History & Heritage Trail

Some of the most epic events in American history came right through The Natural State: The Trail of Tears, the Old Southwest Trail, Civil War routes, and Butterfield Stage Line. The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Old Southwest Trail is also known as the National Road and the Old Military Road. It was one of the first permanent roads across Arkansas. Thousands of settlers used this path to reach Arkansas and Texas. Both Confederate and Union forces trekked through Arkansas, either on their way to battles or engaging in battles along the way. The Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Line operated from 1857-1861 and carried passengers and mail. The two eastern termini converged in Fort Smith before continuing on into Indian Territory and the western U.S. Trace these historic footsteps by following a heritage trail.

  1. Cadron Settlement Park

    Conway
    A National Historic Site; facilities include the Blockhouse restoration, the Cherokee Trail of Tears exhibits, a boat launching ramp, hiking trails, restrooms, picnic areas, pavilion, handicapped trails and parking areas, historical mural of this pioneer settlement, markers, and interpretive signs. This port on the Arkansas River was also a stopping spot for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Both the Trail of Tears and the Butterfield Trail are part of the Arkansas Historic Trails System.

  2. North Shore Riverwalk

    North Little Rock
    Located on the north side of the Arkansas River, this park offers picturesque views, lighted walkways and a jogging/fitness trail. North River Landing off I-30 near the Broadway exit is a large boat launching ramp. Part of the Arkansas River Trail; connects to the Junction Bridge Pedestrian & Bicycling Bridge. Seven interpretive panels commemorating the Cherokee Trail of Tears and similar forced migrations by the other Four Civilized Tribes are located along the path. The site is located in the immediate vicinity of a large number of (north-south) land migration routes and (east-west) water migration routes for the Cherokee and other southeastern tribes during the 1830s and 1840s.
  3. Blue Spring Heritage Center & Gardens

    Eureka Springs
    Historic Blue Spring, which was a stop on the Trail of Tears, pours 38 million gallons of water each day into its trout-stocked, vivid blue lagoon. View the historic film, stroll the garden paths and visit the bluff shelter on the National Register. The new gardens demonstrate crops, plants, flowers and healing herbs at home in the Ozarks.
  4. Petit Jean State Park

    Morrilton
    The flagship of the state parks system built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, features Mather Lodge and Restaurant, cabins, swimming pools, campground and fly-in campground, boating and fishing on Lake Bailey, visitor center exhibits. Twenty miles of hiking trails; 95-foot-high Cedar Falls, the park's focal point. Pets must be leashed at all times. Boat dock offers boat, motor, pedal boat and water bike rentals; boathouse offers snack bar, boat rental supplies in summer. Overlooks at the east and west ends of Petit Jean Mountain provide dramatic vistas of the Arkansas River, the water route of the Trail of Tears, a Congress- designated National Historic Trail. Named by Camping Life magazine as number one on their list of the nation's Top 10 State Parks.
  5. Pinnacle Mountain State Park/Arkansas Arboretum

    Little Rock
    Recreation, environmental education and conservation park; activities include interpretive programs, festivals, exhibits, picnic sites, pavilions, launching ramps, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, horseback riding concession, the Arkansas Arboretum, canoe and kayak rentals and floats, barge tours, paddle boats, technical rock climbing, fishing, hayrides, star parties; Overlooks at the park visitor center provide spectacular views of the water route of the Trail of Tears, a Congress-designated National Historic Trail.
  6. Village Creek State Park

    Wynne
    Ten fully equipped cabins; championship golf course; pavilions, playgrounds, baseball and multi-use fields, driving range; visitor center, bicycle rental; hiking and horseback riding trails, tennis; boat dock and ramp, fishing and pedal boats; swim beach, interpretive center, meeting facility. Lakes Austell and Dunn stocked with bass, bream, crappie and channel catfish. Leashed pets only. Horse camp with campsites and horse stalls, horse wash bays. A section of Bell's route of the Trail of Tears, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, runs through the park.. This segment of the old Memphis-to-Little Rock road is cut deep into the Crowley's Ridge soil, and has been touted as the most dramatic remaining section of the Indian removal route.
  7. Delta Cultural Center

    Helena-West Helena
    Exhibits interpret the natural and human history of Arkansas’s Delta region. Included are interactive audio and video exhibits chronicling the rise of Delta blues and gospel music; traveling and permanent music exhibits are in the Visitors Center at 141 Cherry St. Permanent history exhibits -- The Civil War in the Arkansas Delta and A Heritage of Determination -- are in the Depot at 95 Missouri St. The legendary King Biscuit Time radio show is broadcast live from the center daily. Helena witnessed the forced migration of thousands of Cherokee along the "water route" to Indian Territory during the summer of 1838.
  8. Lake Dardanelle State Park

    Russellville
    Two park locations on 34,000-acre lake: Russellville (main park) and Dardanelle. Bass fishing, boat ramps, hiking trails, lake tours, pavilion, visitor center with interactive exhibits, campground, marina, miniature golf. The park is an NPS-certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The Western Cherokee settled near here in the late 1700s, and established towns, plantations, and the Dwight Mission School. Almost 50 years later, the Trail of Tears brought all five tribes through here by water or land. This is one of the few locations where stories of all five tribes can be told. Trail of Tears exhibit in visitor center.
  9. Mount Nebo State Park

    Dardanelle
    Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s; campsites, fully equipped cabins; trails encircle the mountain; pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, playground, pavilions, ball field; visitor center with exhibits, store, bicycle rentals. Pets must be leashed at all times. Historic Cornwell House contains exhibits about legacy of the mountain, including the teachers college, the grand resorts, the CCC, and the Cornwell Family that last owned the home. (Trailers over 24 feet should not attempt the climb.). Scenic overlooks at Sunrise Point and Sunset Point provide dramatic vistas of the Arkansas River, the water route of the Congress-designated National Historic Trail of Tears. It also overlooks the area where the Western Cherokee settled in the late 1700s.
  10. Randolph County Heritage Museum

    Pocahontas
    Located on the historic Pocahontas Court Square, the museum tells the story of the Randolph County area from its earliest history to present with permanent and traveling exhibits, special presentations, interactive exhibits, informational programs. In 1838, portions of what is now Ark. 166 was the route the Trail of Tears took into Arkansas and across Randolph County.
  11. Fort Smith National Historic Site

    Fort Smith
    The site contains the remains of two frontier garrisons, Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas, "Hangin' Judge" Isaac C. Parker's courtroom, reproduction of the 1886 gallows, the "Hell on the Border" jail, a Trail of Tears Overlook; the 1846 Commissary; exhibits on the army at Fort Smith (1817-1871), and the federal court including deputy marshals and outlaws. The original fort is a stop on the National Trail of Tears Scenic Trail. This site was seized by Rebel troops on April 23, 1863 and then recaptured by Federal forces two years later. It was a strategic point for both sides during the Civil War.
  12. Sequoyah National Research Center

    Little Rock
    Located on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus, the center is the largest assemblage of Native American expression in the world. Searchable, on-line archives and library catalogs; mission of the program is to acquire and preserve the writings and ideas of Native North Americans. Open to the public Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Trail of Tears Park is 4.5 acres planted with native trees, grasses, and other species that travelers along the trail might have seen and experienced.
  13. Trail of Tears Park & Historic Site

    Fayetteville
    Location of an encampment of approximately 1,200 Cherokee who, on January 13, 1839, were on a forced march from their homeland in the southern Appalachians to what is now Okla; now know as The Trail of Tears. The University of Arkansas now sits on the site at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. and Garland Street. Open to the public on a daily basis. A native stone sculpture and memorial plaque are in a grove of trees on the south side of the university soccer field.
  14. Pea Ridge National Military Park

    Pea Ridge
    Perhaps the best-preserved Civil War battlefield in Arkansas, this 4,300-acre national historic site includes a seven-mile, self-guided auto tour road with 10 stops; a museum; trails; bookstore and visitor center. The March 7-8, 1862 battle was one of the largest fought west of the Mississippi, between 10,500 Union troops and 16,200 Confederate troops. The decisive Union victory ensured that Missouri would remain in Federal control. A marker at historic Elkhorn Tavern explains the Trail of Tears route (Elkhorn Tavern Segments) that went through the park; Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
  15. Potts Inn Museum

    Pottsville
    One of the best preserved stagecoach stations on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, this restored antebellum home built circa 1850 has period furnishings. Five log structures are located on the grounds and house hat and clothing collections from 1870 on, new “dress-up” trunk area for children, antique farm equipment and historic photos. Large gazebo on grounds popular for weddings.
  16. Historic Washington State Park

    Washington
    Interprets the 19th century town from 1824-1875; surrey tours of the Confederate Capitol, re-created Morrison Tavern Inn, Blacksmith Shop where the first Bowie Knife was forged, Weapons Museum, residences, print museum, steam-powered cotton gin, Williams Tavern Restaurant, Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, 1874 Courthouse. The 1836 County Courthouse was the Confederate State Capitol after Union forces captured Little Rock in September 1863. Famous travelers along the Southwest Trail included Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett. All stopped at the town’s tavern inns available in their day. The Morrison Tavern Inn replica stands on the same spot as the original along Ark. 195, the Old Southwest Trail. Recipient of a 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
  17. Devil's Den State Park

    West Fork
    Hiking, backpacking, equestrian and mountain bike trails in Lee Creek Valley; fully equipped Civilian Conservation Corps cabins; cafe, playground, pool, RV and tent camping, swimming pool, nature and interpretive programs. Pets must be leashed at all times. Horse camp has sites with water, electricity, bathhouse and access to the horse trails. The valley's crevices, caves, bluffs, ravines, rock shelters and crevices provided excellent hiding places for outlaws waiting for the Buttefield Overland Mail Stage Line (1858-1861) which passed through the area. The park's overnight hiking trail is named for it These same routes were also used by Confederate insurgents as a staging area for conducting raids on Union Army supply lines.
  18. Prairie Grove Battlefield Historic State Park

    Prairie Grove
    On December 7, 1862, the Confederates attempted to stop Union forces from advancing south, with Fort Smith ultimately being at stake. One-mile walking trail with markers telling about the battle, pre-Civil War Ozark Village open for tours, picnic tables, playground, museum with artillery and weapons from the battle; two videos about the battle
  19. Jenkins Ferry Battleground State Park

    Sheridan
    General Steele's Federal troops were desperately trying to cross the river in flooded, foggy conditions when the Confederates began their attack. The battlefield, now largely in timber production, is still prone to heavy spring flooding, as it was when the two armies met there on April 30, 1864. It was the last major Arkansas battle in the Camden Expedition of the Red River Campaign. Picnic area.
  20. Poison Springs Battleground State Park

    Bluff City
    The site of an April 18, 1864 battle in which Confederate troops attacked and decimated a Union supply train bringing badly needed materials to Camden. The battle, in which the First Kansas Colored Regiment suffered disproportionately high casualties, remains one of the most controversial in Arkansas history. Part of the Red River Campaign; park includes a trail, picnic area, outdoor exhibits about the battlefield. A part of the National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
  21. Scott Plantation Settlement

    Scott
    Depicts early farming life from statehood through mechanization; original area working plantation structures include a hand-hewn cypress corncrib, 1840s dog trot log cabin, Big House from one of the local plantations; commissary, one-room schools, doctor’s office, tenant houses, blacksmith shop. Guided walking tours Thurs.-Sat.; scheduled group tours available; Civil War interpretive sign explains the Battle of Ashley’s Mill, part of the 1863 Little Rock Campaign conducted by Union General Frederick Steele that led to the fall of Little Rock in 1863.
  22. Arkansas Post National Memorial

    Gillett
    The first European settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley region, Arkansas Post became part of the United States during the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. By 1819, the post was a thriving river port and the largest city in the region and selected the capital of the Arkansas Territory. The park contains the January 11, 1863 Arkansas Post battlefield where vastly superior numbers of Union troops under major General John McClernand defeated Confederate defenders under Brigadier General Thomas Churchill. While Fort Hindman now lies beneath the Arkansas River, there are still remnants of Confederate trenches. The battle, as well as the rest of Arkansas Post's rich history, is interpreted at the park museum. Tour guides are available but must be requested for in advance.
  23. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

    Little Rock
    Located in the historic tower building of the Old Arsenal, a National Historic Landmark. Birthplace of General Douglas MacArthur in 1880, the building now houses a museum of Arkansas's military heritage from Territorial days to present. World War Ii exhibits includes the Allison Collection, over 400 original photos, and the Jeep during the war. An Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Historical Marker is located on the museum grounds. Civil War exhibits include the Camden Campaign and David O. Dodd, boy martyr of the Confederacy.
  24. Fort Smith Museum of History

    Fort Smith
    Exhibits of the rich Fort Smith area history, old-fashioned drug store and working soda fountain; a marker notes the city's location on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route; located in the former Atkinson-Williams Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  25. Marks' Mills Battleground State Park

    Fordyce
    The site of an April 25, 1864 fight in which Confederate Calvary ambushed and captured a Union supply train along with the brigade of Federal troops guarding it, forcing General Frederick Steele to abandon Camden and return to Little Rock due to a lack of supplies; part of the Red River Campaign. The area, reportedly heavily wooded at the time of the battle, appears much the same way today.
  26. Marks' Mills Cemetery

    Fordyce
    Features an intact section of the Camden-Pine Bluff Road, where one of Union General Frederick Steele's foraging parties was ambushed and decimated by Confederates under General James Fagan on April 25, 1864. The Union suffered 1,500 casualties; part of the Red River Campaign. Details of the battle are available at wayside exhibits. Burials dating from 1843 include prominent south Arkansas pioneer families. Site of initial interment of Union dead from Battle of Marks’ Mills. Honors 1864 Civil War battle and has displays, nature and hiking trails.
  27. Freedom Park

    Helena-West Helena
    One of more than 25 Civil War interpretive sites located throughout historic Helena and Phillips County. The park includes five major exhibits that explore the African-American experience in Civil War Helena. The exhibits follow the journey of the African-Americans from fugitive slave to freedom; and for some, enlistment in the Union Army and participation in the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation exhibit will be the centerpiece of the park. Freedom Park is the first site in Arkansas to be designated for inclusion on the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.
  28. Fort Curtis

    Helena-West Helena
    Reproduction of the Union Civil War fort in historic downtown Helena; a part of Helena’s Civil War multi-faceted heritage that includes Federal occupation, seven Confederate generals, and an encampment of thousands of freed slaves. In August 1862 the Union forces occupying Helena erected a redoubt of earth and timbers to serve as the key to the city's defenses. Fort Curtis, named for the Union general in command, was one of five fortified positions which enabled Union soldiers to repulse a Confederate attack on July 4, 1863, designed to recapture the city and relieve the siege at Vicksburg. On the day of the attack 4,129 Union officers and men, under Gen. Prentiss, were positioned in and around the fort against 7,646 Confederate troops under General Holmes.
  29. Confederate Cemetery

    Helena-West Helena
    Historic cemetery lies on the upsurge of Crowley's Ridge at the northern edge of town. Burial place of Helena resident Gen. Patrick Cleburne, known as "the Stonewall Jackson of the West."
  30. Helena Museum of Phillips County

    Helena-West Helena
    Housed in an 1891 National Register of Historic Places building; artifacts include early paintings, Thomas Edison Collection, Native American, letters from General Lafayette, General Robert E. Lee, Civil War; Maple Hill Cemetery Diorama; bronze statue of Gen. Patrick Cleburne. Be on the look-out for Maybelle, the museum's resident ghost.
  31. Maple Hill Cemetery

    Helena-West Helena
    Historic cemetery on Crowley’s Ridge at the northern edge of town. Burial place of casualties of the Battle of Helena and several Confederate generals, including Helena resident Gen. Patrick Cleburne, known as “the Stonewall Jackson of the West." Helena is known for being the home of seven generals.
  32. McCollum-Chidester House

    Camden
    Built for Peter McCollum in 1847, this museum features some of the original furnishings which were brought up the Mississippi by steamboat from New Orleans in 1863. During the Red River Campaign of the Civil War, the home was first occupied by Confederate General Sterling Price, then Union General Frederick Steele. Bullet holes and damage by cannon-fire can still be seen in the home; open for tours.
  33. Fort Southerland Park

    Camden
    Fort Southerland (also known as Fort Diamond) and Fort Lookout were both part of the formidable fortifications started by Confederate troops and improved by Federal soldiers during their 1864 occupation of Camden. Fort Sutherland is accessible to the public, is explained through markers at the site, and has picnic areas. Fort Lookout is privately-owned and not accessible.
  34. Reed's Bridge Battlefield Heritage Park

    Jacksonville
    Includes an1860-era replica homestead, a walking trail with narrative historical markers highlighting the 1863 Little Rock Campaign Civil War Battle as Union soldiers tried to punch their way south while Rebel Troops tried to protect the Capitol. listed on the National Register of Historic Places; an official Trail of Tears site. Special events held throughout the year. GROUPS: Available for weddings and special events; bus parking available. Reservations made through Jacksonville Museum of Military Museum.
  35. Jacksonville Military History Museum

    Jacksonville
    Explores both battlefield and home front, with exhibits on the Civil War in Arkansas including the Battle of Reed’s Bridge, WWII-era Arkansas Ordinance Plant, 3-D Gulf War outpost; interactive Titan II Missile Launch Control exhibit; a 360-degree C-130 virtual tour; the Mighty-Mite, smallest jeep ever produced.