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Exploring Arkansas July 2011

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Little Missouri Falls, Lorance Creek Natural Area, Roth Prairie Natural Area, Cedar Falls Hike
Little Missouri Falls is located in one of the most scenic areas of the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas-in fact, it's a special area that almost became a national park. The Lorance Creek Natural Area between Little Rock and Pine Bluff is a dense swamp with a boardwalk which makes it quite ideal to explore without any difficulty. The Roth Prairie Natural Area in the heart of the Grand Prairie is a great example of what was once the vast tallgrass prairie. Hiking to one of the premier waterfalls in the state, Cedar Falls at Petit Jean Mountain State Park is a must do activity for anyone living in The Natural State.

TRANSCRIPT

THE LITTLE MISSOURI FALLS AREA AND THE WASH THAT NATIONAL FOREST IN WEST ARKANSAS, ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE SPOTS I LIKE TO KEEP COMING BACK YEAR AFTER YEAR. IN FACT, BACK IN THE '20s AND EARLY '30s, THIS AREA ALMOST BECAME A NATIONAL PARK. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE CALLED WASH THAT NATIONAL PARK. BUT THEN PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLAGE DECIDED TO VETO THE IDEA.

> ANYWAY, WE FIGURE THIS IS THE PERFECT SPOT TO BEGIN THIS WEEK'S SHOW. ♪♪ ♪♪ QUITE SIMPLY PUT, THE LITTLE MISSOURI FALLS AREA AND THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST IS NATURE'S WILD COUNTRY. CATCH IT WHEN THE WATER IS RUNNING GOOD, AND YOU HAVE A CASCADING PARADISE... NATURE'S PLAYGROUND. ♪♪ IN 1985, THE ARKANSAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY RECOGNIZED THE SCENE I CAN BEAUTY OF THE LITTLE MISSOURI RIVER BY PASSING LEGISLATEV ASIAN TO INCLUDE IT IN ARKANSAS'S NATURAL AND RIVER SCENIC SYSTEM PRE-CIRQUESV IT FOR YOU AND ME AND EVERYONE ELSE TO ENJOY. ♪♪ ♪♪

WE WERE JUST LOOKING AROUND FOR PLACES TO GO, AND I THINK WE WERE JUST LOOKING AT ONE OF THOSE TOUR GUIDEBOOKS OR ONE OF THE -- THOSE LITTLE GUIDEBOOKS YOU GET FROM THE REST STOP AND THINGS LIKE THAT. SO, WE JUST PRETTY MUCH HAD DONE EVERYTHING IN OUR AREA, SO, THAT WAS ON -- YOU KNOW, THE CIRCUMFERENCE. SO, WE JUST DROVE UP HERE AND WE WERE SHOCKED. IT WAS JUST BEAUTIFUL. THE KIDS WENT CRAZY BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER. IT WASN'T AS COLD AND IT WASN'T AS FAST RUNNING, AND WE JUST HUNG OUT HERE FOR HOURS. IT WAS LIKE A WONDER LAND. THE KIDS GOT IN THE LITTLE POOL AND WE JUST SAT AROUND AND IT WAS FULL OF PEOPLE. SO -- AND WE JUST KEEP COMING BACK BECAUSE THERE'S A LONG TRAIL HERE, TOO, AND YOU CAN GO ON AND ON AND ON. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE HERE WITH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE YOU CAN GO WAY DOWN THERE AND THERE ARE SMALLER LITTLE RAPIDS DOWN THERE. YOU JUST PACK YOURSELF A LITTLE BAG AND SOME WATER AND YOU CAN KEEP WALKING PROBABLY FOR ABOUT 30, 40 MINUTES. BUT WE HAVEN'T FIGURED A WAY TO COME BACK AROUND -- YOU HAVE TO WALK BACK THE SAME WAY AS FAR AS I KNOW. WARNING. ♪♪ ♪♪

YES, IF YOU DO ENJOY A LITTLE ELBOW ROOM WITH YOUR WATER PLAY, THEN THE LITTLE MISSOURI FALLS AREA SHOULD BE ON YOUR DESTINATION LIST. ♪♪ ♪♪

IN THE SUMMER, THOUGH, PEOPLE THAT LIVE AROUND HERE KNOW ABOUT IT. THEY DO. AND IT'S ALL ARKANSANS PRETTY MUCH THAT LIVE IN THE AREA AND THEY HANG OUT UP HERE AND HAVE A GOOD TIME. LOTS OF KIDS, LOTS OF KIDS, WHICH IS WHAT WE ARE ALSO INTO WITH THE FOUR OF THEM. SO, IT'S BEAUTIFUL, THOUGH. VERY PEACEFUL. PEOPLE JUMP OFF HERE WHEN IT DOESN'T GO SO FAST. AND THERE ARE ACTUALLY -- I'M NOT SURE IF IT'S BACK THIS WAY, BUT IT'S IN THE PARK. THERE ARE STILL POOLS THAT ARE VERY DEEP AND PEOPLE WILL TROUT FISH THEM WHEN IT'S COLDER, BUT THEY'RE GOOD SWIMMING HOLES. THEY'RE DEEP, DEEP BLUE SWIMMING HOLES RIGHT CLOSE TO HERE. SO, WE TRIED THOSE OUT, TOO.

HEY, YOU NEED TO WORK FOR PARKS AND TOURISM.

I DO NEED TO. I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT. YOU GET SO HAPPY WHEN YOU COME OUT HERE. I'VE NEVER BEEN DISAPPOINTED. PUT IT LIKE THAT. YOU NEVER COME OUT AND HAVE A BAD DAY. NEVER COME OUT AND HAVE BAD WEATHER OR BAD PEOPLE, LIKE RUDE PEOPLE OR CRAZY PEOPLE OR NOTHING. AND IT'S ALWAYS CLEAN, BASICALLY PRETTY PICKED UP AND CLEAN. PEOPLE CARE ABOUT IT. BUT I LOVE IT. WE JUST LOVE IT. WE USUALLY COME IN THE SUMMER. I THINK THIS IS THE EARLIEST IT'S BEEN IN THE YEAR, BUT IT'S BEAUTIFUL LIKE THIS, TOO. SO, WE'RE COMING  -- WORTH COMING ANY TIME OF YEAR, I THINK. ♪♪ ♪♪

A LITTLE OVER TWO MILES UP FROM LITTLE MISSOURI FALLS FOLLOWING CROOKED CREEK, ALONG FOREST SERVICE ROAD 43, YOU'LL COME UPON THIS SITE, CROOKED CREEK FALLS. WHEN LEAVING LITTLE MISSOURI FALLS, JUST FOLLOW FOREST ROAD 25 FOR .7 MILES TO FOREST ROAD 43. THEN GO 1.4 MILES AND CROOKED CREEK FALLS WILL BE DOWN OFF TO YOUR RIGHT, AND THERE IS A SMALL PARKING AREA. CROOKED CREEK IS NOT THAT TALL OF A WATER FALL. ONLY 16 FEET OR SO. BUT IT DOES LOOK TALLER THAN THAT. AND WHEN THE WATER IS RUNNING PERFECT, IT'S EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ SO, THERE YOU GO. TWO MAGNIFICENT FALLS WITHIN A COUPLE OR SO MILES OF EACH OTHER, LOCATED IN ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC AREAS OF THE NATURAL STATE. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ THE LORANCE CREEK NATURAL AREA ABOUT 10 MILES OR SO SOUTH OF LITTLE RACK IS ONE OF THOSE PROTECTED AREAS UNDER THE ARKANSAS NATIONAL HERITAGE COMMISSION. AND LIKE MANY OF THE OTHER AREAS IT HAS A RICH DIVERSITY IN PLANT AND ANIMAL SPECIES SUCH AS THE BIRD-VOICED TREE FROG. AND ON A SOMEWHAT RAINY DAY LIKE TODAY, WE MAY BE ABLE TO PICK UP THEIR CALL IF WE'RE LUCKY. ♪♪ ♪♪ AND LUCKY WE DID GET, AFTER WALKING ON THE TRAIL JUST A FEW HUNDRED FEET, WE BEGAN HEARING THAT FAMILIAR SOUND OF THE BIRD-VOICED TREE FROG. THE PATH THAT LEADS INTO THE LORANCE CREEK NATURAL AREA BEGINS WITH THE PAVED FOOT TRAIL AND THEN EVENTUALLY TURNS INTO A BOARDWALK THAT WILL LEAD YOU THROUGH THE SWAMP THAT IS ON BOTH SIDES OF LORANCE CREEK. ENTIRE DISTANCE IS ONLY A QUARTER OF A MILE. HALF A MILE ROUND TRIP. ♪♪ ♪♪ INTERPRETIVE PANELS ALONG THE WAY ENLIGHTEN VISITORS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION ASPECTS OF THIS NATURAL AREA. THE LORANCE CREEK NATURAL AREA WAS DESIGNATED AS SUCH DUE TO THE FACT THAT THIS AREA OCCURS AT THE TRANSITION WITH THE COASTAL PLAIN TO THE MISSISSIPPI ALLUVIAL PLAIN. ALSO THIS NEARLY 300 ACRES IS A DIVERSE MOSAIC OF OPEN WATER, CYPRESS TUPELO GUM, BLACK GUM AND BEAVER PALM ALL OF WHICH ARE INTERCONNECTED BY A COMPLEX NETWORK OF SMALL STREAMS AND SEEPS SUPPORTING A RICH AQUATIC FLORA. ALL IN ALL, A VISIT TO THE LORANCE CREEK NATURAL AREA IS JUST A REALLY NEAT EXPERIENCE OF VISITING A DEEP SWAMP WITHOUT THE DRUDGERY OF HAVING TO GO THROUGH THE GUNK. EXPLORE IT FOR YOURSELF. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ FROM A SWAMP NATURAL AREA TO A TALL GRASS, PRAIRIE NATURAL AREA, THIS IS WHAT MUCH OF EASTERN ARKANSAS LOOKED LIKE BEFORE BEING PLOWED UP FOR AGRICULTURE. AS A VAST, TALL GRASS PRAIRIE LAND. WE'RE AT THE ROTH PRAIRIE NATURAL AREA JUST SOUTH OF STUTTGART. THE ROTH PRAIRIE NATURAL AREA REPRESENTS ONE OF THE LAST FEW FRAGMENTS OF TALL GRASS PRAIRIE LEFT IN THE GRAND PRAIRIE OF EASTERN ARKANSAS. IT'S ESTIMATED THAT BEFORE BEING SETTLED, THE GRAND PRAIRIE WAS COVERED WITH ABOUT 320,000 ACRES OF PRAIRIE LAND. TODAY, LESS THAN 1% OF THAT ORIGINAL PRAIRIE REMAINS. THE 41-ACRE ROTH PRAIRIE NATURAL AREA WAS FORMERLY MANAGED FOR HAY PRODUCTION. IT WAS ADDED AS A NATURAL AREA 1976 BY THE ARKANSAS NATURAL HERITAGE COMMISSION. ♪♪ ♪♪ WHAT IS SO INTERESTING AND UNIQUE ABOUT ROTH PRAIRIE ARE THE SO-CALLED PRAIRIE MOUNDS, SOME UP TO THREE FEET TALL. THEY'RE NOT ACTUAL MOUNDS OF SOIL, BUT THE PARTICULAR TALL GRASSES THAT HAVE GROWN INTO THE SHAPE OF MOUNDS. AND THESE ARE GENERALLY CONSIDERED TO BE AN INDICATION THAT THE PRAIRIE HAS NEVER BEEN PLOWED OR LEVELED. OF COURSE, AN AREA SUCH AS THIS IS CHOCKFUL OF WILD FLOWERS AND WILDLIFE. YOU'LL FIND PLENTY OF RED-WINGED BLACK BIRDS ALL OVER THIS PRAIRIE. ALONG WITH LOTS OF SONG BIRDS. SO, MAKE THE DRIVE TO THE ROTH PRAIRIE NATURAL AREA JUST SOUTH OF STUTTGART AND TREAT YOURSELF TO WHAT THE GRAND PRAIRIE LOOKED LIKE AND SOUNDED LIKE BACK IN THE DAY. ♪♪ ♪♪ CEDAR FALLS AT THE STATE PARK, ARKANSAS'S FLAGSHIP STATE PARK, AND USUALLY IT'S CONTINUOUSLY FLOWING THE ENTIRE YEAR. AND DEPENDING UPON THE RAINFALL, IT CAN BE QUITE AWESOME. SO, WE'RE GOING TO TAKE YOU ALONG WITH US TODAY AND LISTEN TO THE STORY OF OTHER HIKERS WHO FREQUENT THIS STATE PARK. ♪♪ ♪♪ SINCE THE DIFFICULTY OF THIS TRAIL IS RIGHT AT MODERATE TO STRENUOUS, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ONLY THOSE IN GOOD SHAPE SHOULD ATTEMPT THIS HIKE. IT'S ALSO RECOMMENDED TO WEAR SHOES OR BOOTS THAT PROVIDE DECENT ANKLE SUPPORT AND A FIRM GRIP. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS HIKE WITH FLIP-FLOPS. YOU'LL NOT ONLY BLOW THEM OUT, BUT YOUR FEET AS WELL. THE FIRST HALF MILE OF THE HIKE DESCENDS MORE THAN 200 FEET DOWN INTO CEDAR CREEK CANYON BY WAY OF STEPS CUT FROM ROCKS BY THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORE MORE THAN 60 YEARS AGO. ♪♪ ♪♪

WELL, AS WE WERE COMING DOWN, WE WERE LOOKING AT THE -- FIRST OF ALL, THE WEATHER. THE TEMPERATURE IS JUST RIGHT. IT'S NOT TOO COOL. AND I WAS TELLING MY WIFE ABOUT HOW GREEN EVERYTHING IS. WITH ALL THE RAIN AND IT'S SPRINGTIME, SO, THAT WAS ALL BEAUTIFUL. AND THEN WE'VE GOT ALL THIS WATER FROM THE RAIN. SO, WE'RE GETTING ALL THE WAY DOWN WE'RE GETTING THESE LITTLE WATER FALLS AND THE SOUNDS OF THE WATER AND THE BIRDS. AND THE WATER FALL IS INCREDIBLE. SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING IT'S THE LARGEST THEY'VE SEEN IT AS FAR AS THE FLOW. SO, THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE IS GREAT, LIKE PERFECT TO ME.

AFTER THE TRAIL GETS DOWN TO CEDAR CREEK LEVEL, YOU'LL THEN CROSS THE CREEK BY WAY OF A FOOT BRIDGE. THE TRAIL WILL THEN FOLLOW ALONG SCENIC CEDAR CREEK FOR THE REST OF THE HIKE. HALF THE FUN OF ENJOYING THE TRAIL IS SEEING THE SURROUNDING ALL THE WAY. HUGE BOULDERS ALONG THE WAY AND ROCK FORMATIONS. WITH THE CEDAR FALLS TRAIL BEING LOCATED IN ONE OF ARKANSAS'S MOST POPULAR STATE PARKS, IT'S NO WONDER THAT APPROXIMATELY 300,000 PEOPLE TAKE THIS HIKE EVERY YEAR, WITH A GOOD MAJORITY OF THEM BEING FROM OUT OF STATE. ♪♪ ♪♪

I MOVED DOWN HERE THREE WEEKS AGO FROM MINNESOTA. AND RIGHT AWAY I SPENT THOSE THREE WEEKS GOING TO AS MANY STATE PARKS AS I COULD. I VISITED MOUNT NEBO, MOUNT MAGAZINE. I'VE BEEN HERE A FEW WEEKS AGO AND I ONLY DID THE WATER FALL HIKE. AND NOW THAT MY DAD IS DOWN FOR A VISIT, WE'VE EXPLORED MORE OF THE TRAILS AND THIS IS JUST GORGEOUS. I'VE BEEN UP TO GREER'S FERRY. I'M DEFINITELY GOING TO GO THERE AGAIN. THAT'S VERY, VERY PRETTY. YEAH, IT'S A LOT DIFFERENT THAN MINNESOTA. THE WEATHER IS A LOT NICER. I LEFT WITH SNOW ON THE GROUND AND THERE'S NONE OF THAT HERE.

YEAH, AND I CERTAINLY LIKE THE WAY THEY HAVE LEFT IT REALLY NATURAL AND ALLOWED THE PUBLIC TO COME IN HERE FREE OF CHARGE AND ACTUALLY HIKE AROUND AND EXPLORE AREAS, AND LETS YOU REALLY GET OUT AND LOOK AT THINGS REAL CLOSE UP.

WE'VE BEEN OUT AT BEAR CAVE AND ROCK CAVE AND SEVEN HOLLOW TRAIL. TODAY, THE LAST DAY BEFORE WE HEAD BACK TO MILWAUKEE TOMORROW, WE FIGURED WE'D DO THE LONG HIKE DOWN THE HILL AND BACK UP AGAIN TO THE WATER FALL.

AND WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT WATER FALL TODAY?

BEAUTIFUL WATER FALL TODAY. WE WERE OUT HERE THREE YEARS AGO AND THE WATER WASN'T QUITE AS FULL AS IT IS NOW. IT'S JUST GORGEOUS, ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS TODAY.

HAVING SOME FUN EXPLORING THE NATURAL.

ABSOLUTELY. OF ALL THE STATES I'VE BEEN IN, THIS IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE PRETTIER PARKS I'VE BEEN IN. GORGEOUS OUT HERE.

AND GORGEOUS OUT HERE IT IS. YOU CAN TAKE THIS HIKE TIME AND TIME AGAIN AND EACH OUTING WILL BE A DIFFERENT ADVENTURE. MANY OF THE GEOLOGICAL FORMATIONS AND SCENIC BEAUTY ARE PRESERVED ALMOST AS FRENCH EXPLORERS FOUND THEM MORE THAN 300 YEARS AGO. AFTER ABOUT ONE HOUR'S WORTH OF HIKING YOU'LL REACH YOUR WELL DESERVED REWARD. ONE OF THE NATURAL STATE'S MOST SPECTACULAR SIGHTS, CEDAR FALLS.

THEY'RE AWESOME. THEY JUST COME DOWN. IT'S LIKE, WOW, YEAH. ♪♪ ♪♪

AFTER SPENDING SOME TIME HERE AND TAKING IT ALL IN, YOU CAN EASILY UNDERSTAND WHY THIS AREA WAS ADDED TO THE REGISTER OF ARKANSAS NATURAL AREAS IN 1977. ♪♪ ♪♪

MY WIFE AND I HAVE BEEN COMING TO THE STATE PARK HERE FOR YEARS. SO, THIS IS LIKE THE THIRD TIME WE'VE BEEN HERE THIS YEAR. WE CAME BECAUSE OF ALL THE RAIN, THE WATER FALLS JUST POURING. THE CREEKS ARE BEAUTIFUL HERE. THE ONE THAT FEEDS THE WATER FALL BACK HERE IS BEAUTIFUL RIGHT NOW, JUST ROARING DOWN THE HOLLOW. IT'S JUST ONE OF -- PROBABLY ONE OF THE PRETTIEST SPOTS IN THE STATE, PROBABLY ONE OF THE EASIEST TO GET TO. ♪♪ ♪♪

ONE WORD OF ADVICE... PACE YOURSELF ON THE RETURN HIKE BECAUSE THE LAST QUARTER OF A MILE OR SO BACK UP THE CANYON IS DEFINITELY A DOOZIE. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

SO, EXPERIENCE AND EXPLORE FOR YOURSELF ARKANSAS'S PREMIERE WATER FALLS, CEDAR FALLS HERE. FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OF OUR OTHERS OR ORDER A COPY OF OUR EPISODE, GO TO OUR WEBSITE, AETN.ORG/EXPLORING ARKANSAS. WE'LL SEE YOU ANOTHER TIME FOR AN EXCITING ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

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