Watchable Wildlife

Watchable Wildlife (The “ADA” Trail)

Lovin' the LOViT's Elevated Walkway

Lovin’ the LOViT’s Elevated Walkway

Description:

This portion of the LOViT trail is designed to bring all users, including those who may be physically challenged, closer to nature. The entire trail segment is a 1.25 mile loop including a level paved area with benches and an Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) elevated walkway allowing users to access a wild wetland area at the south end of the Denby Bay area. The Trail circles a large open field, follows along the bank of Gap Creek as it flows into the bay, and then ducks beneath the towering canopy of a densely wooded area changing from woods to marsh and then open water. The elevated walkway, about .25 miles long, also connects to a bridge over Gap Creek. Cross the bridge to the .5 mile Gap Creek spur, which terminates at the old Highway 270 bridge and a small parking area.

Stone Sign - Watchable Wildlife - LOViT

An attractive stone sign marks the pavilion at the ADA Watchable Wildlife Trailhead

 When designing the Trail, we planned three short wheelchair-accessible spurs from the main trail to the edge of Gap Creek, where we quietly observed largemouth bass depositing their eggs in a clear rocky eddy along the shore of the creek. During the winter months, visitors are able to walk among hundreds of Coots, Pin Tail Ducks, Loons, Wood Ducks and on a good day even observe Bald Eagles fishing or harvesting Coots for lunch.

The trailhead currently includes a restroom, parking, and an information kiosk highlighting historical details of the trail and the lake.

Bridge Over Gap Creek - Watchable Wildlife - LOViT

This bridge crosses Gap Creek along LOViT’s Watchable Wildlife trail.

There remains an intent to continuously develop habitat for field and wood birds, including planting seed-producing grasses, wild flowers, fruit trees, and native berry-bearing bushes generating year-around forage for birds and wildlife all along the Watchable Wildlife trail segment. Additionally, the LOViT Traildogs and the Montgomery County Master Gardeners are planning guided interpretive hikes along this section of the trail.

The ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the Trail occurred October 7, 2011.

Surrounding Area:

This trail is at the edge Lake Ouachita, near the Denby Bay Trailhead. Lake Ouachita Shores Resort is across the bay.

Length:

1.25 miles.

Difficulty:

Easy, handicapped accessible.

Amenities:

Restroom, water.

Directions to Trailhead:

Go 9 miles east from Mount Ida, or 25 miles west from Hot Springs, on Highway 270 to Shangri-La Road. You can’t miss the Shangri-La Resort sign. Go one block up Shangri-La Road to the first road on your left, Old Highway 270, go two blocks or so and you will see the parking area and information kiosk on your left. This would be a great place to begin developing your walking skills while enjoying the area wildlife. But if you pass the kiosk and continue along Old 270 just a bit further, you can access the main trail at the Denby Bay Trailhead.

Accommodations:

Lake Ouachita Shores Resort (no restaurant) is across the bay. Tompkins Bend campground and Shangri-La Resort and restaurant are on Shangri-La Rd.


Recent articles about the Watchable Wildlife (“ADA”) Trail:

Two New Bench Plaques on LOViT’s Elevated Walkway – July 8, 2015

On Wednesday, July 8, Traildogs Jerry Shields and Al Gathright placed two plaques on adjacent benches along LOViT’s elevated walkway, part of the Watchable Wildlife Trail Segment.

The two bench plaques were donated in honor of Diann Gathright’s dad and her uncle. The benches are side-by-side on the fishing pier part of the raised walkway. It is appropriate to have the brothers together near the lake they loved.  Here’s their story as told by Diann’s sister, Pam Howell:


The Boys of the Lake

by P.R. Howell

If people didn’t know better, they would have sworn they were twins.

They looked alike, talked alike, laughed alike, and possessed a kinship beyond being older and younger brother (one of two). They were friends.

Their friendship was fostered – as anyone who had the good fortune to hear their boyhood stories – through a series of adventures and misadventures while growing up in North Louisiana and South Texas, the kind that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would find a competition for fun and mischief.

Traildog Jerry Shields placing the new LOViT plaque dedicated to Earnest Howell.

Traildog Jerry Shields placing the new LOViT plaque dedicated to Earnest Howell.

But what they had in common – love of God, of family, of country – was just the embroidery sewn on the fabric on this brotherhood/friendship. What really united them, what they talked about beyond their kids and grandkids, was The Lake and fishing, Fishing and the Lake.

Dorsey Howell lived most of his life in Arvada (Denver), Colorado, and Earnest Howell lived most of his life never ten minutes from a watering hole in Arkansas that could hold a boat, a man with a fishing pole, and the love of the sport, solitude when allowed , companionship when given. But where they loved to meet beyond any other place was Lake Ouachita, enjoy the hospitality of Al and Diann Gathright (elder daughter of Earnest) but, moreover, The Lake itself.

"Alpha" Traildog Jerry installing the plaque dedicated to Dorsey Howell on a bench adjacent to that dedicated to his brother, Earnest.

“Alpha” Traildog Jerry installing the plaque dedicated to Dorsey Howell on a bench adjacent to that dedicated to his brother, Earnest.

In younger years, they enjoyed “roughing it” in tents, on picnic tables, and fold-out chairs along the shores near Little Fir or Joplin, where they launched tents, boats, children to the water with Ivory soap, and heated cast iron pots for the daily or weekly catch, depending on the skill (or luck) of the lines and the rods and reels. Once older, and not as mobile (Earnest “handicapped” all of his life from an industrial accident in his late twenties, and Dorsey, slower moving, from a couple of knee replacements as a result of the daily hazards of his occupation), the two brothers still met at the Gathrights to go to The Lake – even if it meant launching from the pier of Shangri-La, rather than from the rocky shores of their favorite camping areas.

Even on the rare occasion they couldn’t even do that, they were still happy to meet at The Lake, send the others out to the day’s catch, launching them with the wisdom they had accumulated through the years about the art of fishing (“Just do it!”), and await their return for the rounds of tall tales, shared laughter, and a communion known only between fishermen but enjoyed by all.

Earnest passed away in August 2014 and Dorsey, who really never recovered from his grief, passed away in February 2015.

But on the memorial benches that bear their names from family and friends who love and miss them are the two men united in spirit, welcoming all to come out on the handicap ramp and deck built by The Traildogs to get as close to The Lake as they can.

And on some days, in the quiet of the evening, as dusk falls, those who knew them can hear their words and laughter, see their eyes sparkle, and feel the kinship of love of The Lake – and each other – Earnest and Dorsey will forever share.

Italian Writer Discovers the LOViT – October 22, 2014

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Traildog Robert Cavanaugh had a great day Wednesday, Oct. 22. Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department asked Robert to lead her and two visitors from Italy on a mountain bike ride on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.

Carlo is a magazine writer and is working on an article on Arkansas. He is a skier and a mountain biker. His friend, Giuliana, is a road biker. Zoie is a very good rider and is a great friend of the LOViT.

We spent the day riding the trail, taking pictures, and then finished it up with a great meal at Shangri-La Resort (and a piece of the best banana crème pie in the known universe). A great ride with some very nice people. Click on the image below to view pictures from their time on the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.
(Click this image to view more photos of this event.)

Carlo has promised a copy of the article when it’s been published.  We’ll look forward to sharing that on our website.

LOViT Marathon – Dec. 8, 2012

A bunch of Traildogs worked the LOViT Marathon this morning. The race is put on yearly by Phil and Bonnie Carr of Shangri-La Resort.  About 70 runners participated this year and enjoyed moderate and overcast weather, perfect for the run.

The course begins at the corner of Shangri-La Road and the corner of old Highway 270, proceeds to the Denby Bay Trailhead on the LOViT, and then follows the Trail up to the top of Hickory Nut Mountain, for an out distance of 14+ miles.  The return trip takes the cutoff from the Joplin to Tompkins Bend segment across to the Homestead Trailhead, and then back in, accounting for the remaining 12 miles of the marathon.

The ‘Dogs working the various aid stations want to thank Bonnie and Varine Carr for supplying the chili and banana pie.  Very much appreciated!

This was a great event, and everyone, runners and Traildogs, had a good time.

Click here for 2012 LOViT Marathon Results.  Also, a participant’s view of the race is here.

Here are a few photos from the event.

 

 

Recent ADA Trail Work

A small group of Traildogs completed the installation of the gravel pavers around the six pieces of exercise equipment at the ADA trailhead on Monday, October 1. The Corps of Engineers had generously provided five additional rolls of the paver material, which was exactly the amount required. As the materials weather and settle, this will provide a very stable surface in and around the equipment and will meet all American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements at the site.

All we need to complete the planned work is installing some field stone on the south side of the equipment to provide a border from the open field. We are seeking a supply of field stone to complete this project.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, we had five volunteers assisting with the cleaning and trimming of the ADA handicap accessible section of the Trail.  The trees and bushes that line the outer edge of the trail were encroaching on the trail as they reach for any available sunlight.

Trimming tree branches along the ADA Trail

Trimming tree branches along the ADA Trail.

In additional there were several large limbs that had fallen as a result of several storms.  We trimmed the entire length of the paved and elevated trail and removed all of the limb debris.  It was perfect weather for the work day, and within two hours we had completed the task.  Thanks to Gail, Dan, Loren, Derwood, and myself, the ADA trail is in pristine condition.