A greater than average amount of rainfall in Arkansas has led to flash flooding and other hazards in the state. It also could lead to potentially risky hiking conditions in state parks.
While it is impossible for Arkansas State Parks to keep an exact tally the number of people who visit, Monika Rued with Arkansas State Parks, says rain deters people from visiting parks. However, for those who do want to hike even in rainy weather, Rued says there are some steps people should take before visiting a park. Those include checking the weather and contacting the park directly so you know what to expect with the trail.
“There could be water crossings that you would have to cross on the trail that normally wouldn’t be there, but are after a heavy rain. So you just want to make sure you know what you’re getting into before you head out,” Rued said. According to Rued, several parks in the Delta region deal with rising water to the point where some trails could potentially close. However, those closures are usually only temporary.
Rued says it is important to bring the right equipment with you when visiting, especially the right hiking shoes.
“If it has been raining heavily, then you want to make sure you have a waterproof shoe. Wet feet are more prone to blistering and nothing is worse than fighting a blister on a trail,” Rued said. In addition to waterproof shoes, Rued recommends other equipment for traveling on wet trails like hiking poles, and waterproof bags for electronic devices.
For those undeterred by rainy conditions, Rued says there are a few trails that are even prettier after it rains, such as the Cedar Falls trail in Petit Jean State Park which ends with a 90 foot waterfall. Rued says there is an option for those who don’t want to make the hike.
“We also have a barrier free walkway that is an overlook to Cedar Falls so you can see it that way also,” Rued said. Those with smaller children should be careful about what park to visit, and if the rain is too much, Rued says there is an inside option for some of the state parks.
“Several of our state parks have incredible visitor centers. They’re really discovery centers where you can go inside and there’s interactive exhibits and we do some programming inside when it’s raining.” Overall, no matter what park you visit, Rued recommends contacting officials at the park to know just what to expect.
“They know the trails and the parks better than anybody and they’ll be able to give you great data into the conditions of the trails and what you need to be aware of,” Rued said.