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Maumelle Park offers pleasant stint in the wonderful outdoors

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Outdoor writer and photographer Corbet Deary is featured regularly in The Sentinel-Record. Today, Deary writes about Maumelle Park.

I recently covered the Dardanelle Lock and Dam section of the Arkansas River. Well, this article, too, will focus on a section of the river, just a little farther downstream from the aforementioned destination.

This section of the river is also a part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which consists of a string of locks and dams that facilitate the travel of tugs along the waterway from Oklahoma to where the river converges with the mighty Mississippi.

Maumelle Park is situated along the banks of the river within a few miles of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The facility is also located close to Murray Lock and Dam, and in turn rests aside a large pool, providing outdoor enthusiasts with a plethora of opportunities to get out and enjoy their favorite activities.

The Sentinel-Record/Corbet Deary RIVERSIDE: Maumelle Park is located on the banks of the Arkansas River alongside the pool that is formed by Murray Lo...

The waterway provides boating enthusiasts ample opportunity to experience their preferred sport while savoring the scenery along the shoreline. In fact, many boats are docked at the slips located within sight of the recreation area. However, a boat ramp is also located on site, deeming this particular section of water as a great destination for those who prefer storing their crafts elsewhere and trailering them to various destinations.

And, of course, where there's water, there are fishing opportunities. And it just so happens that the navigation pool produced by Murray Lock and Dam is bountiful with native fish species. In turn, anglers show up with anticipation of action-packed outings.

Many consider the Arkansas River as a premier fishery for catfish, and rightfully so. One can obviously experience their fair share of success while bank fishing. But there are also those serious catfshing anglers who prefer the luxury of fishing for this delectable species from a boat.

Although guilty of catfishing from time to time, I grow most excited about the largemouth bass that swim within the perimeters of the river's banks. Bass fishing on the river is a popular activity, and rightfully so.

Although the waterway is most noted for coughing up huge catfish, it has also been known to provide bass anglers with occasional trophies, as well. In fact, there are those anglers who notoriously gravitate toward Murray Lock and Dam section when tournaments are held on the river.

Although the large tributary provides an environment much different from the lakes many of us are most accustomed to fishing, those fishing the river can experience success with the same lures.

These river bass are no different from any other in the sense that they are cover oriented. And they also feed predominantly on baitfish. In turn, any lure resembling a shad or other small fish living in the river will prove effective. Spinnerbaits are also popular choices, as the waters are often murky.

White bass are plentiful along this section of water, as are hybrids. And anybody who has fished for these two species will be quick to agree that they are fierce fighters.

Those with a sweet tooth for panfish might also consider the waters near the Maumelle camping area as a potential destination. Crappie are caught on a regular basis, some of impressive stature. Bream can also be found near cover.

OK, how about those who are not avid anglers? Well, there are plenty of other activities waiting at the Maumelle campground. In fact, my wife and I recently stopped by the facility without any intentions of fishing and had a great time.

The park is a great location where one can partake in a little wildlife watching, especially birds. Canada geese are plentiful in the park. Although often proving somewhat of a pest, these large, vocal birds are somewhat interesting to watch.

Sandy and I noticed a goose and her entourage of goslings. Although I would suspect she might grow somewhat aggressive if one was to crowd her babies, she did allow us to ease close enough to watch the juveniles' antics as they went about their everyday rituals.

We also watched a mallard pair browsing for food. The ducks were obviously accustomed to humans and related us with the next potential meal. They literally waddled within a few feet of us, I suppose expecting a handout.

The facility is a great location where one can simply pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic under the canopy of the large native hardwoods taking root in the fertile soil. And I would also suspect that the playground equipment is a popular destination for those who have young children.

One might also consider a hike along the Nuttail Trail after partaking in a meal amid Mother Nature. The path is not remotely as scenic as the nearby trails at the state park. However, the 0.4-mile asphalt route is a great destination where one can embark upon a short jaunt and enjoy the natural surroundings. In fact, it's a great destination for those who are physically limited. The path is also a great option for those who long to introduce young children to hiking.

A basketball court is also located within the perimeters of the recreation area, lending to opportunities for those who are sports minded.

Although confident many utilize the facility to enjoy all of the previously mentioned activities, camping appears to be the most popular of all. And judging from the number of campers that we recently saw at the facility, the park remains busy throughout the warmer season of the year.

The park sports 128 campsites, all of which are either within feet or close to the river. Each site is equipped with water and electrical hookups. Although these sites are designed with RVs in mind, those who prefer tent camping are also welcomed to rent these spots.

And those who prefer a more primitive means of camping would likely appreciate the some of the other amenities that are available to those renting spots. Flush toilets are always welcomed, as is accessible drinking water. But one can't disregard yet another perk. That's right -- showers are also located at the facility. And that's a luxury that certainly deems an extended stay in the outdoors much more pleasant.

Here we are in the heart of a season when the temperature is mild and the scenery is unsurpassed. That in mind, one might consider a short drive to Maumelle Park where they can spend a pleasant stint in the wonderful outdoors.

To get to Maumelle Park from Hot Springs, take Highway 70 east to Interstate 30 and continue east for 17 miles, then take Exit 129 onto I-430. Go 8.6 miles and take the Highway 10/Cantrell Road exit (Exit 9). Turn left onto Highway 10 and travel 2.8 miles. Take a right onto Pinnacle Valley Road, and go 2.5 miles. The entrance to the park will be on the right.

Local on 05/16/2018

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