One thing I love about exploring Arkansas is the different types of geological regions there are in The Natural State. The Delta Region can be just as beautiful as the mountains of the Ozarks and Ouachitas. The Delta is also rich with history and a great place to explore. Biking along the Delta Heritage Trail from Rohwer to Arkansas City is a fantastic way to soak up some of that culture and see the beauty of the region.
The Delta Heritage Trail is a Rails-to-Trails project that, when completed, will be nearly 85 miles long. It stretches from Lexa, near Helena-West Helena, to Arkansas City. Currently, you can ride from Lexa to Elaine for 20.6 miles and from Watson to Arkansas City for 23.8 miles.
Finding the trail
The last time I rode the Delta Heritage Trail it was from Watson to Rohwer, which is a gravel trail along the old rail bed. However, the portion of the Delta Heritage Trail from Rohwer to Arkansas City is along the bike lanes of the highway. This is part of the Great River Road Scenic Drive.
While leaving the Rohwer Trailhead, my sister, brother-in-law, and I were a bit confused because we thought it continued along the gravel path. The Rohwer to Arkansas City portion of the Delta Heritage Trail crosses Highway 1 and follows Rohwer Road, directly across the highway from the trailhead. Shortly, Rohwer Road makes a 90-degree turn to the left, but you want to continue straight onto Rohwer Lane.
Rohwer to Arkansas City Section
After you ride onto Rohwer Lane you quickly cross over Boggy Bayou, and then the road opens up into fields on both sides. After 1.5 miles of riding, you get the one and only uphill portion of the ride. This is the climb to the top of the levee.
Once on the levee, you are treated to delta forests on your left and delta farmland on your right. You can see a paper mill in the distance as you ride toward it. It is almost halfway between Rohwer and Arkansas City on the Delta Heritage Trail. So it’s a good gauge for how far you have ridden.
When you explore nature, you usually want to shy away from the industry, but the name of the trail is the Delta Heritage Trail. And the industry is a big part of river life. At the mill and the few miles south of it, you are the closest to the Mississippi River along this portion of the trail.
Part of what makes the Delta — well a delta — is its flooded timbers and wetlands that surround the river. This makes the land around the river remote. And with changing river channels and oxbow lakes, there is a large buffer of wildlands around the Mighty Mississippi.
Livestock also roams freely along some of this portion of the Delta Heritage Trail. It is neat to see this part of the Delta Culture.
However, in addition to livestock, be on the lookout for wildlife. I saw two bald eagles and an alligator on my ride on the Delta Heritage Trail from Rohwer to Arkansas City.
Arkansas City is a quaint small delta town with many historic buildings. The words “Levee Life” hang on the side of one of the historic buildings, giving the town a sense of place and culture. Arkansas City has a rich history and signs at the Delta Heritage Trail trailhead give great information on this.
“Arkansas Money and Politics” ran a great article about the businessmen and politicians hoping to bring life to this beautiful town of about 400. Hopefully, someday it will become a destination for bikers, hunters, and vacationers.
Rohwer also has a rich history. If you want to add a little more to your ride, you can go north from the Rohwer trailhead and explore the former Japanese-American internment camp. You can read about its history in my blog post on the Watson to Rohwer section of the Delta Heritage Trail.
Rohwer to Arkansas City Delta Heritage Trail
The Rohwer to Arkansas City section of the Delta Heritage Trail is a wonderful section of this unique park. It shows how the Mississippi River Delta is used in many ways. And seeing an alligator was a great highlight for me.