One thing I love about Arkansas is the geographical diversity the state has to offer. Most people think of outdoor recreation in The Natural State as hiking to awe-inspiring vistas in the Ozark or Ouachita Mountains. However, Arkansas offers six distinct natural regions, not just the Ozarks and Ouachitas. The Mississippi River Delta, one of the six, doesn’t get its fair share of praise. There is so much natural beauty and history in the Delta. The Delta Heritage Trail showcases the region and the Watson to Rohwer section of the trail is a great way to explore it.
The Watson to Rowher section of the Delta Heritage Trail is 9.4 miles. The Delta Heritage Trail is a Rails-to-Trails project. You will find Rails-to-Trails all across the country. They are abandoned railroad tracks that have been converted into trails for hiking and biking. Because they are wide and gentle sloping, they make excellent bike paths.
While biking the nearly 10 miles from Watson to Rowher along the Delta Heritage Trail, I thought, “This is my kind of trail – flat, wide, and straight.” For those, like me who are terrified of breaking an arm while mountain biking, the Delta Heritage Trail is a great choice. For the road bikers who wish to not be hit by a car driving 55 (or actually 65) miles per hour, it is also a great choice because there is a buffer between you and the traffic on the parts where the trail follows a highway. The Watson to Rohwer section follows along Arkansas Highway 1, which is part of the Great River Road National Scenic Highway. For a map of the entire trail, click here.
Delta Heritage Trail State Park
The Delta Heritage Trail State Park is much more than the nearly 10 miles from Watson to Rohwer. When completed the trail will be nearly 85 miles long and stretch as a continual path from Lexa, west of Helena-West Helena, to Arkansas City, east of McGehee.
At the time of this blog post is published, 20.6 miles of trail have been completed going from Lexa to Elaine. And 23.8 miles of trail have been completed from Watson to Arkansas City. That leaves roughly 40 miles to be completed between Elaine and Watson. But when completed the trail will span over the Arkansas and White Rivers. It is will also take you through one of the most remote areas in Arkansas.
At the Barton and Arkansas City trailheads, the park has a visitor center and campgrounds. Other trailheads offer a mix of restrooms, picnic tables, and bicycle repair stations. All trailheads have parking and information kiosks.
Watson to Rohwer Section
Both Watson and Rohwer trailheads have information kiosks, parking, restrooms, and picnic tables. Rohwer also has a bicycle maintenance station.
Because you bike through a tunnel of trees, the Delta Heritage Trail from Watson to Rowher is mostly shaded. It took me two hours and 20 minutes to bike the section. I did take a little extra time at Rohwer to explore the heritage site there.
During the Watson to Rohwer section of the Delta Heritage Trail, the Rails-to-Trail path parallels the highway the entire time. Through the tree buffer, you are treated to views of farming fields.
Right around mile 6 of your ride and mile marker 66, you cross over a slough, or slow-moving river. After that, the tree tunnel opens up, and you are flanked by beautiful fields on both sides of the trail. I really enjoyed this part because it shows what the forest looked like before European settlers came and farming was established in the region.
The Delta Heritage Trail has mile markers along the trail, and from Watson to Rohwer you ride between mile-markers 60-69. These are great to help you keep yourself oriented.
Rohwer Heritage Site
One reason to ride along with the Watson to Rohwer section of the Delta Heritage Trail is to learn about the Rohwer Heritage Site. Rohwer was one of the Japanese American Relocation Centers during World War II.
No structures still stand today. The only thing left is a monument and cemetery, but information placards tell you the story. Between 1942 and 1945 more than 8,000 Japanese Americans were interned there. Residents of Rohwer, which included actor George Takei, where forced to move from the West Coast and leave behind their possessions, homes, businesses, and communities–their entire lives.
You can learn more about Rohwer here.
Make reservations for Taylor’s Steakhouse
When you have finished your nearly 10-mile bike ride, stop by Taylor’s Steakhouse in Dumas. You might want to make reservations though because it is are a popular choice for people from as far away as Little Rock and beyond. Taylor’s was recently voted the Best Steak Around Arkansas by the Arkansas Times.
Watson to Rohwer Delta Heritage Trail
The Delta Heritage Trail is long and offers so much to explore in the Mississippi River Delta region. Biking this 9.4-mile section is a great way to see the beauty of the Delta and learn some of the histories of the region.