Russellville, Arkansas has everything a small town needs, from a regional airport, a growing downtown area, an award-winning university, and almost two hundred years of history. Add onto that the beautiful parks and hiking trails, and you've got it made down in "The Russ"!
The city has about a dozen parks. Unfortunately, there is no off-leash dog park in the town or immediate area, but the existing parks welcome on-leash dogs. The Confederate Mother's Memorial Park overlooks the flowing Arkansas River, and is consistently named as one of the most beautiful parks in the area. It is quite rural, wooded, and full of trails to explore! Crawford Park is another local favorite, as it has a wide open field area, is completely fenced in, and has a shaded gazebo for hot days.
Several state parks are in the area, including Mount Nebo State Park, which has 1,000 feet of elevation and multiple trails to hike. The Lake Dardanelle State Park is absolutely massive, covering 34,300 acres of land and offering access to trails, modern amenities, and camping. The local Bona Dea Trails are certainly worth a visit, no matter how long of a hike you want to take - the park offers trails from 0.5 miles to 6 miles.
On the south side of Russellville, Arkansas, Lake Dardanelle State Park stands as a great day trip spot. Over 34,000 acres are encompassed in this reservoir on the Arkansas River. A hiking trail runs through the shady trees, while bass fisherman come from all over the country to compete at some of the region’s best bass tournaments. A huge bass tournament weigh-in center was built to accommodate the tournaments and large crowds that flock to see humans pull fish out of the water and into the air. If you’re looking for a great camping spot close to town, this is your place. With about 100 camping sites split into two areas, there’s plenty of room for the whole family, dogs included! Overlooking the reservoir is a large visitor center with touch screen learning areas and interpretive programs. Kids will love the aquatic exhibits that feature many of the fish native to the area. Dogs must be on-leash at all times.
Directly north of Russellville in a piece of land known as Shiloh Park, basketball, baseball, kayaking, canoeing live together in harmony. This is an outdoor sports lover’s paradise! Park goers can choose to play sports, relax, grill out, hop on the water for a paddle or boating ride. There are two boat ramps, 2 lighted softball fields, 2 tennis courts, 3 open play fields, 7 picnic tables, a basketball court, sand volleyball, and a huge lighted pavilion. The park sits on Lake Dardanelle, which offers some of the best bass fishing in the country. Another great benefit of this park is its proximity to Arkansas Tech University. Dogs earning their Animal Science Degrees will love being able to burn some energy in between their Feline Anatomy and Cooking With Cats courses.
Bona Dea Trails and Sanctuary is not what it sounds like. There are not delicious bones buried in the ground with the ghosts of doggos past haunting their hiding spots. Sorry to disappoint. This park is actually a pleasant, ghost-free zone on the Illinois Bayou that’s open to the public (AKA the living). Extremely popular with outdoorsy types and quasi-run-walk-jog-yoggers, humans and dogs of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels have a high likelihood of enjoy this 3.4 mile trail. But you don’t have to be into exercising to have a good time at Bona Dea. Wildlife enthusiasts are welcomed! This wide and spacious trail snakes around the lake, under mossy oaks and over wooden bridges. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for woodpeckers and angry trolls! Pet parents are encouraged (obligated) to pick up pet waste and carry it out to waste receptacles, where it belongs. Another note - be warned, alligators are commonly seen in the park. Be sure to keep those pups on leashes and out of dinosaur mouths (and bellies).
Located a few miles south of Russellville, the Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge is known as one of the most fun places to visit in Arkansas. This may be because it’s customary to shout “Holla!” as you enter the refuge. Even the animals do it. Or, it could be because this is a 5-star outdoor playground for all boys and girls, both two-legged or four-legged. In the winter, the 6,486 acre refuge is a favorite of warm-blooded waterfowl. With over 100,000 feathered friends coming to the consensus that Holla Bend is the place to be when it’s cold, you know it’s got to be a hot spot! There is hiking, biking, and wildlife-watching galore. On one side of the refuge is the Arkansas River. On the other side, there’s an oxbow lake, formed in the 50’s when a bunch of government officials tried to make the Arkansas River flow straight. Rivers, unlike dogs, cannot be trained. Who’d-a-thought?
What’s the best kind of picnicking? Pet-friendly picnicking! That’s right. Just across the Arkansas River from Russellville, the Riverview Recreation Area is the perfect stay-cation for locals. With over 18 campsites and 14 different picnic sites to choose from, dogs will have a field day with 32 opportunities to mark their territory. Lamp posts, table legs, tree stumps, boulders, etc… they’re all fair game. From the park, you can see a large dam spanning the river north of the park to make electricity and lots of noise. There’s a sandy beach area that’s great for fishing and building castles. While the kids and pets play, mom and dad will slay (the bass).