The Bench Rock Nature trail is an excellent choice for those looking for a casual morning or sunset hike. The 1.4 mile trail is a casual hike, with a few sections of slight incline/decline that make the trail more interesting rather than more difficult. At the beginning or end of the trail (depending on which direction you head off in) there is nice stretch of the trail that traverses the top of a series of bluff lines. This is definitely a cool party of the trail but should be approached with caution.
The casual nature to the trail could lead you into this section without full attention of the potential danger of falling off the ledge. The its about 35-40 feet up so definitely keep an active mind about it. The trail can be hiked in under an hour with a good pace. At the trailhead, you can either go down the trail to the left or up the trail to the right. The left route places you on the lower section of the loop first, the right route leads to the more elevated portion. I suggest going to the left first. The historical features are first up in this direction, followed by the more elevated portion (which includes the bluff lines) that make for a great way to end the hike with a great view of the Beaver Lake.
What Makes It Great
The trail is well maintain and marked for hikers of all experience levels. My favorite part of the hike is the setting. The trail is essentially on a peninsula that is surrounded by Beaver Lake. There is a cool, lake/island/beach vibe in the air that makes the temperature of the area much more stable and enjoyable. Due to this, the hike is a great candidate for a late Spring or Summer hike, but is also enjoyable all year around.
Throughout the duration of the hike there are consistent views of Beaver Lake which makes the experience unique from other hiking trips. There is also quite a bit of historical significance to the area dating back to 500 B.C.. The “Ozark Bluff Dwellers” lived throughout the region and the trail passes a few overhangs that they used for shelter. It was definitely cool to think about the societies of the past lived throughout the Lake region. The high up vantage point makes it especially easy for mind to imagine.
Who is Going to Love It
Nature lovers, those interested in history, and casual outdoor enthusiasts. The trail offers a great, quick escape into nature while still having the nearby facilities of Indian Creek Public Park easily accessible. Those looking for a strenuous hike should look elsewhere. The region has a considerable amount of offerings in the more advanced department - The Ozark Highland Trail and The Buffalo River Trail to name a few. This hike, in essence, is for those looking for a casual, leisure hike while enjoying the fresh atmosphere of a lake environment.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The trailhead is on the right side of the road. Be on the look out for a small bridge next to the road that leads to the trailhead. Parking is available either right before this bridge, on the left side of the road, or at the end of the road in Indian Creek Public Park. Dog are allowed if on a leash. Family friendly for sure. No fees associated with usage. Just make sure to keep it nice and clean - Arkansas is the Natural State!