STATE PARKS: Delta Heritage State Park
Welcome to Delta Heritage Trail State Park
Delta Heritage Trail State Park is located about 40 minutes south of Forrest City, just west of Helena in east Arkansas. This “rails to trails” project will stretch 84.5 miles when completed from the northern terminus in Lexa all the way down to Arkansas City. What's rails to trails? It's where retired railroad lines are converted to pedestrian and bicycle routes, creating much needed recreational space for towns and cities all over the United States. In early 1991, as part of the “rails-to-trails” provision of the National Trails System Act, the Union Pacific Railroad notified the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism of the potential track abandonment. The land was acquired on December 23, 1992, and the park was dedicated on October 25, 2002.
Currently, 44.4 miles of the trail is completed in two sections...the northern 20.5-mile section from Lexa to Elaine and the southern 23.9-mile section from Watson to Arkansas City. The middle 40.1 miles will ride through the White River National Wildlife refuge and across both the White River and Arkansas River bridges. In January 2020, the state announced receiving a $20 million matching grant from the Walton Family Foundation to complete the trail and river crossings from Lexa to Arkansas City.
This trail is made of crushed limestone and passes through a diverse array of ecosystems...From a canopy of ancient bottomland hardwoods covering you through one of the last remaining wetland forests in the world, to the fields and farmland stretching out for miles, the trail travels across natural Delta lowlands and will include numerous opportunities for wildlife viewing and birdwatching.
You can hop on the trail at one of eight trailheads in Lexa, Barton, Lick Creek, Lakeview, Elaine, Watson, Rohwer and Arkansas City. At the different trailheads, you'll find interpretive panels detailing the history of each area and the Rails to Trails Program. The Barton trailhead is the location of the Delta Heritage Trail State Park Visitor's Center. There you'll find five primitive campsites with tent pads, picnic tables with grills and 24-hour restroom access, but no bathhouse. Inside the converted cotton gin, there's a park gift shop and bikes available to rent. And down next to the trailhead, there's a bottle filling station and bike repair. Close to the Lake View trailhead, there is a boat ramp and fishing dock access on Old Town lake maintained by Arkansas Game and Fish.
The Arkansas City Trailhead includes a multi-use building with bathhouse facilities and an open pavilion designed in the style of historic rail depots. Visitors can enjoy a picnic in the park or stay overnight on one of two oversized tent pads. Make sure you check out the tile floor remains of the former Palace Confectionery left from Arkansas City's commercial district and head over to Kate Adams Landing used during the steamboat era of the late 1800's and early 1900's.
While you're in the area, swing by Louisiana Purchase State Park or Mississippi River State Park...both are within 30 minutes of the Barton trailhead. If you're traveling from the Little Rock area, stop off at the Hurley House in Hazen or Craigs BBQ in DeVall's Bluff for an amazing meal...it's some of the best food in the Delta!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Delta Heritage Trail State Park and we encourage you to get out and experience The Natural State! For more information on the park, visit ArkansasStateParks.com and make sure you follow Arkie Travels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more Arkansas adventures!