Arkansas is nicknamed "The Natural State" and that holds true at Logoly State Park. The park itself and the newly remodeled visitor center are full of hands on, nature based, learning experiences for all ages.
Several years ago, when we first moved to Arkansas, we were eager to get out and explore all that the state had to offer. Our first outing to Logoly State Park was just before the construction was finished on the new visitor center. The updated visitor center opened in 2016 and showcases several interactive exhibits. The park itself is tucked away just northeast of Magnolia, Arkansas in the small town of McNeil, Arkansas. Boasting nearly 400 acres of unique flora and fauna, Logoly is also home to old growth forests and a mineral spring with a rather interesting history. Logoly State Park is Arkansas’ first environmental education state park and as such offers a wide variety of environmental education both within a class room setting as well as in the field.
Our Wild + Free homeschool group was treated to a learning hike led by the extremely knowledgeable (and patient) Devin Moon, of Arkansas State Parks.
Logoly State Park has several hiking trails and for our hike, Devin took us around the pond via Crane’s Fly trail to the viewing boardwalk. The boardwalk is an excellent place to catch some views of birds or other wildlife. We were lucky to see a grasshopper along the way, several turtles, and a rather beautiful moment when a moth landed on my friend’s daughter’s finger. After pausing to learn about some of the winter foraging habits of birds, we hiked onward and around the trail on Magnesia Springs trail toward the mineral springs. While they are not hot springs, the mineral springs at the park have a distinct odor and slight algae growth around them. However, the pools from where the springs bubble up contain water that is remarkably clear.
Perhaps the favorite part of our adventure was being able to explore off trail with expert guidance. I learned so much that I did not know, both about some local flora but also about the interesting history of the park and how it came to be. We traced the path of the springs as it ran along the hillside, winding back and forth among the tall old growth trees. Snakes are a prominent threat in this region of Arkansas, so a constant awareness of your surroundings is of utmost importance. All of the kids in our crew were so excited to race each other up the huge hill at the finale, though some ran out of steam about half way up. The hike was thoroughly enjoyable as we all learned some history, and specifics about the plants unique to Logoly.
After our hike we all retreated for the picnic tables to refresh with our packed lunches. There are several picnic areas at Logoly and we opted for the ones that were right next to the playground. Immediately after eating the kids ran around the playground, seemingly completely refueled from the race up the hill. Next on our agenda was to head inside for a bit of classroom learning led by Devin Moon. The new visitor center also has a large classroom, complete with an overhead projector and a delightful mural. I had the thrill of a lifetime as I was able to hold the rat snake while Devin gave us a presentation about reptiles found in the area. The rat snake was quite used to being held and very friendly. It was an odd sensation to feel it move between my hands, and I only lost my calm momentarily when Mr. Snake decided to slide up my arm and toward my face. Up next: a delightful game of “name that fur,” that the kids had rapid fire correct answers for. (so homeschooled). I am so grateful to Devin for providing such an exciting learning experience for our group. The designation as the first environmental education park has only made the park better. The State Parks of Arkansas are certainly a treasure and will always be one of my favorite places to visit. Our adventure at Logoly was a fantastic one and I am so looking forward to returning to continue the learning and exploring.