Who doesn’t love the fiery colors of fall? We’re blessed with beautiful hues and saturation of leaves in our national forests in Arkansas, and people take advantage of the views by driving and hiking through these areas.
Arkansas.com keeps you up to date on the changing leaves throughout each region of The Natural State. Here you’ll find information on where and when to go, and what roads to take. The official state tourism site also provides a link to live fall color web cam shots from these state parks: Lake Fort Smith, Logoly, Bull Shoals-White River, and Mount Magazine.
I recently received some information from the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau on places to see autumn colors in that area of the state. Terry Cook, executive director of the CVB, says you don’t even have to leave town. He’s suggests visiting the Maplewood Cemetery in the heart of Harrison. The older part of the cemetery hosts over 733 mature maple trees that traditionally show their fall colors during the later part of October.
He also provided information on three scenic drives that originate in Harrison:
1. Leave the Harrison Square heading south on Highway 7. Turn right on Arkansas Highway 43 toward Compton and Ponca. Five miles out of Harrison you’ll climb Gaither Mountain. Be sure and stop at the overlook (on the left) when you reach the summit. This is one of the best views that you will see of the Harrison area. You’ll then pass through Compton and on to Ponca. The three mile descent into Ponca offers spectacular views off the right side of your car. As you pass through Ponca be sure to look for elk in the field just before you turn left on Highway 74 and cross the Buffalo National River. Once you have negotiated the several switch backs up the mountain, consider the short jaunt (left turn) down to Steel Creek on the Buffalo. If the timing is right, the bluffs across the river should be ablaze with fall color. Head back up the hill and turn left back on Highway 74 towards Jasper. About half way you’ll pass through Low Gap, and a side trip down into this remote Arkansas hamlet should be worth the time. Jasper is the county seat of Newton County, one of Arkansas’ least populated (less than 8,000 residents). Circle the tiny square and head north to Harrison via Scenic Highway 7. You’ll cross the Buffalo again at Pruitt, and the bluff on the left side of the road might just surprise you. Harrison is a short drive from Pruitt. Total miles roundtrip – 62 miles.
2. Take the same route out of Harrison. Five miles past Compton, turn right on Highway 103 toward Osage. When you arrive in Osage, be sure and stop at the Stamps store. It’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. After you leave the store, turn right on U.S. 412 and head back to Harrison through Alpena. At the stop sign, turn right. After three miles, turn right on Highway 392 back to Harrison. Just after you pass through Batavia, Pilot’s Knob will be on your right. You’ll come back into Harrison at the square. Total miles roundtrip – 51 miles.
3. Take Highway 7 north from Harrison to Bergman. Just past Bergman, turn left on Highway 281. After seven miles, turn right on Highway 14 back towards Lead Hill. A left turn in Lead Hill back on Highway 7 will take you to Diamond City on Bull Shoals Lake. Retreat back to Harrison via Highway 7. Total miles roundtrip – 53 miles.
Cook says you can call ahead for a report on fall color in his area. There are numerous hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts for overnight accommodations in Harrison, along with many places to eat and shop. Contact the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau at 780-741-1789 or visit their website at http://www.harrisonarkansas.org/for additional information.