(MENA, Ark.) – Earlier today at the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain in Mena, representatives of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, the Ouachita National Forest, the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation and the city of Mena formalized a memorandum of understanding to begin exploration of a trail expansion project in the Mena area.
The memorandum outlines the group’s intent to cooperate to explore expanding trail opportunities within and adjacent to Queen Wilhelmina State Park, the Ouachita National Forest and the city of Mena.
“This cooperative effort creates exciting possibilities for future outdoor recreation in this beautiful corner of our state,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “So much potential exists for expanding the current recreational opportunities and tourism attractions.”
Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism; Felipe Cano, acting deputy forest supervisor for the Ouachita National Forest; Mitchell Allen, trail project manager of the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation; and Seth Smith, mayor of Mena, signed the agreement.
“We are committed to exploring this project alongside our partners,” Cano said. “The Ouachita National Forest is a natural treasure in Arkansas. Finding new ways for people to enjoy its beauty and recreational opportunities while maintaining a commitment to conservation are top priorities.”
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is located atop Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest peak, and offers breathtaking views. Visitors can travel the Talimena National Scenic Byway to arrive at the park, which includes 41 campsites, picnic areas and trails.
The Ouachita National Hiking Trail (National Recreation Trail) is an east-west corridor which extends from Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock to Talimena State Park near Talihina, Oklahoma. A portion of the trail is open for mountain biking and is an International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic Trail.
“The majestic nature of the terrain along with the area’s existing trail system, such as the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, have attracted countless visitors over the years,” Suzanne Grobmyer, executive director of the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, said. “If completed, this trail development would be the type of system that would be a beacon for mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and other recreational enthusiasts across the globe.”
Mena was founded in 1896 as a railroad town at the eastern foot of Rich Mountain and is the eastern terminus of the Talimena National Scenic Byway.
“We’re proud of what we have in Mena, but we are also looking to the future,” Smith said. “Our residents are eager to see the area grow, and I think this project has the potential to be a game-changer for our city.”
Event photos can be accessed at: https://tourismarkansas.mediavalet.com/portals/MenaMOUsigning
Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with ASP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Stacy Hurst serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.