This week, UpstreamMatters welcomes a guest blogger, Misty Murphy.  Misty is the Regional Trails Coordinator for the Northwest Arkansas Council.  Misty is an avid cyclist herself and works with local governments, trail advocates, and other stakeholders to develop the trail system’s most beneficial attributes for runners, walkers, hikers and cyclists.   You can contact her at misty@nwacouncil.org.


A quick glance at trail names along the Razorback Regional Greenway illustrates the close connection between our waterways in Northwest Arkansas and the trail system. Clear Creek, Scull Creek, Mud Creek, Town Branch – these trails all flow along the shady path of their namesakes.

Razorback Regional Greenway Map

Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway Map

For centuries, waterways were major transportation corridors in Northwest Arkansas. In addition to the navigable rivers, creeks and streams served as cool pathways and landmarks for transportation.

The 3-mile Clear Creek Trail that extends from Lake Fayetteville to Johnson is one of several streams that are gaining renewed focus with the construction of the Greenway. Clear Creek was once the lifeblood of a thriving community, fueling three mills and feeding a strawberry industry. Churches, schools, and trading routes developed along the creek.

 

Clear Creek Bridge

Clear Creek

Over the years, Clear Creek’s perceived value was diminished as we began piping water into our homes and moving at faster and faster speeds. Eventually, the creek was just a name on a sign at a bridge we crossed at 45 miles per hour.

With the opening of the Clear Creek Trail in April, residents are once again able to connect with this historically and ecologically important waterway. And those residents are responding with enthusiasm! The shady banks of the creek are full of bike riders, runners, and families just about any time of day. In late April, I spotted six teenage boys walking down the trail, fishing poles and tackle in hand for a day on the creek. Another day, I saw a gentleman walking along the creek, picking up plastic bags and other debris that had washed down onto the banks.

 

Clear Creek Trail Rider Biking across the Clear Creek Bridge

I envision a similar situation will transpire in Springdale once Spring Creek is again visible downtown, and residents can follow its waters past historic Bluff Cemetery and toward Lake Springdale.

 

Lake Springdale BridgeLake Springdale Bridge, Opening September 2014

This relationship building between the trail user and the waterway is one of the great benefits of the Razorback Greenway. By providing access to our creeks and streams, residents can now see potential environmental problems. And they have answered by exhibiting a sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of our treasured water resources.

 

Siting Spot Along Greenway Trail

Razorback Greenway provides access to our creeks and streams

Trail users can look forward to seeing the IRWP’s green infrastructure demonstration projects implemented at five trailheads along the Razorback Regional Greenway between now and 2016! These demonstrations will be geared toward watershed conservation and public education.

The Northwest Arkansas Council leads a Tour de Greenway ride on the fourth Saturday of each month to introduce residents to the local trails. The approximately 40-mile bike ride alternates starting locations (either Walker Park in Fayetteville or Lake Bella Vista near Veterans Memorial) each month. For more information, visit nwatrails.org and click on the Events page.

Another exciting event coming up that showcases this important nexxus of trails and waterways is the Tour de Cave bike ride set for Saturday, July 19. The ride will begin at the Illinois River Watershed Partnership’s Watershed Learning Center at 221 S. Main St. in Cave Springs. It will follow quiet, scenic back roads to the Razorback Greenway and back.

 

Additional Resources:

Northwest Arkansas Trails

IRWP Tour de Cave Bike Ride

 

Related Posts:

5 for 5: Five Green Infrastructure Features at Five Razorback Greenway Trailheads

The Great Watershed Quest

Paddler’s Post: 10 Adventure Destinations in the Illinois River Watershed