Visit Hobbs State Park - Conservation Area
Arkansas' Largest State Park
Arkansas' state motto is "The Natural State," a name at least partially earned by the variety of state parks open to the public. One of these parks is Hobbs State Park, a conservation area that was once a limestone sea bed. But the process of erosion over thousands of years has changed the landscape of the area to create many hills and hollows, and earning this conservation area the label of being a "Natural" park.
This article will give you a brief history of the park, as well as the facilities and recreational opportunities available at this scenic state park.
The Use of the Land
Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Natural Heritage, and the Arkansas Game and Fish commission are the organizations that jointly manage this park and conservation area, all 12,000 acres of it. Originally, the park was named after a local conservationist by the name of Roscoe Hobbs, who actually owned the whole property until the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism took over in 1979.
Before that, the largest steam-driven saw mill in the state of Arkansas was operated here during the 1870s, and the local industrial mill provided lumber that helped with the reconstruction of Northwest Arkansas after the Civil War. Anyone who has ever been to the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville might be interested to know that the lumber from this mill was used in the construction of Old Main, the most famous of that academic institution's buildings.
Of course, the land was there before anyone could claim ownership of it or use its lumber for any construction. For hundreds of years before settlers came to the area, Native Americans hunted buffalo, elk, and even bears in the place that is now the conservation area. However, they were forcibly removed from the land with the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and white settlers moved into the region to benefit from the variety of game and vegetation.
Diversity of Life
A Continuing Theme For Hobbs
The great variety of life present in Hobbs State Park is a big part of the theme that is repeatedly expounded by the organizations which run and operate the park. That theme is diversity, as well as an awareness of that diversity in regards to plants and animal species, and further understanding that it is difficult to really get a sense of how much diversity there is in Hobbs just by driving the roads that run through it.
One obvious place for diversity is the forest of the conservation area, which is about 3/4 hardwood and a quarter pine. The understory of the forest is thick with low bush blueberry, deer-berry, legumes, sugar maple, greenbriar, and many other types of trees. The most common plant that grows beneath the trees is spice bush, found in the wider moist hollows of the forest floor.
There is also still a great deal of diversity in the wildlife that can be seen at Hobbs, including deer, wild turkey, small game, all of which are allowed to be hunted during managed hunting seasons. You may also come across a bear, which obviously cannot be hunted, and there are also bird-watching opportunities.
Facilities and Recreation
Exploring Hobbs State Park
For visitors to the park, the state of Arkansas is dedicated to providing both educational and relaxing activities and experiences that go hand in hand with responsible environmental concerns. To this end, the visitor center for the conservation area provides many interactive exhibits, plus it is certified with a Silver LEED certification.
For those who enjoy hiking, Hobbs has five separate trails. The first is the Ozark Plateau, which goes for half a mile. Second, there is the Sinking Stream Trail, also half a mile. This trail is also nice because it has several picnic tables at the trailhead. The next trail, Shaddox Hollow, is a mile and a half. But for those who want to go the distance, there is also the Pigeon Roost, which runs for 8.4 miles. And finally, there is the Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail, an all-day excursion that goes for 24 miles.
Camping is also available, with five primitive campsites on the Pigeon Roost trail. These are about four miles by foot from the beginning of the trail, and some of the campsites have a scenic view of Beaver Lake. For those who prefer more amenities, the park itself has no cabins, and you would have to stay at a motel outside of the park. But we really recommend that you rough it under the stars.
And finally, for hunters, there is a gun shooting range available, with 25, 50, 75, and 100 yard target stands, as well as a covered shooting bench. However, no shotguns are allowed on the range.
How To Get There
And How To Volunteer
Hobbs State Park and Conservation Area is a beautiful place and a great example of the scenic beauty that can be easily found in Arkansas. But how exactly do you get there? That's easy enough. Just take the State Highway 12 east 10 miles from Rogers, AR, and you will arrive at the Western edge of the park. Those traveling from the East should take Highway 23 south to Highway 12 west from Eureka Springs, AR, a 21 mile trip to the eastern edge of the park.
Also, for those looking to volunteer at the park, there are opportunities to help with trail maintenance, program development, bird inventories, small mammal surveys, and other flora and fauna research tasks. Anyone who would like to try their hand at helping the busy park rangers at this state park should contact the volunteer coordinator at the park office.
There are many state parks throughout the United States that are worth visiting, and Hobbs State Park and Conservation is definitely one of them. Anyone who needs any further convincing should take a look at the following video, which features footage of a hike through the Pigeon Roost Trail.