14-Mile RIver Corridor Trail Opens at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area

Zoie Clift

Joan Ellison of Arkansas State Parks has compiled some great detailed information on the new trail at Cossatot. I can’t wait to head that way and check it out. What about you? The full details she sent are below. Enjoy!
Following two years of construction, the 14-mile River
Corridor Trail at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area opened this weekend in
Wickes. The trailhead is located at the park’s Brushy Creek Recreational Area
on Ark. 246, around eight miles east of Vandervoort.

The trail winds through scenic Ouachita Mountain
terrain in both Howard and Polk County and connects with major river access
points along the Cossatot River corridor including Cossatot Falls. Hikers have
the option of walking the entire route or choosing a segment. The trail is
excellent for a two-to-three-day backpacking excursion and hikers are asked to
camp at the park’s designated camping sites located at the Cossatot Falls Area,
Sandbar Area and the Ed Bank Area, or the undeveloped U.S. 278 Access.

According to Park Superintendent Stan Speight, “Because
the River Corridor Trail is divided into three sections, hikers have the
opportunity to choose a trail length that best fits the amount of time they have
to go hiking.”  He noted the shortest segment is the middle section which
stretches two miles in length. “Trail enthusiasts can enjoy a morning or
afternoon hike, an all-day hike, or a weekend of adventure experiencing the entire
14 miles,” he said.  “And
since the trail follows the Cossatot River corridor, each segment offers the
opportunity to experience the seasonal natural beauty along this wild and
scenic river.” 

Speight said the first section from the trail head at
Brushy Creek to the Ed Banks low water bridge is five miles. The second section
from Ed Banks to Cossatot Falls is two miles and the last section from Cossatot
Falls to the Highway 278 Access is seven miles. “The Cossatot Falls section
well above the high water line actually parallels the Cossatot Falls and offers
some great vistas of this birthplace of the park natural area,” he said. “The
major work on the trail involved the creation of a good walking tread which
makes the trail a very enjoyable hike. In addition there are 36 bridges that
allow hikers to traverse the numerous drainages that intersect the trail. The
real showcase of the trail though is its natural beauty from high vistas of the
river to some of the most interesting geological formations in the Ouachitas. There
are a number of small waterfalls visible from the trail as water cascades off
the upland slopes. It is a trail for all seasons. Whether you are a trail
runner, hiker, nature lover, or photographer, this trail was built with you in

The trail was built utilizing park staff, five
AmeriCorps teams, and the Arkansas State Parks Trails Crew. The 5,300-acre
CRSPNA is managed jointly by Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Natural
Heritage Commission. It is one of the 52 Arkansas state parks and 67 state
natural areas.  Located south of Mena in Polk and Howard counties, it
stretches for 12 miles along the Cossatot River, a National Wild and Scenic
River renowned as one of the most rugged river corridors in the central U. S.  The state park-natural area includes rugged
wooded slopes, geological features and clear waters of the river. The park
extends from the Ouachita National Forest near the Ark. 246 bridge on the north
to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ landholdings on Gillham Lake south of U.S.
278. The Cossatot River, a major tributary of the Little River, is Arkansas’s
premier whitewater experience for kayakers and canoeists.The northern route to
the park is via Ark. 246 between Vandervoort and Athens.  The southern
route is via U.S. 278 between Wickes and Umpire. For more information, contact Stan
Speight at 870-385-2201.
Posted in Travel Arkansas

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