Today we’re excited to announce the launch of “Take A Hike,” a new, weekly series that examines diversity in the outdoors. With mountains, forests, rivers and lakes across the state, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring the Great Outdoors in Arkansas.
In each installment of this series, we’ll highlight one of the Natural State’s 52 state parks and talk to BIPOC Arkansans about what they enjoy about spending time in nature.
Name: Niketa Reed
Hometown: West Fork, Arkansas
Occupation: University of Arkansas media professor, Arkansas Soul executive director
Favorite Outdoor Space: Low-key bike/walk trails or quirky, cozy retail areas that are walkable and vibrant — especially on early autumn evenings.
What’s one outdoor place you want to explore, but haven’t yet?
Buffalo National River! I don’t know why I haven’t made it out there yet, but it’s definitely on the list.
I’m also itching to get back to Mt. Magazine. We visited there for a conference a few years back ,but didn’t get much time to explore the trails.
What do you enjoy about the outdoors?
Most of the time when I’m outdoors, I like being able to retreat into my thoughts — even if I’m going on a walk with my 2-year-old son, Baby David. Just take a break from all the things floating in and out of my mind and be present.
What is the importance of sharing time outdoors with your son?
When we’re outdoors, I get a chance to show him how to appreciate the little things. Pausing to feel the cool breeze that just tried to take his hat. Gazing at water and plant life. Thanking the Earth for all its beauty.
I believe the more time we share in nature, the more he’ll grow to respect it when he’s older. It’s also a great way for us to bond and help mommy get fit!
ABOUT THE PARK
Devil’s Den State Park, which is located in West Fork in the northwest corner of the state, was selected as a state park site in the 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corps used native materials to build the park’s rustic-style wood and stone structures that mirror the park’s natural surroundings. According to Arkansas State Parks, it now stands as one of the most intact CCC sites in the U.S., with a legacy you can see in its trails and buildings like its original cabins.
Some of the park’s unique characteristics are rock formations and caverns. An impressive rock dam spans Lee Creek forming Lake Devil, an 8-acre lake for fishing and boating with canoes and pedal boats for rent. The park’s hiking, backpacking, mountain bike, and horseback riding trails lead to the surrounding Ozark National Forest.
Devil’s Den includes 17 cabins with kitchens and fireplaces and 6 camper cabins. The park also offers 135 campsites and 42 sites with hookups in the horse camp that includes a bathhouse and access to the horse trails. The park’s cafe is open seasonally. The pool is open in the summer only. Devil’s Den also features a group camp, standard pavilion, playground, store, and meeting room.