New Canoe/Kayak Water Trail Opens at Arkansas Post


Arkansas Post Water Trail. Photo by Z. Clift

A new water trail at Arkansas Post in Gillett just opened as part of
the Arkansas Water Trails program. The project, initiated by the Arkansas Game
& Fish Commission (AGFC) was launched to create a system of water trails
throughout the state.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, paddling is one of the fastest growing recreational sports in the nation. And the state is prime territory for it. Arkansas has more than 9,000 miles of rivers, streams and bayous.

Paddling the water trail. Photo by Z. Clift

Heading the program is Kirsten Bartlow, the Watchable Wildlife Coordinator for AGFC.  Bartlow dedicated the opening of the trail this weekend by leading a tour of the new 5-mile water trail.

At safe water levels, the bayous of Arkansas Post are flat-water paddles and a shuttle vehicle is not needed. Vegetation ( like the many many beautiful and gigantic lily pads we saw on the water) may slow travel during the summer but paddlers can adjust the route to suite conditions. We
also saw a huge beaver dam, great egrets, many many tiny frogs ( that would jump in the canoe and hitchhike a ride) and bald cypress, cottonwood, sycamore and persimmon trees. Other wildlife that make their home their include alligators but unfortunately we didn’t see one this venture out. ( Yes I want to see one! From a safe distance of course).
Barge passing. Photo by Z. Clift

Of note, don’t enter the Arkansas River channel at the south end of the Arkansas Post National Memorial. The route is blocked off by rocks
for a reason. On our tour a huge barge passed by in the channel, which was a
picturesque sight to see from the water. (But again, best viewed from a safe

As to the history of the area, American Indians, European explorers, hunters and trappers paddled this water. Arkansas Post began in 1686 as French traders bought furs from Quapaw villages. The fur trade drew settlers through 1819 when Arkansas became a territory. Colbert’s Raid, the only Revolutionary War battle in Arkansas, occurred here in 1783, and the Civil War Battle of Arkansas Post was in 1863.  After paddling, you can continue your adventure by checking out the nearby Arkansas Post National Memorial and the Arkansas Post Museum.
The trailhead is at Moore Bayou Access. To get here from Highway 65 at Gould, travel east on Highway 212 for 11.8 miles. Turn left on U.S. Highway 165 and travel 4.3 miles north. Turn right on Highway 169, go 1 mile east and turn right to Moore Bayou Access. AGFC has partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, and the Arkansas Canoe Club for
this water trail.
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