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  • Writer's pictureStacy Tierney

More Than We Expected- Park#4 Lake Chicot State Park

Visited January 17, 2021

Hi ya'll! Welcome to Park #4, Lake Chicot State Park. Anyone notice our obligatory sign picture isn't a poorly framed selfie? Well.... Steven upgraded us to a nice little tripod for the phone. He decided we better try to give this our best effort. So, I guess you are very special to us!

On this Sunday morning, we headed down the Delta Rhythm & Bayou Highway to Lake Chicot outside of Lake Village, Arkansas. Our plan for the day was to hit up the park's Visitor Center and then 2 other stops on the way home. We have been asked how we are planning out our trips. 52 Arkansas State Parks, so that is 52 weeks with 1 park a week right? It is taking a little more planning than that as I know that some weekends we will be unavailable. So at this time, I am trying to to bunch together multiple stops in one trip if possible. We have plans for some overnights, one coming up in a couple weeks that I am super pumped to experience.

But back to Lake Chicot. My first thought pulling into the parking lot was how cute the Visitors Center was and bigger than we expected. The fun started right away with information plaques greeting us right in the parking lot,

Did you know Lake Chicot is a part of the "Great River Road," which follows the Mississippi River all the way along its journey? At 22 miles long, Lake Chicot is also the largest oxbow, "U" shape, lake in North America. It is thought that the Chicot area was named after the French word meaning "stumpy" to reference all of the Cyprus trees along the water ways.

The Visitor Center mainly focused on the Mississippi River and its role throughout history. We read this interesting story about when the steamboat, New Orleans, made is first trip down the Mississippi some Native Americans thought it could have caused the New Madrid earthquake. During the Civil War, the banks of the river gave settlement areas for troops of soldiers and also shaped the fighting. The soldiers could use the river to their advantage by hiding in the bows and bends to create a surprise attack and fire upon passing boats.

The center also offered a look at animals that might be spotted in the area. If you know me, you know I am slightly obsessed with animals, so I spent extra time looking at those exhibits. I also "wowed" myself with my fur knowledge and was able to ace a little game they had where you matched animal pelts to their rightful owners. I was pretty proud of my knowledge.

If I heard it once, I heard it a million times, Steven wished he had brought his binoculars because Lake Chicot is a birding paradise as it is a flyway for migrating fowl. We did get to see many different birds in the second part of our day at Lake Chicot on our levee tour. Exiting the Visitor Center, Steven located a pamphlet about a self guided levee tour, so we thought, "why not?!?!" The tour was 30 miles around the surrounding area of Lake Chicot and hit some highlights of the area's history. We passed through Luna, reference below picture because that is all of Luna, and Columbia, which used to be the county seat until a flood in the 1800s wiped it clean out. Towards the end of the tour, the route led through the area of the Mississippi River where the troops used the bend of land to perform their surprise attacks. The tour was a nice accompaniment to the history learned at the Visitor Center, bringing the history to life.

"Just sit right back, And you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip." For real ya'll!! It was a 30 mile levee tour that we expected to take not much longer than 45 min and it was much, much longer than that. We are not sure if the pamphlet was old and maybe some things have changed on some of these roads, but we had to turn around several times and we are wishy-washy on if we did the whole 30 miles correctly. But we did see many fun things and made lots of stops to observe the birds, cause you know Steven wished he had his binoculars (LOL). We stalked this little guy below for quite a bit as he hunted for food. He had some success and we were rooting him along from the sidelines!

My favorite part of the drive came after several turn arounds and not being real clear if we were on the right path. So, I am not sure if I enjoyed this part of the tour because it was a noteworthy part from the pamphlet and let us know we were heading in the right direction, but I loved the Hyner cemetery, which was situated off the road a bit. This cemetery was established in 1898 and marks the site of Italian immigrants who settled in the area and worked on the plantations until many were killed during the Malaria Epidemic. The cemetery was simple and unornate. However, to me it was a beautiful preservation of the land's history.

We finally found our way around the tour and back to where we were supposed to be. I was a bit relieved as I know this is the start of many horror stories, city slickers lost in the country!! Seriously though, we really did enjoy this little unplanned side trip to the day. The sun was shining, the animals were happy and the roads welcomed our adventure!

If you would like to see extra tid bits about our trips, make sure to follow us on Instagram, @stacyandstevendoar. Park #5 blog will feature our little stop at the quaint Arkansas Post Museum.


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