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September 1999

Arkansas’s Butterfield Trail

Once a bumpy stagecoache route, Arkansas's Butterfield Trail now jostles hikers.

QUICK TAKE: Devil’s Den State Park, AR

DRIVE TIME: Devil’s Den State Park is about 316 miles (41/2 hours) northeast of Dallas, and 260 miles (4 hours) south of Kansas City, Missouri.

THE WAY: From Forth Smith, take I-540 north to the Winslow exit, then follow AR 74 west 7 miles. Stop at the visitor center for a map and directions to Camping Area A. The trailhead is at the rear of the Camp A loop.

TRAILS: The Butterfield Trail loop is 15 miles of mostly streamside hiking. The park contains an additional 5.5 miles of hiking loops that lead to caves, natural bridges, and towering rock outcrops, as well as 20 miles of horse and mountain bike trails you’re welcome to hike.

ELEVATION: Lee Creek is the low point, at 500 feet. The Butterfield Trail tops out at 1,000 feet on Holt Ridge.

CAN’T MISS: Catch the ridgetop view of Lee Creek Valley at the south end of the loop, or go for a swim at the confluence of Blackburn and Lee Creeks.

CROWD CONTROL: Devil’s Den is a popular park, but on the trail and away from the cave and camping areas, it’s just you and the chipmunks.

PIT STOP: Drop in at the Pack Rat Outdoor Center on East Township Road in Fayetteville for gear, maps, and sage advice.

WALK SOFTLY: Leave the caves to the bats. Camp and do your biological duty far from streams and springs.

MAPS AND GUIDES: A trail map and brief guide is available at the Devil’s Den Visitor Center (address below). Or call noted guidebook author Tim Ernst for a copy of his Arkansas Hiking Guide (800-838-4453; $21.95).

MORE INFORMATION: Devil’s Den State Park, Rt. 1, Box 118, West Fork, AR 72774; (501) 761-3325. Free permits are required for overnight backpacking.

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