STORY BY JACK SCHNEDLER PHOTOS BY MARCIA SCHNEDLER
This week’s Green Friday activities at more than a dozen Arkansas state parks will focus on enjoying active fun while learning about nature. Most programs are intended for visitors of all ages, while a few are aimed at youngsters. More information on Green Friday events, free of charge with a few exceptions, can be found at arkansasstateparks.com. ■ Cane Creek State Park, 2 miles east of Star City: This park’s website invites Arkansans to “skip the store lines and join a park interpreter for a guided hike on our beautiful Delta View Trail.” Views on the 2.5-mile walk could include the lingering vestiges of autumn colors. ■ Crowley’s Ridge State Park, 8 miles west of Paragould: The Dancing Rabbit Trail is the venue for the “Color Challenge Hike.” The theme is that “nature consists of varying shades of green and brown. However, vibrant colors like pink and blue are out there if you look closely.” A park interpreter will help hikers test their skills at observing on the moderately difficult mile-plus trail. ■ DeGray Lake Resort State Park, 7 miles northwest of Arkadelphia: The first offering here is the Friday morning “Discovery Hike” along the half-mile Towering Pines Trail. Afternoon brings the “Eagle Watch Cruise,” followed by the “Edible Insects” event, inviting guests to “take a bite, or at least watch.” The “Sunset Cruise” addresses the lake’s ecology. Finally, “Campfire Trivia” features pop-culture questions and roasted marshmallows. There is a charge for both cruises; call (501) 865-5851 to reserve. ■ Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, 10 miles east of Rogers: On a quarter-mile hike along a fully accessible trail, visitors will learn that “forests are complex ecosystems with a diversity of organisms that not only benefit each other but also provide natural resources and other services that benefit us.” m Jacksonport State Park, 5 miles west of Newport: This history-focused park’s “Tunstall Riverwalk Trail Hike” provides “a perfect opportunity to walk off that Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy nature at the same time. We will walk along the trail, examine animal tracks, collect pecans (if they’re not all gone), and maybe even see a bald eagle.” ■ Lake Catherine State Park, 5 miles southeast of Hot Springs: A sedentary Green Friday event at Lake Catherine involves no physical exertion besides chewing. A park interpreter will lead morning guests in campfire conversation, with coffee and pastries. Later programs will deal with bird-watching basics, making bird feeders, spotting salamanders and learning about animal pelts. ■ Lake Frierson State Park, 9 miles north of Jonesboro: “Calling Citizen Scientists!” introduces visitors to scientific research as they record the park’s fauna and flora. Later, “The Art of Staying Curious” teaches nature journaling, “a fun and powerful practice that helps you slow down, pay attention, and get curious about the natural wonders around you.” After dark, “The SSS Experience” combines stargazing and storytelling, plus making and devouring S’mores. ■ Lake Ouachita State Park, 14 miles northwest of Hot Springs: An “Eagle Watch Tour” takes guests boating with the hope of spotting bald eagles. Voyagers will also search for coots, grebes, cormorants and loons. Given cooler weather on the water, warm dress is advised. There is a fee. Call (501) 767-9366 for reservations. ■ Mississippi River State Park, Helena. In the parks’ longest Green Friday event, participants will paddle with a guide in a 16-person canoe on a 6-hour adventure. Stops on the river will allow time for birding, beach strolling or otherwise exploring. A sizable fee is charged. Call (870) 295-4040 for reservations. ■ Mount Magazine State Park, 15 miles southeast of Paris: For Green Friday participants, Mount Magazine offers “more than just bragging rights. It provides a sense of home and habitat.” Hikers will be guided to the tiptop elevation in Arkansas, 2,753 feet above sea level. The climb is described as moderately difficult. Drinking water and insect repellent are recommended. ■ Pinnacle Mountain State Park, just northwest of Little Rock: Official sunrise will be 51 minutes away when hikers set off at 6 a.m. on the West Summit Trail for the top of the mountain. A boon for making this seriously strenuous climb with a park interpreter is the view of the sun rising over the Arkansas River Valley. Along with sturdy shoes and water, a flashlight is recommended. Sleepyheads can show up at 11 a.m. for a short hike on the Kingfisher Trail. ■ Plum Bayou Mounds Archeological State Park, 2 miles south of Scott: Fun and games are the focus at the formerly named Toltec Mounds. A park interpreter will show how to throw a spear using an American Indian implement called an atlatl. Visitors can also play chunkey, which involves rolling a stone and then throwing a spear closest to the stopped stone. ■ Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, 10 miles southwest of Fayetteville: The pivotal Civil War battle of Dec. 7, 1862, is revisited in a morning walk along the ridge line where the heaviest fighting took place. A guided afternoon tour to the park’s historic buildings explores “the similarities and differences between our ways of life and those of our ancestors.” ■ Queen Wilhelmina State Park, 18 miles northwest of Mena: “The Slithering Snakes” event aims to make the case that “there is no such thing as a ‘bad snake.’” Join a park interpreter to find out more about the six venomous snake species in Arkansas and why they are crucial to a healthy ecosystem in Queen Wilhelmina State Park.