Nature Center offers entertaining glimpse of the outdoors


Outdoor author and photographer Corbet Deary is featured commonly in The Sentinel-Record. Today, Deary writes about the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center.

After spending a number of weeks kicking round in the neighborhood of Crowley’s Ridge, I believed we’d meander in a westward course immediately. In truth, the vacation spot I plan to cowl is located inside quarter-hour of the Oklahoma line.

We truly spent a number of weeks kicking round in the northwestern extremities of the state a number of months in the past. However, I did not characteristic the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center. That in thoughts, I believed this may show a good time to backtrack and share what this explicit facility has to supply.

The nature heart is nestled in 170 acres of property that was beforehand half of Fort Chaffee. The setting is gorgeous throughout all seasons. And I might suspect that it will show much more spectacular throughout the days to return, as the leaves will start to show quickly, and the peak of fall foliage is however weeks away.

However, one should ponder if the lack of rainfall we now have skilled all through the summer time months may have an antagonistic impact on this 12 months’s colours.

But regardless of the consequence of the fall season, the nature heart is actually a location worthy of a go to. It’s the excellent location the place one can get pleasure from pure magnificence whereas getting higher acquainted with the place the River Valley and Ozarks meet.

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Although I’ve visited this location a number of occasions all through the years, I’m at all times impressed upon coming into the massive interpretive heart. I used to be immediately mesmerized upon noticing three massive enclosures.

Although many have a wholesome worry of snakes, it is necessary that we now have considerably of an understanding of their habits and their most popular setting. And what higher environment to hone one’s identification expertise than in a managed setting?

That being mentioned, these three enclosures safely lent to a possibility to see an enormous timber rattler, a copperhead and a cottonmouth from a detailed, but protected, perspective.

I additionally spent my fair proportion of time gazing at the native fish species, as they slowly went about their enterprise in the 1,200-gallon aquarium. The “life-sized oak tree exhibit” was intriguing as properly, as a number of recreation and non-game animal shows could possibly be discovered inside the man-made setting.

Several interactive shows had been additionally located all through the constructing, in addition to a classroom, that’s used for varied academic packages, together with hunters and boating security programs.

But sufficient of being inside. I used to be greater than desirous to step out, onto the again deck and expertise the great outdoors first hand. The view was great, as Wells Lake was nestled simply downhill from the interpretive heart.

The 12-acre reservoir was inbuilt the Nineteen Forties as a method of accumulating water throughout the building of Fort Chaffee. However, the reservoir have to be a good fishery, as properly. Several anglers had been strewn alongside the shoreline throughout my latest go to.

I watched as one distant fisherman managed to coax a panfish from its waters. And one other shared tales of catching catfish on a reasonably common foundation. In truth, the fishing fanatic defined that largemouth bass, redears and bluegills additionally swam inside its perimeters. He additionally steered that rainbow trout are launched in the reservoir once in a while, as properly.

A small flock of Canada geese browsed in the manicured property, between the interpretive heart and the lake for a short while previous to waddling to the shoreline and taking a plunge. I, too, felt compelled to get nearer to the water. So I trotted down the flight of stairs, to the sidewalk main alongside the lake.

Speaking of designated paths, a number of trails additionally meander by way of the property. In truth, the sidewalk the place I used to be standing was truly a piece of the Wells Lake Trail.

This explicit path makes a half-mile loop, following the contour to the lake’s edge. The ADA path is paved and lends to a possibility to see an occasional native mammal going about its on a regular basis rituals, in addition to wading birds shopping the shallows for his or her subsequent potential meal.

The Beaver Creek Trail consists of a boardwalk making a quarter-mile jaunt alongside the skirts of a braided stream. Those embarking upon this brief tour may have the alternative to see indications that beavers have been frequenting the space. Several native plant species which might be dependent upon wetlands is likely to be seen rising nearby of the boardwalk.

The Field and Forest Trail solely extends a half-mile and makes its method by way of a very completely different setting. The designated path meanders by way of the remnants of previous farm fields and in the midst of a younger oak-hickory forest setting.

This path offers a possibility to see a spread of birds that rely on such an setting as a meals supply and for shelter. Those with a ardour for native pants may additionally discover it of curiosity that rain lilies may be discovered blooming nearby of the overwhelmed path following precipitation throughout September and October.

The Oak Savannah Trail additionally stretches a half-mile throughout its brief journey. Those traipsing alongside the path would possibly discover it attention-grabbing that oak savannahs had been as soon as frequent all through the Ozarks.

According to data posted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Nature Center, “prescribed, fires have slowly returned some of the forests to a extra open panorama with a number of massive oaks in a grass and shrub understory.” It can be steered that hikers experiencing a jaunt alongside the path “look fastidiously for an indigo bunting nest in the shrubs.”

The Upland Trail additionally stretches a half-mile. However, it makes its method by way of one more setting. The designated path is a spur of the Oak Savannah Trail and leads hikers by way of a shortleaf pine forest.

Those embarking upon this explicit stroll are apt to seek out themselves in the midst of little bluestem and would possibly see indications that coyotes and deer frequent the space.

The North Boundary Trail is the longest of all, stretching 1.1 miles throughout its journey. The path makes its method throughout a wet-weather creek and finally results in a drier upland area that’s located alongside the nature heart’s boundary.

Deer are generally seen and heard alongside this path, as are a number of fowl species. And I suppose one is apt to see different native critters going about their enterprise every now and then. The path finally ties right into a street that leads again to the facility.

Yep, the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center is a location the place one can discover lots to maintain them entertained and occupied. And it’s a vacation spot I anticipate revisiting once more in the future.

To get to the Nature Center from Hot Springs, take Highway 270 west for about 73 miles and switch proper onto Highway 71 at Y City. Remain on 71 for 41 miles and merge proper onto Arkansas 549 north.

Travel 2.9 miles and take Exit 190. Go four-tenths of a mile and switch left onto Massard Road. Travel seven-tenths of a mile and take a proper onto Wells Lake Road. Go three-tenths of a mile and switch left into the car parking zone.

The 1,200-gallon aquarium at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center offers a possibility to see native fish from an up-close perspective. – Photo by Corbet Deary of The Sentinel-Record