Best-kept secret

Best-kept secret

Outdoors Columnist

Would you visit a place where there is fishing, boating, horseback riding, hiking trails, camp sites, nice cabins with all amenities and even play golf on a 27 hole world class course? All in one place and only a one hour drive from the Memphis bridges! The place is Village Creek State Park located 13 miles off I40 just before Forrest City or 6 miles south on Hwy. 284 from Wynne. The park is set on Crowley’s Ridge with its rolling hills, creeks and majestic trees.

The first thing to do is visit the Visitor Center for maps and information about the park. The Visitor Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and even later in the summer. The ladies in the Center are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. They are full time employees of the Park System. Vicky Trimble is in charge as park superintendent, Lauren McKnight runs the Visitor Center, and Rachael Lewis is the “can do” person that makes the Center run smoothly. The Center has a gift shop and a limited amount of groceries. It contains the unofficial state record large mouth bass that weighed 16.5 pounds. It was caught by a fisherman in Lake Dunn that did not have a fishing license.

The park has 7000 acres with Lake Dunn and Lake Austell that is the 2nd largest state owned lake. Both lakes offer free launches and fishing, along with swimming beaches. The swimming areas are roped off, but there are no life guards. Lake Dunn has a marina where both fishing boats and paddle boats can be rented along with bait that can be purchased. The boats are furnished with trolling motors and life vests. Only electric trolling motors are permitted. The boats can be rented from $20 to $25 per day. You can bring your own boat, but only trolling motors are allowed. Lake Austell has a slot limit for bass, but state fishing limits for the other fish. Lake Dunn also has state limits.

96 camp sites are available with costs from $22 to $35, depending on how many amenities you require. There is an equestrian camp ground for those who bring their horses to ride the 35 mile trail. There is no horse rental, bring your own. The trails that include part of the Trail of Tears can be walked, biked, or horse backed. 10 cabins complete with TV, air conditioning and kitchens can be rented from $100 to $140 per night depending on the size and number of people. Make sure you reserve the cabin ahead of time, especially Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.

Village Creek has a Theater Room where videos of the park and educational programs for both adults and kids are held. After watching the Trail of Tears, folks can go walk that same trail. The museum named the Discovery Room contains artifacts from the area that Native Americans made and used.

Summer time is popular, but there are several events throughout the year. May 1st is Pickin in the Park, a music festival featuring gospel and blue grass. The 3rd weekend in October is Saddle Up for St. Jude. Bring your horse and ride and then meet back for fried pies. Last year about 125 riders enjoyed the dinner and auction for St. Jude that raised more than $11,000.00.

Village Creek State Park is truly the best kept secret around here. It is not crowded and the folks are very friendly. You can enjoy all the great fun that Mother Nature offers without a great cost or distance from home. Most of the park is free. The Park has a full security crew composed of three commissioned law enforcement officers. Know the difference between a park and a forest? Hunting is allowed in forests, but not in parks. So leave your hunting equipment at home.

For more information about Village Creek State Park, call 870-238-9406. It is located at 201 CR 754, Wynne, AR 72396 or em a i l m The fishing should get better so take that boy or girl with you. Send me some pictures and stories. I enjoy hearing about the trip or if you have an upcoming event, let me know. Fishing is good at Village Creek and remember, if you catch that state record fish, Lakeside Taxidermy does a beautiful fish mount.

Papa Duck Lakeside Taxidermy 870-732-0455 or 901-4823430

By John Criner