MAYFLOWER (AGFC) – A handy and no-cost prescription for relaxing, for letting
tensions, worries and headaches fade away, is to visit the Kenny Vernon
Nature Trail at Bell slough Wildlife Management Area.
It begins nearly in the shadow of busy Interstate 40, yet a few strides
along the easy path, the noise fades. Nature takes the front seat, and
the day brightens and spirits lift as you step into comforting shade.
The hum of busy traffic on Interstate 40 is in the background, but a
few strides along the Bell Slough Nature Trail and a visitor quickly
forgets the highway, the hustle, the pressure of daily life. The noise
Nature is close at hand on the Bell Slough trail. Look carefully,
listen closely and you'll likely add to your list of bird species seen
and heard. Keep an eye out for deer slipping away through the trees.
The trail covers 2 1/4 miles, with some shorter loops as options. It is
on the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area south and east of Mayflower
in southern Faulkner County. To reach the Bell Slough trail, exit
Interstate 40 at Mayflower and turn east on Arkansas Highway 89. then
turn south (or right) at the commuter parking lot. This is the new link
to Grassy Lake Road. A mile or so south, and the trail starts at the
shale parking lot.
Facilities include restrooms at the start of the trail, boardwalks over
low spots, viewing platforms, terraces, arbors and photo blinds. There
are three connecting trails, each ranging in length from about a
half-mile to 2 1/4 miles. A brochure and interpretative panels assist
Bell Slough is unique in Central Arkansas, with a variety of habitats,
including bottomland hardwoods, bald cypress, upland hardwoods, prairies
and pine forests. It also has a manipulated habitat in the form of a
moist soil unit managed for wintering waterfowl and migrating
Kirsten Bartlow, who coordinates the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Watchable Wildlife program, said the area was a special one. "The neat
thing about Bell Slough is there are so many ecosystems in it," she
said. "There are 117 species of birds known to the area and adjacent to
the waterfowl rest area."
The trail offers unique viewing of wildlife, with users likely to see
squirrel, deer, ducks and waterfowl in winter and a great variety of
breeding birds during the summer, including dickcissels, indigo
buntings, Kentucky warblers and prothonotary warblers (known in the area
as wild canaries), bright yellow birds that are the only cavity-nesting
"It's a wonderful place," Bartlow said. "I love it. Bell Slough is
actually very important to migratory birds in terms of breeding,
stopover, and wintering habitat. It's very scenic, and it is an
opportunity for education. We love to see school groups out there. It's a
real unique place."