Monument Trails, a collection of destination mountain biking trails merging world-class riding with architecture, art and nature, have already started to open in several Arkansas State Parks.
Monument Trails take an adventure-minded approach to trails while ensuring accessibility for riders and hikers of every skill level.
Through extraordinary and varied mountain bike riding, innovative build techniques by some of the nation’s best trail builders, and the unique terrain and topography of the Arkansas State Parks, Monument Trails are truly special.
The trails began opening in June, 2019 and were designed and built for opportunities to engage with nature by way of biking, camping, fishing and hiking as well as establishing purpose-built stopping points and installations highlighting the state parks’ natural beauty.
“The Monument Trails are designed with an entire family in mind. The simple goal is to provide an unforgettable experience along the trail that will inspire you to seek, find and discover our state and build a sense of pride and appreciation,” said Suzanne Grobmyer, executive director of the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation. “The Monument Trails are going to change the dynamic for communities across the state by improving quality of life and creating new economic activity.”
Monument Trails are a project of the recently-established nonprofit organization Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation (APRF). The foundation is funded through private donations and grants. A $2 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation supported the development of the first Monument Trail at Hobbs State Park.
“Trails are a signature characteristic of the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas and an economic engine for tourism in the region,” said Tom Walton, Walton Family Foundation Home Region Committee chair. “Monument Trails can expand those transformative benefits to more communities through world-class ride experiences in state parks across Arkansas.”
The Monument Trails will expand access to extraordinary trail systems in state parks throughout Arkansas. Work is underway developing designs and future plans in 2019, including trail systems at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Mount Nebo State Park in Dardanelle and Devil’s Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas.
The partnership with Arkansas State Parks is the first of its kind and was in line with the vision of Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann, who said the partnership represents an opportunity to showcase the natural and iconic beauty of the parks.
“Something setting Arkansas State Parks apart from other natural areas is the encouragement guests are given to engage with the resources,” Spann said. “By building the Monument Trails, we’re focusing on increased recreational opportunities, educating visitors on resource conservation, and enhancing the economy through trail-based tourism – all while maintaining low-impact development on park resources.”
Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation Trail Project Manager Amber Chambers has overseen much of the direct trail building efforts. Her unique view into the work of building the trail system has given her a deep appreciation for the vision of Monument Trails.
“I’ve seen thousands of miles of trails across the U.S., and the thoughtful design and experience we’re building into our parks is going to be something special,” Chambers said. “The aim for accessibility, coupled with truly unique outdoor opportunities, will allow the Monument Trails to stand alongside the greatest trails in the country.”
Upon completion, the Monument Trails will be home to purpose-built art or architectural features, special camping spaces, and viewing areas on some of the state’s most scenic vistas.
“Monument Trails are overall access points for adventure in Arkansas,” Grobmyer said. “They take all users into consideration, whether you’re looking for a world-class mountain biking trip, a leisurely ride with beautiful stops, a short bike packing opportunity to a secluded campsite, or just a beautiful hike.”
The first Monument Trail opened to the public will be at Hobbs State Park in June, 2019.