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Monumental in scope: New trails cover 12 miles at state park

by Flip Putthoff | June 1, 2021 at 7:01 a.m.
Tim Scott, assistant superintendent at Devil's Den State Park, admires in late April 2021 Yellow Rock Falls along Devil's Racetrack Trail, part of the park's new network of Monument Trails. The trail leads behind the waterfall, seen here two days after heavy rain. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Lots of trails lead to waterfalls.

The newest trail at Devil's Den State Park guides hikers and off-road bikers behind the watery veil of Yellow Rock Falls.

The cascade is only one feature of the new network in the Monument Trails system at the state park some 17 miles south of West Fork. These fresh trails meander about 12 miles on both sides of Lee Creek, which flows through the heart of Devil's Den.

They officially opened May 6 after speeches and a ribbon cutting at the Campground A trailhead. A platoon of mountain bikers attended the event eager to get some new dirt on their tires.

New paths welcome hikers and bikers of all abilities. The Fossil Flats Trail, created in 1980 as the park's first multiuse route for mountain biking, is part of the Monument Trails system. It offers six miles of easy hiking and easy to intermediate biking.

Other routes challenge expert riders and might be considered more hike-able than bike-able to the average visitor. A fine sampler of this new trail network is a 2-mile hike or bike that leads to Yellow Rock Falls at the halfway point.

Tim Scott, the park's mountain biking assistant superintendent, hiked toward the spectacular waterfall two days after heavy rain pounded Northwest Arkansas and Devil's Den State Park in late April. The waterfall roared, pouring off the lip of a cliff and plunging 30 feet to its base.

Yellow Rock Falls was known only to a few park visitors before the Monument Trails were chiseled into the park's rocky realm.The waterfall now promises to be a favorite feature not far from the Campground A trailhead.

[Don't see the video above, click here: nwaonline.com/61trail/]

To see the waterfall, start at Campground A trailhead and take an immediate left uphill on the Gold Brick trail. It's a gradual climb of about one-quarter mile to a junction with Devil's Racetrack trail. Go right at this intersection and follow the trail along the base of a bluff to the waterfall. Best to visit the cascade after a rainy spell.

Continue on past the waterfall and more wonders unfold. The trail meanders through gardens of boulders and along tall slabs of rock. It passes beneath the Yellow Rock Trail overlook that attracts droves of hikers. Yellow Rock Trail is for hiking only.

Near the finish of this Monument Trails 2-mile sampler, the route intersects with the Fossil Flats Trail. Go right and walk a short distance back to the trailhead.

"These new trails are going to take some of the pressure off of our other trails," Scott said during his hike. Yellow Rock Trail, in particular, is visited by hundreds of hikers on spring and fall weekends if the weather is nice, he added.

And just what is a Monument Trail?

First, it must be at least 10 miles long, explained Monte Fuller, Devil's Den park superintendent. They're built with high-quality workmanship to be sustainable with minimal maintenance. Monument Trails lead to the most scenic and iconic areas of a state park, Fuller added. They're multiuse routes open for hiking, mountain biking and trail running for people of all skill levels.

Arkansas state parks with Monument Trails include Devil's Den, Hobbs, Mount Nebo and Pinnacle Mountain. They're built in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation and the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation.

Dozens of mountain bikers got a sneak preview of the Devil's Den Monument Trails in early April at the annual Ozark Mountain Bike Festival. Park staff let people hike or bike the Monument Trail during the festival.

Tim Stolt of Bella Vista and Charles Williams of Bentonville sat on their mountain bikes and took in the May 6 dedication ceremony. They'd biked some of the new trails and had high praise.

"They scenery is phenomenal. You're going beneath 75-foot bluffs and past boulders," Williams said. "The rock work is world class."

Rock Solid trail company and Rogue Trails built the Monument Trails.

"You get to a point where you want to take your eyes off the trail and take it all in, but then you're gonna crash," Stolt added. "You're always excited to see what's around the next bend."

Paper maps of the Monument Trails are available free at the Devil's Den State Park visitor center. A map will be available online soon, Fuller said.

Tim Scott, assistant superintendent at Devil's Den State Park, admires in late April 2021 Yellow Rock Falls along Devil's Racetrack Trail, part of the park's new network of Monument Trails. The trail leads behind the waterfall, seen here two days after heavy rain.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Tim Scott, assistant superintendent at Devil's Den State Park, admires in late April 2021 Yellow Rock Falls along Devil's Racetrack Trail, part of the park's new network of Monument Trails. The trail leads behind the waterfall, seen here two days after heavy rain. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Hikers and off-road bikers follow      April 2021      a trail behind Yellow Rock Falls.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Hikers and off-road bikers follow April 2021 a trail behind Yellow Rock Falls. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Scott pauses at a keyhole feature on part of the new Monument Trails.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Scott pauses at a keyhole feature on part of the new Monument Trails. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Bikers pedal May 6 2021 along the new Monument Trails system at Devil's Den State Park south of West Fork after dedication ceremonies at the trailhead.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Bikers pedal May 6 2021 along the new Monument Trails system at Devil's Den State Park south of West Fork after dedication ceremonies at the trailhead. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Walls of rock greet explorers along the Monument Trails.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Walls of rock greet explorers along the Monument Trails. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
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Short, sweet hikes

Devil’s Den State Park has several trails open for easy, short hikes.

• CCC Interpretive Trail, 0.25 mile loop.

• Lake Trail, 0.5 miles one way or 1-mile out and back.

• Woody Plant Trail, 0.25 miles one way or 0.5 miles out and back.

• Devil’s Den Trail, 1.5 mile loop.

• Lee Creek Trail, 1.25 mile loop.

Source: Devil’s Den State Park

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