Here you can enjoy the unique geology of Crowley's Ridge, a landform of rolling hills in eastern Arkansas's Mississippi Alluvial Plain. A geologic anomaly, the ridge is covered with a lush hardwood forest featuring oak, sugar maple, beech, butternut, and tulip poplar. Park interpretive programs and exhibits share the story of the natural and cultural heritage of Crowley's Ridge. Five park trails totaling seven miles allow hikers the opportunity to explore this forest on their own, or on a guided trail walk with a park interpreter. Anglers can fish for bass, bream, catfish, and crappie at the park's two lakes, Lake Austell and Lake Dunn. Launch ramps, boat docks, bait, fishing boats, electric motors, and pedal boats are available late-spring through Labor Day. The park campground includes 96 campsites [24 Class AAA, five Class A, and 67 Class B sites (for RVs, tents, and horse campers)] around Lake Dunn. Nestled on a nearby ridge are the park's 10 fully-equipped cabins that feature kitchens and wood-burning fireplaces. At Lake Austell, picnic sites are situated near a sandy beach and sun deck. The park also includes four standard pavilions (one is enclosed), playgrounds, baseball and multi-use fields, and a driving range. Horseback riding is a popular activity at this park, the second largest in land area in Arkansas's state park system. Twenty-five miles of multi-use trails wind through the rolling hills and unique hardwood forest of Crowley's Ridge. The horse trails are open throughout the year. Call the park for current trail conditions. The horse camp features 30 campsites with water and electric hookups, an asphalt parking pad, picnic table and grill; a modern bathhouse; horse wash bays and 66 stalls inside the camping area. The horse stable's 10' x 10' stalls with water, electric, and ceiling fans. The park visitor center includes an A/V theater, store, gift shop, and bicycle rentals. The interpretive center offers a large meeting facility and The Discovery Room that features exhibits of prehistoric artifacts and information about the wildlife of Crowley's Ridge. Interpreters offer programs, concerts, and special events throughout the year.
This park is truly a hidden gem in NE Arkansas. Muckas Running Club hosts the Village Creek 10k/25k Trail Run(Facebook) annually in January. There are roughly 26 miles of marked trail, and right at 12 miles of pavement. The trail system will take you along, upon, and over Crowleys Ridge. No rocks, a few roots, leaves, and the chance to experience ridgelines, creek bottom hardwoods, and about 2300ft in elevation gain. The race course markings are Single track course, the 25K is an out and back route starting at the bicycle entrance to the following markers 13,14,11,10,16,17,18, north past 19 towards 20 where you will reach the turnaround. The 10k will follow markers 13,14,11,10,9,7,6,12,13, and back to the bicycle entrance. - Read about the race route here. http://www.arkansasoutside.com/my-ultimate-journeys-first-race-and-first-1st-place-finish-village-creek-25k-race-report/
This trail is mostly covered, making it great for hot days. The trail meets a creek on several occasions. The swinging bridge is a little out of the way, but totally worth the detour. It's a perfect place for a lunch. I did see a lot of human litter, which is depressing.
Hubby and i took the kids (8 &2) and hiked a total of about 10 miles the first day and another 3 or 4 the next. Village creek has a bunch of trails. All moderate or easy. We had a great time! Lots of stairs on the hills though, so if you're one with knee or foot issues .. Fair warning. Not difficult or anything but just a heads up.
The second largest state park in Arkansas, Village Creek, is home to several awesome trails that wind through the unique geology of Crowley's Ridge. The Arboretum and Big Ben Nature trails are two easy hikes which begin on opposite sides of the main parking lot at the visitor's center.
The scenery was beautiful. I hiked the Old Military Road Trail which includes a preserved portion of the Trail of Tears. There are a lot of historical markers with good information that I enjoyed reading. It was more a moderate trail not easy. The swinging bridge is about a quarter mile past where the loop turns back toward the lake, just before junction 14 - defiantly worth a few extra steps.
We have hiked and mountain bikes this trail a bunch. It is well maintained. Most of the trail that we have done is fairly level on top the ridge, but getting there is a short climb. This is a great trail in the North East Area of Arkansas.
To get to the trail, you go across a big meadow and into the woods. The beginning of the Lake Dunn trail is beautiful and very easy riding. Smooth path alongside pretty green grass and woods. We went on a spring morning when it was wonderfully cool and dappled light was coming through the forest. After you get to the fork though, the riding definitely becomes harder (depending on which direction you go). We took the uphill section first, then went down a long strip of the South Ridge Trail to meet back up and finish the Dunn. The uphill section and the South Ridge section (H) that we took was difficult! Take plenty of water!
There are actually quite a few trails in this system. We hiked the Arboretum, Lake Austell, and Big Ben (listed separately). The Arboretum is very short and has signage about the different types of trees. You go out and back on the same trail (close to the visitor center). Lake Austell starts next to the Arboretum. It's a beautiful hike in the spring (and gorgeous in the fall!). It goes through the woods and over several small bridges and up curving stairs. Fairly easy hike though longer.
I agree with Aaron--what a fun place to hike and camp! This state park is very well maintained and the walk-in sites that back up to the creek are secluded and pretty. The only advice I'd offer is to wear long pants and sleeves when hiking; the chiggers are nasty!
This trail is a nice addition to the trail systems that exist throughout this very scenic state park, but there is nothing spectacular about the trail itself. In fact, it is a stretch to call most of it a hiking trail. However, the breezes from the lake are nice during certain times of the year, and it is relatively peaceful and calm throughout the seasons.
Village Creek State Park is one of the nicest state parks I have ever visited anywhere. Besides the new visitor center with small museum, there are pavillions for picnicking, newly updated cabins for overnight stays, numerous campsites, two large lakes with paddle boats and kayak rentals, stables and trailer parking, and so much more.
I have never done anything other than hike, but that alone is enough in this wonderful park. The 6.7-mile trail system is one of the best flat-land systems I have ever traversed. Traversing up and down Crowley's Ridge, it is a moderate hike that is somewhat challenging during stretches but helps the new hiker by flattening out in others and presenting modern conveniences such as bridges and wooden stairs near the visitor center and pavillions. However, the most alluring aspect of the system is the Trail of Tears section of the system.
Beginning at Lake Austell, four signs display the history of the Trail of Tears, particularly as it relates to this area of Arkansas. Four of the five major tribes traversed the region on their forced migration to present-day Oklahoma. Many smaller tribes joined in their sad exodus. These signs are the perfect foreground information to prepare you emotionally for the sight you are about to witness along the trail. After a short climb up wooden steps and a significantly upsloping dirt path, one exits at a forested trail. Another sign informs you that you have arrived at the original Trail of Tears, with this section perfectly preserved. Indeed, it is a sight to behold. Massive amounts of earth were removed by hand circa 1830 to carve a path through then swampland so that the "red devils" could migrate west. Being unfarmable land along the ridge, this section had remained largely unchanged until Arkansas purchased the land and made it safe for future citizens to enjoy this walk through history. As one walks along, massive trees sit aside the trail with exposed roots. The forest floor in places is several feet above one's head. One can imagine those poor souls walking this same trail almost 200 years prior, and the emotion is nearly overwhelming.
After the one-mile or so section abades, the trail returns to a gentle hike through forested land with diverging paths beyond. Though the trail system is only approximately 7 miles, the park boasts some 20 miles or so of multi-purpose trails. Hikers are allowed to hike/walk all of them, though only about 5 are designated for equestrians and 12 or so for cyclists.
So, whether you are a fan of exercise in the great outdoors or wishing to have a relaxing retreat, Village Creek State Park is the perfect place for you.