Conway and Faulkner County residents wishing to get out of the house and stretch their legs in nature have plenty of options close to home.
Cadron Settlement Park
Derek Cox, assistant director of the Conway Parks Department, said when he thinks of nature, the first place he thinks of is Cadron Settlement Park. Located on Highway 319 just outside the Conway city limits, the park has historical significance as a pioneer settlement and a French trading post.
Cox said, "A lot of people don’t think about Cadron Settlement Park, but in my opinion, that’s our most diversified nature park. It’s a little off the beaten path. It has bike trails, walking trails in the woods and several places where you can look over the river. It’s a really pretty park. It’s truly unchanged nature. It isn’t utilized as much as it could be used."
Cadron Settlement Park also has handicapped trails and parking areas and a boat launching ramp.
Just 20 miles from downtown Conway is Woolly Hollow State Park, home to Lake Bennett. The park has campsites for tents and RVs, a swimming beach and multiple trails for hiking.
Gillian Rossi, park interpreter, said, "We just opened our brand new mountain bike and hiking trail. It’s 9.3 miles and it’s called Enders Fault. It’s excellent for mountain biking and it’s great for hiking. There’s tons of plants and animals, especially after a good rain.
"For people who don’t really like to hike, we have boating. You can go canoeing or kayaking here. These are really popular recreational activities here. Probably our most popular are our pedal boats. We rent those all day. We also rent kayaks and canoes.
"We have events going on all throughout the summer that are all outside. We have a star party on June 28. The Central Arkansas Astronomical Society comes and brings big telescopes and positions them so you can see a lot of cool stuff. Those are really popular events here."
Jewel Moore Nature Reserve
For walking and biking enthusiasts, a place to enjoy nature is the Jewel Moore Nature Reserve at the University of Central Arkansas. The eight-acre tract with almost three miles of trails has been set aside as a pristine remnant of virgin prairie since 1980. With many varieties of plants, wildflowers, trees, birds, butterflies and moths making their home in the area, the nature reserve is also a potential destination for nature photographers and other artists.
Those who are all about angling need look no further than Lake Conway. Located off Highway 89, Lake Conway is the largest man-made game and fish commission lake in the United States, according to an Arkansas tourism website. It is stocked with a variety of types of fish, and boat rentals are available at commercial docks on the lake. Free public launch areas are maintained by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the website said.
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)