If you’re looking for me today, you’re gonna have to head for water. Big Piney Creek to be exact. I’ll be the guy in the back of the red canoe with the beautiful woman perched in the front, soaking up the sun on Memorial Day Weekend, participating in one of my absolute favorite Arkansas outdoor activities — floatin’.
We won’t be the only people on the creek. No way. If I had to guess, the Piney, the Buffalo, and the Mulberry River will all be jam-packed this weekend. When it comes to floatin’, Arkansas offers numerous options.
I have so many great memories tied to these different rivers. Just last week I ventured to Gilbert, Arkansas, to meet up with a sampling of Cranor men. For the last four years, we’ve taken this “guys’ trip” to the Buffalo. It’s a blast. If you’ve never been to Gilbert, I’d highly recommend it.
The town itself isn’t much more than a single road leading down to the water. The Gilbert General Store offers every possible nick-knack you could need for the river: wide-brimmed hats, wearable koozies, ice bags, sunglasses, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
With its limestone bluffs and turquoise water, you’d be hard pressed to find a prettier river than the Buffalo anywhere else in the country. But if you’re looking to go floatin’ this weekend, and don’t want to make the two-hour drive north, there’s so much water, so close to home.
Take the Mulberry for example. When Mal and I lived in Clarksville, we’d often take day trips up to this beautiful little river. We’d eat fist-sized sandwiches at Turner Bend, and let our Australian Shepherd, Layla, run wild through the current. You’ve never seen a dog that likes to swim like our little fur ball.
And Layla will be joining us today, as we venture out to Big Piney Creek. The Piney is undoubtedly where I spent the most time growing up. We camped there, fished there, and of course, went floatin’. The Piney is home to one of the nastiest white-water runs in all of Arkansas — “Big Mother” — an undercut boulder with a series of smaller, slightly submerged rocks, just waiting to snag your canoe.
I can remember pulling off on the side and watching college kids try their luck with Big Mother. She was not forgiving. I’ve witnessed many a watercraft wrapped around those snarling rocks.
This weekend, though, we won’t be trying our fate with Big Mother. Instead, we’ll be taking the much more laid back trip from Long Pool Campground down to Twin Bridges. If you’ve never been to Long Pool, it’s a great day trip. There’s a huge rock out in the middle of the swimming area that’s great for jumping, or even just sunbathing.
Arkansas isn’t called the “Natural State” for nothing. With all of this water so close to home, grab a cooler and a few good friends, and get to floatin’ on Memorial Day Weekend.
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