(BPT) - Arkansas has become an increasingly popular destination for families, couples and even solo travelers looking for opportunities to embrace outdoor adventure and experience the state’s rich history. The state prides itself on its continuous efforts to provide exceptional recreational and educational attractions no matter what region you visit.
Recently, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Walton Family Foundation announced a historic $20 million matching grant to complete construction of the Delta Heritage Trail, an 84.5-mile biking and pedestrian trail, in the Arkansas Delta, extending from Lexa to Arkansas City.
"This is great news for cyclists and hikers, who have waited more than 20 years for the completion of this rails-to-trails project. The matching grant, combined with Arkansas Parks and Tourism funds, means that the wait is almost over," Gov. Hutchinson said. "The $7 million in tourism that the 85-mile trail will attract, along with the 600 jobs it will create, will infuse renewed energy into southeast Arkansas along the trail. Hikers and bikers will see bottomland hardwood forests and views from the levee that we don't see from our cars. This is a great project for Arkansas."
The 50/50 matching grant will allow Arkansas State Parks to complete the construction of the Delta Heritage Trail over the next five years. The state is applying for federal grants to offset the match, creating a $40 million investment in the Arkansas Delta.
"The Delta Heritage Trail will connect the region's expansive natural beauty and create new ways to experience its unique cultural offerings," said Jim Walton, Walton Family Foundation. "This joint effort is a dream nearly 30 years in the making, a bold idea now being realized in a community that, with continued support, can reach its enormous, untapped potential."
There are currently 44.4 completed miles in The Delta Heritage Trail State Park. This includes a 20.6-mile compacted crushed gravel section between Lexa and Elaine, a 14.4-mile shared-use roadway on the Mississippi River levee between Rohwer and Arkansas City, and another 9.4-mile compacted crushed gravel section between Rohwer and Watson. Portions of this project consist of abandoned railroad lines that have been converted to bike/pedestrian routes. The compacted, crushed rock trail leads visitors through a variety of natural settings. From the shaded canopy of native hardwoods to the vast open skies alongside agricultural fields, guests can enjoy the diverse robust beauty of the Arkansas Delta.
Ultimately, this trail will be 84.5 miles when completed and will be one of the longest dedicated pedestrian and bicycle routes in Arkansas.
The Delta Heritage Trail is just the latest example of Arkansas’ ongoing commitment to create a thriving recreational environment for visitors and residents alike. Whether you’re looking to explore one of its 52 state parks, take in spectacular views from the top of two distinct mountain ranges or make a splash in one of its countless rivers, lakes and streams, Arkansas has something everyone will enjoy.
To learn more about the Delta Heritage Trail project and other outdoor activities to experience in The Natural State, visit Arkansas.com.