I don't know how I once thought that there was absolutely nothing to do in Little Rock. If that were true, I wouldn't be writing this post. I'm the outdoorsy-type, and because we do live in the Natural State, these 'scenic stops' will naturally be... outdoors. Never saw that coming right? If you're not into 'the great outdoors', don't go anywhere yet! This is a great way to save some cash, get excercise, travel for less, and make memories.
Little Rock, Arkansas
I know that I'm starting off with probably one of the most well known and most visited spots in the Little Rock area, Pinnacle Mountain but this view never grows old! Trust me, I usually hike it once a week. It's perfect for a spectacular sunrise or sunset (my favorite time to take photos). Take your picnic, go horseback riding, bird watching, or, of course, hiking.
For more experienced hikers, if you've already seen the West Summit, go for the East Summit Trail. It's more difficult and totally different from the West Summit trail. You can get to East Summit from the west side and take a mile long trail along the base of the mountain, or just park on the 'hard side' and climb from there. West Summit is a shorter climb and a bit easier to enjoy, but you'll still get a work out- no worries!
Petit Jean Mountain
Ever since 10 years ago when our family went camping and canoeing at Petit Jean one summer, it has held a place in my heart! Cedar Falls Trail even in the bareness of winter is beautiful.
If you don't believe me yet from the photos, sunrise and sunset is the time to hike. Not only will it be cooler, but only the most passionate visitors make it out so early in the morning to see this spectacular sight. You have the whole state park to yourself and the whole world in front of you to contemplate. Just make sure you're at the main overlook where Jean's burial site is. There's also a wonderful piece of history to this place to learn, but I won't spoil that experience for you.
The shot above is no filter, no edit, and I shot it with my iPhone 5. It was just that beautiful. You can't look at this view and not see what a glorious Creator we have.
North Little Rock, Arkansas
With a scenic view from the State Capitol, all the way along the Arkansas River, and up to Pinnacle Mountain in the distance, Emerald won't disappoint. The park entrance is directly behind Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock.
Here's a little taste of a cotton candy sunset from one night at Emerald. You can see Pinnacle peaking over the river far into the distance.
Austin and I just paid Emerald a visit last week to see the firework show on the Fourth of July. It's a great spot to settle down. We had a view of about four firework shows from our spot. Emerald is also where we had our first date after we grabbed coffee at Mylo Coffee Co. Like Pinnacle, there are two trails to the view; one is down some steep cliffs (approach with caution) and the other is along a long trail to the other side of the mountain.
I'm in the Conway area once a week or so and Austin and I always enjoy a trip out to Cadron Park. This is another spectacular sunset shot following a storm that passed through. You can see the dark rain in the distance.
I've hung up my Eno several times here. You never know when you'll need a nap or a place to hang out, so I always pack my hammock. If there are trees, that's probably where you'll see me.
The River Trail
Little Rock, Arkansas
A couple of summers ago, my adventure group took what we call a "Day-cation" and biked 22 miles along the River Trails. We just rented bikes at Bobby's Bike Hike right next to the Rivermarket downtown.
We brought a picnic along that we had at the 11 mile half-way mark. Just strap it onto the back of your bike, bring plenty of water, and you're set for an adventure in Arkansas.
Just when we thought that we'd had enough adventure for the day, it started down-pouring! We finished our day biking the Junction Bridge across from the Clinton Library.
I don't recommend asking to use local store bathrooms, (they're supposed to be only for employees) but we had to change into some clean and dry clothes after getting soaked. Definitely not a day I'll ever forget. :)
Sugar Loaf Mountain
Heber Springs, Arkansas
This is a day-trip but it's a must for your to-do list. Our day at Sugar Loaf has to be one of the most extraordinary days of my life to date. We rented canoes to paddle out to the mountain and literally had the whole island to ourselves! Once we hiked to the top, we enjoyed (yet another) peanut butter & jelly picnic. When we explored the island, we saw the bald eagle that nests on the mountain glide by. It was incredible. To conclude the day, we jumped the bluffs near Greer's Fairy.
If you notice the storm rolling in (picture right) I'll have you know that once again, it down-poured at the end of our Day-Cation. Just another sweet memory! Somehow our days together always work out.
You now have a few of your own day-cations to get to before the summer's over! These were only some of my all-time favorite spots, and I didn't even cover the NWA area yet. Maybe that's for a later blog post...