I should have known better than to plan a post about trails and greenways for the start of spring. It is Arkansas after all, which of course means it's snowing. I should have been ready for it, but I wasn't. I'm ready to get outside and enjoy the newly-bloomed flowers and trees. My kids are ready to feel the warm sunshine on their faces as they swing higher and higher trying to touch the sky. Their bikes, parked in the garage since Christmas, need to be christened on the trails, their wheels anxiously waiting to touch the dirt. Oh how we have longed for spring. So please, no more tricks Mother Nature, we beg of you.
I have what I consider an intimate bond or relationship with Rogers and her trails. They hold a special place in my heart. I have formed life-long friendships on her serene trails that are so plentiful they have allowed me to chase my dreams one mile at a time, one foot in front of the other. Exploring the city on foot has allowed me to get to know her from a special point of view. Little shops tucked in corners, hidden parks strewn through town, gorgeous waterways that provide breath-taking scenes and old shade trees to catch my breath... all things you might miss as you rush by in a car. Rogers has seen me at my worst, crouched and crying not wanting to take another step. She's seen me at my best, enjoying the breeze and feeling like I could run forever. It's this type of connection that makes me want to head outside and get to know her a little better on a beautiful day. I encourage you to get to know her too. Take a stroll, bike ride or just bring a blanket and enjoy the scenery and sounds of kids playing from one of the city's many trails or parks.
Where to Start?
Since our hibernation last fall, a lot has happened in Rogers. New trails have been completed and new parks are in the works. When complete, the Rogers Greenway and Trails System is planned to loop nearly 60 miles throughout the city. What's beautiful about Rogers and other surrounding cities, is that there are plentiful (and wide) sidewalks that can be utilized along with the trail system so that you can pretty much get anywhere you want in Rogers on foot. I'm going to break down the major trailheads and let you decide the route from there... so lace up and get ready to go! *Blog note: Please visit the Rogers Parks Department website for a complete list of trails and parks*.
Mercy Hospital Trailhead
If you drive 540, then I'm sure you noticed the "bridge to nowhere" now goes somewhere! You can explore the city's newest trail on your own and find out just where that bridge takes you. To get to the Mercy Trailhead turn west onto Rife Medical Lane off Promenade Blvd just north of Best Buy. From the trailhead, you have easy access to the trail that runs south over the bridge and north past Home Depot. I love this new little stretch of trail that is about 2.3 miles from end-to-end. I felt so "big city" running under several bridges and overpasses as cars and trucks traveled overhead, hurrying home from their long day at work. Lots of green space surrounds the trail, which is ideal for picnics, football or whatever else you want to do there. In the future, the hope is to have a restroom and play area for kids when funds become available. This section will also eventually connect to other city trails and all of northwest Arkansas as a part of the 36-mile Razorback Greenway, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
Horsebarn Park and Trailhead is one of my favorites (and not because it connects to the Bentonville trail system, which takes you RIGHT BY Krispe Kreme. Ok, maybe that is part of the reason... for the kids of course). The trailhead is located just south of Walton Blvd. on 52nd St. in Rogers. There is a great park with slides, swings and fun things to climb on for the kids as well as an outdoor gym of sorts for adults. There are plenty of shaded areas, a creek to splash around in and picnic tables for lunch, so it's the perfect spot for a hot, sunny day! Another unique feature of this park is the rain garden, which is the largest one in northwest Arkansas. To get on the trail, you'll cross a creek using a quaint little bridge. You can take a short, shaded path to the north or turn right and head south along another beautiful path that meanders through trees, an office park and open areas all the way to Village on the Creeks. At the intersection of New Hope Road and Horsebarn, you will run right into Osage Creek Trail. This picturesque trail runs along Osage Creek, or more noticeably, in the shadows of three giant crosses watching over this area. Once completed, the Osage Creek Trail will be 9 miles long and will pass through residential sections as well as shopping and dining areas Village on the Creeks and The Shoppes at Pinnacle Hills. *Visitors staying at Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites or Aloft, this is near you, so take a break and head outdoors!*
Blossom Way Trailhead
The Blossom Way Trailhead begins on the south side of Rogers High School on Dixieland Road. The Blossom Way Trail was the first section constructed after the city developed its Master Trail Plan. There are a few reasons to throw this trail on your must-see list. For starters, this section of trail includes two 90-foot bridges and a 54-foot bridge each constructed from former railroad cars, which is pretty neat in itself. There's also a tree-covered section of trail that winds along the Blossom Way Creek, providing a beautiful setting and opportunities for spotting wildlife. The trail also includes walking paths through and around Veteran’s Park. And if you didn't think that was enough, the trailhead is also home to the Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders Community Bike Program. During the summer months, refurbished bikes will be placed at the trailhead for public use on the trail. The group hopes to expand the Community Bike Program to other trailheads in the city this summer. When complete, this trail will stretch from Lake Atalanta in northeast Rogers to the Osage Creek area to the west, and link with both the Turtle Creek Trail and the Mt. Hebron Trail.
The Cambridge Park and Trailhead is located in the northwest part of the city and is a favorite for kids. You can get to it by turning north on West 37th Street off of Olive Street. Not only is there a great pavilion for picnics and park for hours of playing, but the trail surrounding the park is very unique. Part of the trail winds through a wetland with an extensive boardwalk, offering glimpses of wildlife (not so much lions, tigers and bears, as it is birds, squirrels and bunnies). This trail stretches northward to connect with the Bentonville trail system at the Northwest Arkansas Community College campus. From this trailhead, you can also jump onto one of the city's core trail sections, the Turtle Creek Trail, which winds through a number of residential areas of town providing vital walking and biking connections between the city’s parks, including Northwest Park, the Olive Street Park and Dock Wheeler Park, where the new water park is being constructed and opens May 2013! This trail also connects you to the new sports park and trailhead located at North Dixieland Road and Hudson Road (Highway 62).
Lake Atalanta Trail
The Lake Atalanta Trail begins at the end of Poplar Street with a nature hike down the hill from Historic Downtown Rogers. The natural trail is a narrow path winding through the wooded hillside to the recreational area and walking trail surrounding Lake Atalanta. It offers a sight-seeing stop at the site of the historic Frisco Spring, which is marked with signs explaining the spring’s legacy of once providing water for the Frisco Railroad. Along the forested hillside section, the Lake Atalanta Trail includes benches and a couple of wooden foot bridges crossing a wet-weather stream. The trail eventually reaches the 35-acre man-made lake, where you can fish until your heart's content. You'll also find the city's second-oldest park here, complete with playground equipment, picnic tables and large shade trees. You can take a well-traveled dirt road that wraps around the lake either on foot or by car to see the lake from all angles.
What are your favorite Rogers trails? Do you love to picnic at the parks, play fetch with your dogs or bike your way around town? Comment below and let us know!