|Hike Name:||Bicentennial State Park - Spring River Canoe Trail|
|Trip Date:||April 25, 2007|
|Trip Weather:||Partly Cloudy, Cloudy|
|Trip Precipitation:||Rain, Showers, Thunderstorms|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 71-80, Low: 71-80 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||Had breakfast at the Embassy Suites Hotel this morning, then picked up Ray at a nearby Hampton Inn hotel. We drove to DSSI for a 9:30am meeting with the owner, then wrapped up around 11am. Dropped Ray off at his hotel, then headed south for tomorrow's meeting with AllSat in Springfield, MO. I planned to get some exercise this afternoon on a short trail in Missouri, but decided to head due south for Prarie State Park and make an attempt at knocking out hikes in KS, MO, OK, and AR this trip. This meant that I had the late afternoon/early evening to hit three states. The calculations on the GPS made it look feasible, and I arrived at Prarie State Park by 2:30pm as it predicted. Took a tour of the visitor's center, spoke with the administrator, then hiked about 1.5 miles east along the Drover's Trail. Buffalo were wandering in the distance, and I was warned to use extreme caution around them. The skies were bright blue at this point, and it was a beautiful afternoon for walking in the prarie. I finished the route within an hour, and headed for Oklahoma to find another hike.
The GPS took me to a little known, and slightly run-down state park across the border called the Bicentenial State Park. It seems that this place is also known for it's canoe trail along the Spring River and as you might guess also goes by Spring River Canoe Trails State Park. I have read that the locals like to party here, but only two fisherman were in the area during my visit. I started a walk along the river using an abandon road and planned to loop back to the parking area. The skies immediately stymied my plans, however, as a thunderstrom blew through the area and poured rain five minutes from the parking area. I sprinted back to the Saturn SUV and managed to stay dry for the most part.
The thunderstorm passed within thirty minutes, and gave way to mostly sunny skies and heavy winds. My goal is to hike at least a mile in every U.S. State, and the Bicentenical State Park hike failed to meet that criteria as a result of the storm. So I hunted for another hike with help from the GPS and passed through Twin Lakes State Park near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. Unsuccessful, I continued on toward Grand Lake and passed a visitor’s center near the bridge. A lady in the building was extremely helpful, offered maps to the nearby Bernice State Park, and suggested the nature trail that ran along Grand Lake. (The GPS missed this one for some reason although it’s usually very reliable). Drove to the nature center at by 5pm and hiked a great trail along the lake. It was paved in parts and primitive in other sections with viewing platforms and wildflower plots along the lake.
Finished the Bernice State Park hike within an hour and decided to head for the corner of Arkansas to squeeze in one more hike for the day. It was 7pm when I clearned Bentonville, AK and passed the fields at the Pea Ridge National Battlefield, but the gates were closed for the day and hiking was not an option. It looked like a cool place (the site of a Civil War battle in 1862), and I was disappointed with just over an hour of daylight left before sunset. Found a nearby state park at Beaver Lake on the map and tagged the GPS to get me there. Found out from the guy at the gate that a hiking trail was near the boat docks, so I paid the $4 entry fee and headed for the water. Drove to Beaver Lake and found a trailhead a short distance from the boat docks. It was nearly sunset, but I had a chance to get in a mile hike along the shores of the lake. The lake was calm, quiet, and reminded me of fishing at dusk in Canada as the sun fell behind the mountains. I was impressed with the Ozarks to say the least.
Made it back to the car by 8pm and snapped a photo of the last rays of the sun as I drove back to the ridge and headed north to Missouri. Drove to a Subway restaurant after about an hour and had dinner once I crossed the border. From here, it took me another hour to reach Springfield, and by the time I arrived at the Hampton Inn I was pretty wiped out. It was a banner day on the trail, and as I fell asleep in front of the TV I struggled to knock down a celebratory brew to mark the end of successful hikes in KS/OK/AK/MO.
FOOTNOTE: I later discovered that the hike I did at English Landing Park was actually just across the river in Missouri and not in Kansas. Bummer, guess I’ll be headed back there when I visit Omaha.