Easy being green 

Pulaski puts parks in drive.

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Central Arkansas is the urban heart of Arkansas, but that doesn't mean it's all concrete and office buildings. In Little Rock, the Parks and Recreation Department has promoted the moniker "City in a Park," and North Little Rock can lay claim to one of the largest urban greenspaces in the United States, the 1,575-acre Burns Park. The parks offer places to hike, bike, play ball, lie around with a book, get a view of the city, climb on monkey bars, dash through water sprays, look at birds and other respites from the workday world.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

11901 Pinnacle Valley Road



If you haven't hiked to the top of Pinnacle for a view of the Arkansas River valley, you must be new to town. This state park just outside Little Rock's city limits offers points high (the top of the volcano-shaped mountain, or what passes for mountains in the Ouachitas) and low (a trail along the ancient cypress-lined Little Maumelle) and is where you start your journey on the Ouachita Trail. You can hike these 2,100 acres many times and not cover the same path. It's a favorite of birdwatchers and canoers and folks who like to dress up like the olden days and fire off muskets and stuff. Headquarters has a gift shop and a little museum with animal skins for kids to wallow in.

Two Rivers Park

County Farm Road, off state Hwy. 10

Pulaski County/Little Rock

371-4770 (Little Rock Parks and Recreation)

Map at www.littlerock.org/ParksRecreation

Six years after it was announced, the Garden of Trees is finally going in at this 489-acre park jointly owned by Pulaski County and Little Rock. They're probably not native trees to this Arkansas River bottomland, but folks like to see them. Lots of people go to this park, a long peninsula of grasslands, marsh and sandy piney woods, to bike and walk its trails (maps at littlerock.org). Some go for the annual Mud Run, a costumed 5K with a sloppy ending. Millions of birders — only a slight exaggeration — sneak out here to see LaConte's Sparrow and other rarities (if you see a rail there, call us up). But here's the really neat thing: This park will soon be linked to Little Rock's River Trail by a bridge spanning the Little Maumelle. Bikers will be able to get to this park faster than folks in a Ferrari.

Allsopp Park

Cantrell and Cedar Hill roads

Little Rock

371-4770 (Little Rock Parks and Recreation)

Map at www.littlerock.org/ParksRecreation

Here's what you can take to Allsopp Park: A ball and a bat, for practice at the softball field, where the Hillcrest Girls Softball League has played for eons. Hot dogs, to cook on the grills. String with bacon tied to it, to catch the crawdads in the creek. Marshmallows, Hershey's bars and graham crackers, to cook in the rock fireplace in the pavilion. Your tennis racket and a basketball (run those guys who play soccer tennis off). Bring your kids, too: There's a bouncy-surfaced playground with things to climb on and swing from. The creek has big rocks for stepping on and pools for the dog to cool off in. That's the developed part of this hilly, forested 150-acre retreat in the middle of Little Rock, where mountain bikers become airborne and the keen of a bagpipe sometimes fills the air, coming from the direction of a rock garden mysteriously built within the park. Named for the newspaperman and bookstore owner whose home, complete with a planetarium, once overlooked the park.

Burns Park

Interstate 40 at Exit 150



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