If you crave urban culture balanced with outdoor recreation amid pristine nature, then this Southern city will resonate with you.
In and around Arkansas’ capital city, arrange a kayaking excursion along a waterway lined with ancient cypress trees or scale the forested trails up to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain. Top off your paddling trip or scenic hike with a celebratory stop at one of the unique local breweries Little Rock is known for. You’ve earned it.
Rambling Along the Arkansas River Trail
The Arkansas River Trail is a beloved locale. Get in on the action at this massive urban trail that strings together 38 parks and six museums and runs through the Riverfront Park downtown. If you’re a cyclist, odds are you’re going to love the 142-kilometer Grand Loop, pedaling through forested wetlands to wide open spaces. Here, hikers and cyclists can cross over four pedestrian bridges spanning the river including the Big Dam Bridge, the world’s longest pedestrian/cyclist bridge created for that purpose. Paddlers – whether via kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board – can count on a nice breeze while splashing along the scenic Arkansas River. Keep a lookout for great blue herons, quail, egrets, turtles and deer – this is their space too.
The Magic of Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Tucked in the Arkansas River Valley, this mountain retreat is only a 25-minute drive from the city. Grab your backpack and hike to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, a central Arkansas landmark; it’s an easy journey up the western slope with picturesque views. If you time it right, you can catch a spectacular sunset from the summit. Want to get out on the water? Rent a pedal boat, canoe or kayak for an afternoon of fun. Mountain bikers seeking a leisure ride should hop on the Rabbit Ridge, a quick and easy trail. For a moderate to advanced biking trail, head to the Jackfork trail filled with rocks, roots and steep climbs and descents. These are part of the park's 22 kilometers of Monument Trails, a statewide system designed to get cyclists, hikers and runners even closer to nature throughout Arkansas.
Worth the Climb: Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area
Pinnacle Mountain isn’t the only attraction near Pinnacle Mountain State Park; there’s another nature trek worth adding to your plans. Situated on over 150 hectares five minutes from the park, the Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area can be enjoyed via bike or foot on intermediate multi-use trails. Wind through trails amid pine trees with views of the Ouachita Mountains. It’s a fine way to spend an afternoon, especially when the forested terrain gives way to peaceful views of the Big and Little Maumelle rivers below.
An epic view of the Ouachita Mountains from Rattlesnake Ridge
300-Year-Old Cypress Trees at Fourche Creek Wetlands
Thanks to a local conservation effort, Fourche Creek Wetlands has transformed into a serene natural escape all within the Little Rock city limits. Head to the Fourche Bottoms for the most scenic spot within the wetlands, which is nestled between two city parks. Flowing for more than 720 hectares, these urban wetlands are known for a high concentration of flora and fauna including 200 species of birds. Glide past ancient cypress trees in Fourche Creek on a restorative paddle trip to the natural soundtrack of bird song.
A peaceful autumn day at Fourche Creek Wetlands
Local ‘Hop Spots’
Craft beer is a big thing in Little Rock. Pair it with your outdoor jaunts post-adventure. Continue the nature theme with a visit to Lost Forty Brewing. Inspired by the mythical “lost” 40 acres (16 hectares) of Arkansas’ last truly virgin forest, this brewery churns out unique flavors such as Double Love Honey, while also fulfilling its philanthropic mission to preserve the land. Just a block away is East Sixth Brewing Co., which has gained a cult following for its sour and limited-edition beers. For hops and history, visit Stone’s Throw MacPark Brewpub & Biergarten housed in a renovated brick building with an outdoor patio. Choose from 14 beers and ciders, and make room at your table for some beer-friendly dishes from the on-site AYO Foods, as well as visiting food trucks.