Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Prothro Junction commuter lot, I-40 East, Exit 157, southeast side of the interstate. We’ll spend the morning exploring the Joe Hogan Fish Hatchery, the minnow ponds along Bob Long Rd. and the open fields east of Bob Long Rd. First stop is the Fish Hatchery, off Hwy. 70 at 23 Joe Hogan Lane in Lonoke. The hatchery is the largest and one of the oldest state-owned warm-water pond hatcheries in the United States. After searching the hatchery, we’ll head south on Hwy. 31 to Pettus and turn east onto Bob Long Road. We’ll check the numerous minnow ponds, which can be a magnet for lingering shorebirds, various duck species, a rare merganser or scoter, and early arriving gulls. The open fields attract flocks of Snow, Greater White-fronted, and Canada Geese, raptors, and first-of-the-season sparrows. The trip combines driving and stopping, with walking at the Fish Hatchery. Wear sturdy shoes as we may be standing in dirt and grass in some spots. Bring scopes, water, and snacks. This is a morning trip.
Delta Heritage Trail State Park and Mississippi River State Park
Meet at 7:00 a.m. at the Prothro Junction commuter lot, I-40 East, Exit 157, southeast side of the interstate. Drive time from Little Rock to the Delta Heritage Trail SP is 1 hour 38 minutes. The Delta Heritage Trail is a rail-to-trail conversion that was acquired by Arkansas State Parks in 1993. Fourteen miles near Helena have been completed in some of the most remote and scenic areas remaining in eastern Arkansas’s Mississippi Delta. This historic rail trail is easy walking and goes through multiple habitats.
We’ll then travel to the Mississippi River SP. Drive time between the two parks is 25 minutes. The Mississippi River SP is operated by the Arkansas State Parks within the St. Francis National Forest. It has a Visitors Center with exhibits. It is the newest member of the Arkansas State Parks System. Bear Creek Lake Natural trail is a one-mile loop that provides access to the unique flora and fauna of Crowley’s Ridge. This easy walking trail winds through groves of large native trees, many which are identified and is a great way to explore the forest. Drive time from the Park back to Little Rock is 1 hour 35 minutes.
Delta Heritage Trail SP is located at 5539 Hwy. 49, Helena-West Helena. Phone 870-572-2352. For more information go to email@example.com
Mississippi River SP is located at 2955 Hwy. 44, Marianna. Phone 870-295-4040. For more information go to www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/mississippi-river-state-park