Little Rock homeschoolers should get out and walk on April 4 to celebrate National Walking Day. Plenty of area trails are suitable for home school groups. Combine walking with a learning experience at these top four walking adventures. The Big Dam Bridge and Pinnacle Mountain are free to use. Both the Plantation Agricultural Museum and the Toltec Mounds charge a nominal access fee. Call ahead to reserve pavilions or to receive special home school group discounts.
Big Dam Bridge
The Big Dam Bridge offers homeschoolers in the Little Rock area a chance to get out and walk the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. Bring the strollers and wagons for little ones who may get tired. Home school groups can get together to walk the bridge and then they can picnic at one of the 70 connecting parks. While walking the bridge, turn it into a home school lesson. Take pictures to create a lapbook. Talk about measurements. Ask questions like how many feet are in a mile? How long is this bridge?
Two trails at Pinnacle Mountain are well suited for home school groups. Park at the West Summit parking lot to start your day. Plan to make a day of it. Charcoal grills and picnic tables are just off of the parking lot. A large, well equipped playground will help keep kids entertained when they are not out on the trail. Other amenities include a public telephone and restrooms. The park is located in North Little Rock.
The West Summit trail is a three-quarter mile trail that heads straight up the mountain. Keep a close eye on little ones because there is a fall risk. The trail takes you to the edge of the ridge at times and there are no barriers to prevent falls. A round trip is a mile and a half because you must go back down the mountain. Don’t let the short walk fool you. This is an extremely strenuous trail. The three-quarter mile walk covers 800 feet in elevation change. You start out on a earth trail which gives way to a boulder area as you get closer to the top. At the summit, it feels like you are on top of the world. Remember to bring a camera and plenty of water.
An easier trail to walk is the Kingfisher Trail. The trailhead is just off of the playground. This quiet, wooded trail is full of huge mangrove trees. Kids can explore the trees and the water. The trail is paved and stroller friendly. Fussy babies will enjoy the trail from the stroller–away from the noisy playground. The trail is one-half mile in length. This makes it an ideal walk for small children who can tire easily and for those who are less fit. The terrain is flat, no extreme elevation changes.
For homeschoolers who are very fit and want a challenge, try this route. Park at the West Summit parking lot. Hike up the West Summit trail, make your return trip via the East Summit Trail (which is the most strenuous trail in the park) and return to the West Summit parking lot via the Base Trail for a total of two and a half miles. The East Summit trail requires you to scramble through a boulder field. Heading down is very difficult. It is not a trail suitable for toddlers or small children.
Plantation Agricultural Museum
No walking trails exist at the Plantation Agricultural Museum. However, the main museum and the out-buildings will give home school groups a good afternoon of walking. Visit life in rural Arkansas and see up close what life was like on a farm. Spend time looking at the garden, the old tractors, and the out-buildings. Group rates are available to home school groups who call ahead. Plan to visit the Toltec Mounds on the same day–a discount is available on admission–ask at the desk.
The Toltec Mounds offers homeschoolers an afternoon of walking and exploring. Take sunscreen and plenty of water because there is little shade. Learn about the largest Native American burial mounds in Arkansas. Three mounds remain where 18 once stood. Take a self-guided tour or schedule a tour for your home school group. Download the Children’s Guide to the Toltec Mounds before your visit. Explore the mounds through the three-quarter mile Knapp Trail or by the 1.6 mile Plum Bayou Trail. An enclosed picnic shelter is available for rental.
While these walking adventures are an excellent choice for any day of the week, why not visit one of them on National Walking Day. Teach your homeschoolers about the importance of staying fit and healthy. Not only will they learn something new about Arkansas, they will learn how fun it is to stay fit.