Steep and rugged Devil's Eyebrow is a new facility
By Ronnie Weston| June 19, 2013 at 9:08 PM CDT - Updated July 12 at 6:00 AM
GATEWAY – Devil's Eyebrow. That name alone draws instant interest in Arkansas's newest natural area and wildlife management area.
Devil's Eyebrow is a facility of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. It was formally dedicated a month ago, and somewhat fittingly, the dedication was on the day of the state's first May snowfall.
In Benton County on the north side of Beaver Lake, Devil's Eyebrow covers 1,954 acres and is open to the public. But you will have to walk.
A parking area is reached off U.S. Highway 62 about a half-mile east of Gateway and the intersection with Arkansas Highway 37. A gravel road turns south of the highway and leads to the parking area. From there on, visitors must walk. No cars or trucks, no all-terrain vehicles, no horses and mules can be used by anyone.
Not far south of the parking area, the terrain slopes down steeply and eventually runs to the Indian Creek arm of Beaver Lake. The area has a number of old logging roads that visitors can walk. Features of Devil's Eyebrow include small creeks, rocky bluffs, waterfalls, a host of unusual and interesting plants and a variety of wildlife. Trimble Mountain, elevation 1,720 feet, is the highest point on Devil's Eyebrow.
The unusual name of the area stems from a 19th century comment by a local resident, according to a history of Benton County.
"In 1880, when the surveyors were doing their preliminary work on the location of the Frisco Railroad, Archibald 'Uncle Arch' Blansett (one of the pioneer settlers in the area) with other neighbors were greatly interested in the proposed route through their neighborhood. Discussing the route with one of the railroad party, he is credited with saying: 'Build a railroad right through these mountains? You can't do it, man; you can't do it. You might as well try to build a railroad on the Devil's eyebrow as to undertake to build one in such a place.'
"The railroaders were so amused by the remark that from then on it was always known, even in Frisco literature, as the 'Devil's Eyebrow'. The name still sticks."
As an AGFC wildlife management area, Devil's Eyebrow will be linked with Beaver Lake WMA. Deer and bear hunters are restricted to shotguns or muzzle-loading rifles during the 2013-2014 season. Devil's Eyebrow may be limited to archery hunting only for deer in the future.
Mark Hutchings, urban wildlife biologist for northwest Arkansas said, "There are deer and turkey on Devil's Eyebrow, and we've been told an occasional bear is seen here." Squirrel numbers also appear good.
Botanists are interested in Devil's Eyebrow because it is the only place in Arkansas where the rare black maple tree is found. It is also a popular roosting area in winter for bald eagles.
Devil's Eyebrow was obtained by the two state agencies through a route that has been successful a number of times in recent decades.
When owners of the land, who had bought it before the downturn in residential development a few decades back, indicated a willingness to sell, The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas stepped forward and bought it until Natural Heritage and Game and Fish could arrange funds for the purchase.