New Hiking Trail at Natural Area

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Thursday, April 26, 2018 2018 - Thursday, April 26, 2018

Work has been completed on a new hiking trail at Devil’s Knob-Devil’s Backbone Natural Area (DKDBNA) in Izard County. The trail is open to the public and will be dedicated in a ceremony later this year. Blue diamonds mark the path of this moderately difficult trail.

DKDBNA became part of the ANHC’s System of Natural Areas in 1976. It is named for its most prominent features: a rocky knob that rises as high as 1,058 feet, a long saddle called the Devil’s Backbone, and a second knob that is connected to the first by the saddle. The 1.25-mile loop hiking trail starts and ends at the main parking area and showcases the beauty of the natural area as visitors walk past glades, woodlands, a shelter bluff, overlook sites and Ashe’s juniper (Juniperus ashei) woodlands, estimated to be hundreds of years old.

The idea to add a trail at the natural area came at the suggestion of Izard County Judge Eric Smith. Smith contacted the ANHC about the possibility of adding a trail and expanded, improved parking. Special thanks to Smith and Izard County for their assistance in parking area improvements and the inspiration for the hiking trail.

DKDBNA comprises more than 820 acres, including woodlands, forests, glades and bluffs, which are home to a variety of plant and animal life, including several rare species. Ashe’s juniper woodlands are found on the south-facing slopes of both knobs. The more northerly slopes support stunted hardwood forests. Sandstone glades occur on the saddle, while the lower elevations of the natural area are covered with a relatively young oak-hickory and post oak-blackjack oak forest.