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Parks in Central Arkansas guide 

click to enlarge Burns Park pic

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
Roland
501-868-5806

No. 1: Hike to top of Pinnacle Mountain for a view of the Arkansas River Valley. 2. Stay at the bottom of Pinnacle Mountain and picnic, play, walk through the cypress-lined Little Maumelle for peace and birding or launch a canoe. 3. Check out the arboretum for a leafy illustration of Arkansas's vegetation. 4. Go to the Visitors Center and let the kids wallow in the animal skins and tour other educational exhibits. 5. Take any number or routes through the 2,100 park on a multitude of trails, including the entrance to the Ouachita Trail and a renovated trail up to the west summit of Pinnacle. And, once a year, there's a Rendezvous for folks who like to dress up like the olden days and fire off muskets and stuff. One of the state's great parks.

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

Until last year, to get to Two Rivers Park meant a long drive out Hwy. 10 and looping back to a 489-acre spit of land just a few hundred feet from I-430 bridge. Now, thanks to the new Two Rivers Bridge, an extension of the River Trail, you can get to the park from the city on foot or bike faster than in a car. This riverside peninsula, bordered by the Little Maumelle and the Arkansas River, is a relaxing combination of wide open grassland where hawks hunt and sparrows feed, marsh and piney woods, fields planted in all kinds of species of tree, still in their baby years, all crisscrossed with trails (maps at littlerock.org). Some go for the annual Mud Run, a costumed 5K with a sloppy ending; canoers and kayakers like to put in on the Little Maumelle and float over to Pinnacle State Park, and vice versa.

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 in 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. Your kids, to play on the bouncy-rubber-surfaced playground. 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.

Burns Park
Interstate 40 at Exit 150
501-791-8538 (North Little Rock Parks Department)

Burns Park, at 1,575 acres, is to parks as New York is culture: It offers every outdoor activity imaginable, and a river runs by it. There's not a soccer player in Arkansas who hasn't booted the ball across the turf on one of its 17 fine fields. You can play 36 holes of golf here (on a links-style course whose goose-control method — hot lead injection — has caused quite a controversy in North Little Rock). There's a tennis center and a seven-field baseball complex and a fishing pier and equestrian trails and RV camping and archery and two dog parks and if you want to get there on a bike instead of the interstate you can, since a portion of the River Trail runs alongside it. A gem.

Clinton Presidential Park
1200 President Clinton Ave.
Little Rock
374-4242

The $10 million renovation of the Rock Island Railroad Bridge into the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, the east loop of the River Trail along the north and south shores of the Arkansas River, was finally completed last year. The rolling and beautifully groomed front yard of the Clinton Library is bordered by another new development: The Bill Clark Presidential Park Wetlands, a recycling marsh created from a river backwater, with boardwalks to watch the kingfishers from, a pavilion, and an educational component: a garbage trap at the entrance of the creek that feeds it to illustrate what happens when you throw your trash in the streets. The wetlands park was named for the head of the construction company that built the Clinton Library.

Emerald Park
North Little Rock
791-8538
Map at www.nlrpr.org/parks/trails.php

There's a reward at the top of this jewel of a park: A view of the Arkansas River and West Little Rock from Big Rock Mountain. But unlike Knoop Park's route to a vista (see below), it's not a walk in the park to get to the top. It's a climb, in some places over loose rocks, a steep four-mile hike for the physically fit, or folks who travel with a sherpa. At the top, the trail follows the edge of Fort Roots before dipping (if you are traveling west) into forest; there are super views all along the way. Access to the Emerald Park trail is from the River Trail, the paved bicycle/hiking path that connects Little Rock and North Little Rock via the Big Dam Bridge on the west and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge on the east.

Knoop Park Ozark and North Martin sts.
Little Rock
371-4770 (Little Rock Parks and Recreation)
Map at www.littlerock.org/ParksRecreation

There are two ways to get great views of downtown Little Rock from area parks and this is the easy one (Emerald Park in North Little Rock is the rugged way). From the apogee of a paved semicircle around and below the WPA-constructed Water Works you can see the Arkansas River and the Little Rock skyline; it's a popular spot for watching the Fourth of July fireworks shot from the Main Street bridge every year. You'll also see runners, people pushing strollers, bluebirds and birdwatchers, teen-agers hanging out and, if you're lucky, a fox or two.

MacArthur Park
Ninth and McAlmont sts.
Little Rock
371-4770 (Little Rock Parks and Recreation)
Map at www.littlerock.org/ParksRecreation

A grass-roots effort by neighbors and downtown boosters is bringing change to this park, the home of the Museum of Arkansas Military History (in the historic Arsenal building) and the Arkansas Arts Center. A front lawn pool and walkway from Ninth Street to the front of the museum have been refurbished and work is going on in the south side of the park to landscape and create a drive around the fishing pond. A bicycle polo court has been created here and there are ambitious plans for grassy bridge to connect the park to areas south of I-630. Also in the future: The Firehouse Hostel and Museum in a historic firehouse on the southwest corner of the grounds.

Riverfront Park
Along the south shore of the Arkansas River from the Clinton Library west to the Broadway Bridge
371-4770 (Little Rock Parks and Recreation)
Map at www.littlerock.org/ParksRecreation

The Riverfest Amphitheatre, La Petite Roche (the Little Rock) and the Peabody Park Playground are the prime attractions in this long and narrow greenway along the Arkansas River. The playground includes a splash park, rock climbing area and a ropey-jungle-gym. La roche, or what's left of it, is hard by the entrance to the Junction Bridge, now one the city's three pedestrian and bike links to North Little Rock. The park also features the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden behind the Peabody Hotel. Little Rock's biggest festival of the year, Riverfest, is played out along the grassy knolls of Riverfront Park and in the amphitheater; the River Market, a food vendors hall, is the park's public face.

War Memorial Park
Van Buren and Kavanaugh Blvd.
Little Rock
371-4770 (Little Rock Parks and Recreation)
Map at www.littlerock.org/ParksRecreation

War Memorial Stadium, the Jim Dailey Fitness Center, the Little Rock Zoo and an 18-hole golf course are the prime attraction in this park. Thanks to a bond issue, the city's Parks and Recreation Department has fixed up the entrance to the park and is overhauling the playground to add a splash attraction and rock walls. Walking trails have been added (fore!); more are planned to make the park attractive to bikers and hikers and those looking for a green retreat in midtown.

OTHER PARKS

Little Rock

Pavilions in Allsopp, Boyle, Crump, Hindman, Kanis, Morehart, Murray, Reservoir, War Memorial and West End Park may be reserved for $65 a day. The pavilion at MacArthur Park may be rented for $150 a day, plus a refundable deposit of $100.

Urban parks (50 acres or more)

Boyle Park, 36th St. and Boyle Park Road: Pavilions, playground, soccer field, fishing pond, picnic areas, two-mile skating/biking/jogging trail.

Gillam Park, Springer Boulevard: Audubon Arkansas nature center.

Hindman Golf, Brookview Drive: 18-hole golf course.

Interstate Park Softball Complex, Interstate 30 and Arch St., near 33rd and Short: Softball, playgrounds, basketball, picnic tables and canoe launch to Fourche Creek.

Jack Stephens Youth Golf Academy (First Tee), 6620 Falls Blvd. off University Ave.: Golf course encompassing old Rock Creek Golf Course.

Murray Park, Rebsamen Park Road: Eight pavilions, three soccer fields, volleyball, playgrounds, boat dock and fishing, Paws Park for dogs.

Otter Creek Soccer Park, Stagecoach Road near Pulaski-Saline county line: Four soccer fields, playground, pavilion, picnic tables, fishing pond.

Rebsamen Golf, Rebsamen Park Road: 27-hole golf course.

Reservoir Park, Cantrell Road near Reservoir Road: Softball, picnic tables, basketball, lighted tennis courts, picnic tables, pavilion.

Section 13, Garrison Road: 617 acres of hiking trails, playground, open space play fields.

Community parks (20-50 acres)

Benny Craig, Gum Springs Road and Rosemore: Softball, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic tables, canoe access to Fourche Creek.

Brodie Creek, Tall Timber Blvd.: Playground, picnic tables, basketball, soccer.

Curran Conway, 24th and Monroe sts.: Softball, playgrounds.

Hindman Community: Playground, picnic tables, restrooms, softball field, basketball, tennis.

Kanis, Rodney Parham Road at Mississippi off I-630: Softball, playgrounds, bike trails, jogging trails, basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, picnic tables, pavilion.

Morehart, Mabelvale Cutoff: Pavilion, softball, basketball, tennis, picnic tables, restrooms.

Remmel, C. Lindsey Road and Interstate 440: Boat ramp, playground, soccer fields, free pavilion/picnic shelter.

Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road: Soccer, pool, meeting room and computer center.

Neighborhood parks (3-20 acres)

Barton Park, Roosevelt Road and Dennison St.: Softball.

Butler Park, Rodney Parham Road off Old Forge Road: Softball, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic tables.

Dunbar Recreation Center, 1001 W. 16th St.: Ballfield, basketball, gym, playground, tennis and volleyball.

Granite Heights, 38th St. and Confederate Blvd.: Softball, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic tables.

Kiwanis Park, Foster and 42nd sts.: Playground, basketball pads, fishing pond and boat launch, walking and equestrian trails.

Meriwether, M St. and Florida Ave.: Softball, playgrounds, lighted tennis courts, picnic tables, volleyball.

East Little Rock Community Center, 2500 E. Sixth St.: Ballfield, basketball, gym, playground, soccer field, tennis, volleyball, swimming pool, senior center.

Ottenheimer Park, Dahlia and Azalea Drive: Basketball, tennis, playground, lake, softball field, picnic tables.

Pankey Park, Isom Road off Cantrell Road: Playground, basketball court, open space.

Pinedale Cove, Mabelvale: Playground, picnic area.

Southside, Whitmore Circle: Softball, playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic tables.

Crump, N.W. 33rd and Fulton sts.: Basketball, pavilion, playground, walking trail, community garden.

Thom, Vega Drive: Playgrounds, soccer, picnic tables.

Union Park (formerly West End), 36th and Walker sts.: Playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic tables, pavilion, softball.

Wakefield, Fisher and Woodson sts.: Softball, playgrounds, basketball, tennis courts, picnic tables.

Mini-parks (under 5 acres)

Birchwood, Birchwood and Creek Circle: Playgrounds, basketball.

Centennial, 15th and Wolfe sts.: Playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic tables.

Cheatham Park, Sixth and Kimball sts.: Softball, basketball, playgrounds, picnic tables.

Fletcher, I-630 and Woodrow St.: Softball, playgrounds, basketball, picnic tables, free pavilion/picnic shelter.

Hanger Hill, 38th and Hanger sts.: Playgrounds, basketball, pavilion, tennis courts.

Ninth Street Park, Ninth and Pulaski sts.: Playgrounds, basketball.

Oak Forest, W. 14th and Pierce sts.: Playgrounds, basketball.

Pettaway, East 21st and Commerce sts: Playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic tables.

Prospect Terrace, I and Tyler sts. off Kavanaugh Blvd.: Playgrounds, basketball, picnic tables.

Richland Park, Richland and Heather Lane: Climber, swingset.

South Little Rock Recreation Center, 2701 S. Main St.: Basketball, hiking, playground, soccer, volleyball

Stephens Community Center, 3720 W. 18th St.:Playground, basketball.

Undeveloped parks

Alexander, 80 acres.

Fourche Bottoms, West 60th Street (canoe access to Fourche Creek), 1,315 acres

South Arch, 87 acres

River Mountain, 397 acres

Western Hills Golf Course, 127.6 acres

Terry, 110 acres

Natural Steps, 48 acres

Hindman South, 40 acres

Taylor Loop, 35 acres

Candlewood, 18 acres

Conner Park, 10 acres

Grandview Addition, 3 acres

Bell Pointe, 3 acres

CAMMACK VILLAGE

663-4593

Baker Park, intersection of Greenwood and Audubon: Swings, jungle gym, basketball courts, picnic tables.

Cammack swimming pool and tennis courts, 2708 N. McKinley: Tennis courts open all year, pool open May-August.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK

791-8538

Athletic parks (outside Burns Park)

Emerald Park Golf Course, 2700 Fort Roots Blvd.: 9-hole golf course.

North Heights Complex, 47th and Allen sts.: Teeny league baseball diamonds.

Rose City Athletic Complex, 400 Rose Lane.

Vestal Park Softball Complex, 13th and Crutcher sts.: Softball fields.

Community parks

Camp Robinson, 54th and Camp Robinson Road: Playground, picnic tables.

Campbell Lake Park, Murray Lock and Dam: Fishing, links to Arkansas River Trail.

Crestview, Magnolia and Crestview sts.: Pavilion.

Conley Park, Dixie and Range Line Ave.: Ballfield, basketball court, pavilion, restroom, playground.

Faucette Brothers Historical Park, Main St. and Washington Ave.: Gazebo.

Glenview Recreation Center and Pool, 4800 E. 19th St.: Picnic tables, playground, two basketball courts, splash park.

Heritage Park, 24th and Franklin sts.: Picnic tables.

Idlewild, Idlewild and Cedar sts.: Tennis, basketball, playground, party house, picnic tables.

Lorene Joshua Park, 14th and Vine sts.: Playground.

Melrose, Melrose Circle: Playground, swings, picnic tables.

Military Heights, 23rd and Willow sts.: Basketball, playground.

North Shore, Lynch Drive and Saunders sts.: Ballfield, basketball, tennis, playground.

North Heights Recreation Center and Pool, 4801 Allen St.: Pool, gymnasium and gymnastics program, ballfields, tennis, picnic and play area.

North Little Rock Community Center and Plaza, 2700 Willow St.: Fitness center, gazebos and pond.

Old Mill, Lakeshore and Fairway sts.: Four picnic tables.

Riverfront Park, entrance at 100 Poplar: Biking, hiking on the Arkansas River Trail.

Riverview Park, West River Road: Picnic area, pavilion, playground.

Sherman Park Recreation Center and Pool, 624 Beech St.: Ballfield, 4 basketball courts, two pavilions, playground, two tennis courts.

Pugh, Vine and Locust sts.: Playground, picnic tables.

Jim Roberts Neighborhood Park, 13th St. and Park Drive: Playground.

Frank M. Witkowski Park, 18th and Division sts.: Playground, pavilion, barbecue grill.

41st and Moss, 41st and Moss sts.: Picnic area, playground, sand box.

Mini-parks

Crestwood, Crestwood and Lochridge sts.

W.C. Faucette Memorial, JFK and A sts.

Fearneyhough Park, C Avenue and Plainview Circle: Playground.

Fourth Street Triangle Park, West Broadway and Fourth sts.

15th Street Triangle Park, 15th St. and North Hills Blvd.

I-30 Basketball, Fourth and Cypress: Four basketball goals.

JACKSONVILLE

982-2613

Excell, Southeastern Ave. and Ray Road: Baseball, playground, batting cages.

Dupree, Redmond Road and Park St.: Playground, pavilions, ballfields, fishing lake, RV park, concession buildings, four soccer fields, disc golf, dog park.

Fireman, Graham Road: Multipurpose courts, tennis, pavilion, soccer, playground.

Galloway, Galloway Circle: Multipurpose court, pavilion, playground.

Jacksonville High School tennis courts (open to the public).

Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive: Indoor pool, skate park, walking track, fitness mezzanine, gym, racquetball courts, banquet and meeting rooms, courtyard.

Jerry Smith, off Main Street: Playground.

Jimmy White, 115 Cheyenne: Lake, picnic table.

Johnson, Off Ray Road: Pavilions, multipurpose court.

North Lake Park, North Lake subdivision: Basketball courts, pavilion, playground.

Paradise, Redmond Road: Fishing lake, pavilion, boat launch, piers.

Pleasure, Martin St. and Highway 161: Recreation center, Splash Zone pool complex, pavilions, playground, volleyball.

Stonewall, Berkshire Drive and Loop Road: Pavilion, covered benches, walking trail.

Stagecoach, Wells Fargo Trail: Picnic table, playground.

SHERWOOD

835-6893

Austin Lake Park, Austin Lake Circle: Two pavilions, play structure, trail.

Beverly, Beverly St.: Basketball court, walking trails, playground.

Bill Harmon Recreation Center, 51 Shelby Road: Swimming pool, walking track, double gymnasium, meeting space, aerobics room, weight room.

Delmont, Delmont and Sherwood aves.: Gazebo, playground.

Fairway, Fairway Ave.: Swimming pool, gazebo, playground.

Henson Tennis Center, North Beverly St.: Walking trails, playground, four tennis courts, pro shop, bird sanctuary.

Indianhead, Deerfield and Custer: Swimming pool, playground, tennis court, small baseball field, picnic area, pavilion.

Lake Cherrywood, Summit St.: Fishing lake, handicapped fishing pier, basketball court, playground.

Pickthorne, Marlar Drive: Pavilion, playground, basketball, picnic area, walking trail connected to Henson Park.

Silvercreek, Silvercreek subdivision: Basketball court, playground.

Sports Complex, Bear Paw Drive: Kevin McReynolds baseball fields, Harmon softball complex, Love soccer complex, playground, picnic areas, pavilion.

Storer, Helen and Johnny Lane: Walking trail, playground.

Thornhill, behind City Hall: Swimming pool, picnic area, playground, fishing pond.

Verona, Verona St.: Gazebo, basketball, picnic area, playground.

Youth Center, 508 Sherwood Ave.: Two tennis courts, basketball, playground, ping pong, gymnastics.

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