“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
– Richard Louv
Before having children, I read a book that changed my life and my perspectives on parenting, “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. It’s a powerful book about the importance of nature in childhood. His follow-up book, “The Nature Principle”, addresses the same importance of nature for humans of every age.
Season After Season
When we first moved to the Texarkana area and my children were very little, we began exploring the newly completed trails system at Bringle Lake, starting small with a stroll from one “gnome home” to the next. We made it a part of our weekly rhythm, returning week after week, month after month, and season after season. We’ve seen our favorite climbing tree in every season, watched Pileated woodpeckers zoom from tree to tree, I’ve been almost sideswiped by a Barred Owl while running, and we’ve had our share of wipeouts thanks to the roots on the trails by the lake. My daughter has a story she has woven over the last six years of hikes, telling me a bit more of the tale each time we hike under the adventure doorway. (You’ll know the tree when you see it).
Miles to Explore
Did you know that there are over ten miles (and growing) of single-track trails right in Texarkana? The wider Wilderness trail stretches almost seven miles, from Bringle Lake East, all the way around Bringle Lake and back out near the Texarkana Golf Ranch. You can take the sidewalk on University Avenue back to your starting point. The single-track trail system, built entirely by volunteers, has a color-coded trail rating for difficulty and there are over seven miles of trail, from the easy green trail, red intermediate, and the black advanced trail (which is under construction). Or you can enjoy the mile and a half walk from the Bringle East parking lot back to the spillway which has been transformed into an art park over the last few years.
5 Things to do at Bringle Lake:
- Try to find the Geocaches! There are at least two of them hidden around the lake. Check out the Geocaching app for iPhone and Android.
- Check out the gnome homes along the Green trail (the single track trail, the entrance is behind the large map sign to the left of bathrooms). Sometimes there are surprises hidden behind those doors! Or, leave a painted rock behind the door as a surprise for the next family, or for the gnomes.
- Go on a nature hike! Use the SEEK by iNaturalist app to identify the flora and fauna you spot along the trail.
- Walk back to the Art Park at the spillway and go on a selfie safari with all of the fun public art.
- Bike the single-track trail – be sure to follow the signs for which direction to go on the trails (foot traffic should be moving in the opposite direction of bike traffic). Or, see if you can make it all the way around the lake, either on foot or on your bike.
If you head out to enjoy some nearby nature time, please be respectful of the hard work put in by city workers and volunteers to keep the park clean. Picnics are wonderful but do not litter and please clean up after yourselves. Parties are fun too, but confetti is terrible for the environment and can actually be lethal for birds and other animals as they mistake it for food. Remember, you are in nature and it’s home to all sorts of critters, big and small. Be aware of your surroundings and use caution when picking up sticks or moving logs. Please take only photos, and leave only footprints, so that we can all continue to enjoy this beautiful public park.
Recently, the volunteers who have worked so hard to build trails and bridges at Bringle were dealt a tough hand, when their tools and wood were stolen. Would you consider helping replenish their wood and replace some tools? There is a GoFundMe set up for the owner of Berridge Bikes, who is also the mastermind behind this great trail system.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful time exploring the Bringle Lake Trail System! The outdoors are for everyone and there are no ability requirements for heading outside to explore and have some fun. Happy exploring!
Click HERE for a trail map!
Nichole is a freelance writer located in southwest Arkansas, who loves all things outdoors including gardening, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing. She is a homeschooling mother to two, and they are entering their seventh year of homeschooling! They are an adventure and outdoor-loving family of four, who are often embarking on day trips and road trips to chase some shenanigans. As a family, they love supporting small and local businesses, especially local bookstores and coffee shops. Nichole hopes to inspire others to see the wonder and adventure in both the big and the small, close to home and on the road. You can follow their adventures on Instagram by following them at @coleyraeh.