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5 Things To Do While Exploring Crowley Ridge State Park!
Head 10 miles west of Paragould, Arkansas, and you’ll arrive at one of the finest state parks in the state, Crowley Ridge State Park. Located on Crowley’s Ridge, stretching from southeastern Missouri into Arkansas and down to the Mississippi River at Helena, this state park is full of scenic views, camping and lodging facilities, and plenty of opportunities for recreational fun in the great Arkansas outdoors.
If you’re on the hunt for a weekend of outdoor fun for all ages, this is where you should go. And whether you want to spend a day on the water or hike one of the many ridge trails, you won’t regret the time spent at Crowley Ridge State Park.
Image by Nadim Merrikh
A great way to see all the park has to offer is by spending some time on Lake Ponder, one of the two recreational lakes in the park. Ranking as one of the state’s most popular swimming areas, Lake Ponder is a great spot to cool off in the spring-fed waters or relax on the sandy beach.
If you would rather float than swim, you can rent a pedal boat or kayak and cruise around the portion of the lake sectioned off for non-motorized watercrafts. There is also a beach volleyball court and a playground nearby. Accompanied lakeside by Native log and stone structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and other facilities such as a bathhouse and snack bar, Lake Ponder is the perfect spot for a day of fun.
Image by Annie Theby
Locals and visitors make trips to the park for the sole purpose of hiking the ridge. And fortunately, Crowley Ridge State Park features five different day-trails for that purpose. The trails provide the perfect opportunity to see the local flora and fauna, various species of wildlife, and the featured geological formations and lakes.
One great hike is on the Dancing Rabbit Trail, which forges through land previously camped on by Native Americans. The Dancing Rabbit Arroyo, named by the original Natives, is a deep gully cut by an intermittent stream, and if you’re up for the 1.2 mile hike on the Dancing Rabbit Trail, you’ll be able to see the arroyo on the two swinging bridges that highlight this woodland hike. To make a shorter hike, but still see the scenic views, trek the Walcott Lake Trail. The distance is 0.5 miles and the trail overlooks Walcott Lake residing below. This trail is perfect for spotting various birds and waterfowl, and it offers a great view of the water running along the top of the fishing levee.
Image by Arkansas State Parks
Walcott Lake is a popular stop for many visitors to Crowley Ridge State Park. Located to the north of Lake Ponder, the 31-acre fishing lake offers plenty of room to fish for the catch of the day. Whether you’re fishing for largemouth bass, catfish, or other stocked fish, Walcott Lake is a prime spot for avid fishermen to spend a day on the water.
If you’re hauling your own boat, try the boat launch ramp on the southside of the lake for easy access to the water. Fishing boats and kayaks are also available for rent at the visitor center. The fishing lake allows electric motors only, so keep this in mind when planning your visit. For hassle free fishing, you can also cast off of the fishing pier located west of the boat ramp.
Image by Mike Erskine
You can plan a day trip through Crowley Ridge State Park, but consider staying a few days, too. Camping or lodging at the park is a popular option among visitors, given the various accommodations available. If you enjoy sleeping under the stars, year-round camping is available located in a secluded area among the trees, an especially beautiful option during the fall season. The campground houses 26 campsites, 18 of which are RV sites, and ADA accessible restroom facility to provide for the best possible camping experience.
If you’re looking to lodge rather than camp, the park has cabins and group lodges for reservation. The cabins are full-service and furnished with modern amenities including full kitchens with linen and tableware, and they can sleep up to six people. If you plan on traveling with a large group, the five rustic bunkhouses overlooking Walcott Lake can accommodate 60 people and are one of Arkansas’ most sought after group-outing facilities.
Image by Bradbury Art Museum
Jonesboro, Arkansas is a family-friendly city 15 miles south of Crowley Ridge State Park with affordable outdoor recreation, well-kept parks, and fantastic museums. It is a perfect day trip if you are staying at Crowley Ridge State Park. Here, you’ll find the City Water and Light Park and Miracle League Park, which are perfect if you’re traveling with family. These parks offer lots of activities and huge playgrounds for kids of all ages and abilities.
Jonesboro also offers the Bradley Art Museum and the Arkansas State University Museum, which are great alternatives for a rainy day or for a more relaxing activity. You can hit the museums and get a quick coffee at one of the many shops, or grab a bite to eat in downtown Jonesboro and take in the shops and town charm.
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