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Trails blazedPosted Wednesday, February 1, 2012, at 3:53 PM
Leatherwood Ball Fields' handicapped accessible, hard-surface trail at night under the light. Photo by Steven Foster For photo prints: www.stevenfoster.com/prints.html
In the early days of Eureka Springs, one imagines that the only way you traveled a street was on horseback or a mode of transportation hauled by horses. The streets themselves would have been dirty, dusty, or muddy, with steaming piles of horse leavings.
One can imagine that most people got around town on foot on trails. I imagine that the in-town network of foot trails is a remnant of what must have existed. Before trollies, and if you were too poor to own a horse, you got around on foot.
Present day Spring Street trails lead to the springs themselves suggesting that visitors of the hotels on top of the hills traversed wooded paths to get a drink at the springs.
Trails are part of our heritage. The Downtown Network has produced a nice heritage walking map of town, showing where one can walk and use infrastructure built for a walking public, like the Jacob's Ladder stairways on East Mountain.
Eureka Springs is quietly becoming known as a trail destination. Exploring in-town trails affords a pleasant and cost-free recreation activity for visiting families, couples seeking a quite spot in nature, or a good way to abandon the car and get from point A to point B.
A beautiful trail surrounds Black Bass Lake, suitable for hikers or mountain bikers, with the year-old Oil Springs trail which leads from Oil Spring Road to Black Bass Lake along a fascinating series of bluffs.
Lake Leatherwood City Park has become one of the gems of Northwest Arkansas for in-the-know mountain bikers who enjoy more than 20 miles of trails traversing the 1,600+ acres of the park. A hike on the Beacham Trail around Lake Leatherwood, itself, is a wonderful way to experience nature on a weekend afternoon, especially this time of year.
My winter goal is to hike the entire trail system at Leatherwood, segment by segment, usually an hour at a time, before hot weather is upon us and ticks and chiggers launch from every brush against vegetation. If it's simple walking exercise I seek, I enjoy the paved trail around the Leatherwood Ball Fields. Nice and flat, no mud and a view of nature around that 3,000-foot trail; where one can enjoy nature without getting shoes wet or dirty.
Eureka Springs' trails have transformed from a historic means of getting somewhere to a primary mode of recreation.
Steven Foster is a world renowned botanical photographer. He has published many books, including 2 for National Geographic
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