Cane Creek: A Park on the Edge

Article follows the photos:
One of the two barrier-free fishing peirs at Cane Creek
One of the two barrier-free fishing peirs at Cane Creek
Kayaking at Cane Creek State Park.
Kayaking at Cane Creek State Park.
30 class-A campsites are located at Cane Creek State Park.
30 class-A campsites are located at Cane Creek State Park.
Cane Creek State Park
Cane Creek State Park
Cane Creek is located on a 1,675-acre lake
Cane Creek is located on a 1,675-acre lake
October 15, 2002


Cane Creek: A Park on the Edge
*****
By Jodi Morris, guest writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Kayaking has become popular at Arkansas's 40th state park, Cane Creek, which is located on a 1,675-acre lake that's best known for prime fishing. The park also provides 30 class-A campsites and interpretive programs. Cane Creek is located in southeast Arkansas, five miles east of Star City on Ark. 293 to the park. For more information, call (870) 628-4714 or visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com.

Rolling hills, thick hardwood forests, mountain bikes and kayaks are not images that normally come to mind when thinking of southeast Arkansas. These things, though, are characteristics of Cane Creek State Park that often pleasantly surprise first-time visitors. Traveling east five miles from Star City, the twists and turns, ups and downs of Ark. 293 provide the first clue that this is not the state's flat Delta region.

Cane Creek State Park's 2,053 acres ride the heavily timbered ridges of the West Gulf Coastal Plain right to its eastern edge. Entering the park, visitors find wooded hills only minimally tamed by pavement. The mature oak, pine and hickory forest that covers 95 percent of the park presses in against the park roads, picnic area and campsites.

Exploring the park's 2.5-mile Delta View hiking trail, nature enthusiasts traverse a maze of small creeks that etch their way along deep draws between the steeply sloping ridges of a thick forest interspersed with dogwoods. Then, just as hikers begin to revise their preconceived picture of southeast Arkansas, the trail bends around to an open view of a lake filled with tall snags, water lilies, lotus and bald cypress brakes. The soundtrack changes from babbling brooks to the jug-a-rum call of a bullfrog. The Delta is here after all.

Sitting on the dividing line between two different ecological and geological worlds, Cane Creek State Park provides visitors the opportunity to explore both the towering timberlands of the West Gulf Coastal Plain and the flooded forests of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, better known as the Delta.

The creation of the lake and the development of this unique area involved three agencies. With assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service, the Cane Creek project consisted of a two-fold plan to jointly develop a 2,053-acre Arkansas state park and a 1,675-acre Arkansas Game and Fish Commission-managed lake to meet recreational needs of southeast Arkansas residents and visitors.

The project began in 1973 with acquisition of the land made possible by 50-percent matched funds from the National Resources Conservation Service. Construction of the lake began in 1983 with the building of a 4.75-mile levee with a spillway on the northeast (Delta) side of the lake. The levee dams up Cane Creek at its confluence with Bayou Bartholomew, believed to be the world's longest bayou. Cane Creek Lake was flooded and stocked with fish in 1986 and opened for fishing in 1987. Development of the state park began in 1990.

Cane Creek State Park opened to the public May 18, 1992, with 30 Class-A campsites atop one of many flat-topped ridges. Two screened-in pavilions, a paved boat launch with parking area, restrooms, picnic area, and two fishing piers -- all barrier-free -- are also at the park.

"One of Arkansas's newer state parks, Cane Creek is known for its peaceful atmosphere and some of the most awesome wildlife viewing-opportunities in the state," said Park Superintendent Mike Wilson.

While fishing remains a big draw, kayaking, bicycling, hiking and wildlife watching are also gaining popularity. The park began renting kayaks and offering guided kayak tours on Cane Creek Lake and Bayou Bartholomew in 2000.

"These beginner-friendly kayaks are suitable for people of all ages and provide a close-up view of the lilies, lotuses, birds and animals that occupy the lake and shoreline," Wilson said. Fauna at Cane Creek includes the American alligator and the osprey, both of which are threatened species that live in the area year round. Visitors also spot bald eagles at the park, usually during winter months.

In addition to the kayak tours, interpretive programs at the park include birding walks, guided hikes, camping workshops and astronomy programs. The park staff offers these programs on weekends from spring through fall, and groups may request special programs year round.

"Cane Creek State Park has been one of Arkansas's best kept secrets," Wilson said. "But the secret is getting out thanks to Cane Creek being featured on the cover of the 2002 Arkansas State Park guide." Copies of the guide with information on all 51 state parks can be obtained at any state park visitors center, www.ArkansasStateParks.com, or by calling 1-888-AT-PARKS.

(Jodi Morris, a former assistant superintendent Cane Creek State Park, is now employed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.)

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"