burton set the wheels in motion last year to establish a Backpacking and Hiking Day in Arkansas, and this year, Governor Asa Hutchinson has again made a proclamation for the day, which will fall on July 17. According to the proclamation, “Backpacking and Hiking Day in Arkansas is dedicated to the many backpackers and hikers across our state and to outdoor enthusiasts around the country who come to enjoy the beauty of The Natural State.” A summer date was chosen for the event to target the high volume of visitors that travel to the state during the season.
The state’s diverse topography offers a range of scenic territory to explore. Trails course through a variety of landscapes including mountain terrain, pine and bottomland hardwood forests, and alongside rivers and streams. Arkansas is home to 52 state parks and three national forests and there are a wealth of trails to choose from across the six regions of the state.
There are many trails in the state that are accessible to new hikers, trails that are level and without difficult elevation changes. There are also places to car camp for those who might be apprehensive about overnighting at a primitive campsite. The range of trails in the state also includes ADA accessible routes, among them the Kingfisher Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock as an example of a short trail option that is paved. The gentle ½-mile loop is easy on the feet and knees and convenient for those pushing baby strollers. The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail also has a 1.25 mile Watchable Wildlife loop trail that is ADA accessible. Hiking is also an easy and economical way for families with children to get outside and enjoy time in nature together.
Staying hydrated is crucial when hiking and backpacking in the summer in Arkansas as well as having a place to escape the heat if need be. Sticking to trails that are close to lakes and streams is a good idea during summer’s hottest days.
Whether one enjoys a quick day hike or heading out on a multiple day backpacking venture, Burton said the ultimate goal of July 17 is to get outdoors, hit the trail, and enjoy the day and beauty of Arkansas.
For more details on the hiking and backpacking options across Arkansas, visit www.Arkansas.com/outdoors/hiking.