Searcy, Ark. – Searcy rests in the middle of the Natural State, and it has a beauty that should be enjoyed 12 months out of the year. Sitting in the crossroads of where the River Valley and Delta meet the Arkansas Plateau, this small town is the perfect destination for guests and residents who want to leave behind their cityscapes and escape to the water and woods. With world-class fishing, a clean and developed park system, climbing options nearby, and limitless trails for hiking and mountain bikes, this is the place to start your outdoor adventure.
When many think of trout fishing, their minds might go to Field & Stream articles about rivers and creeks in colder climates up north. However, according to Jeff Smith, the creator of the “Trout Magnet” and owner of Leland Lures, Searcy and the Little Red River is home to some of the “best trout fishing in the world.” In 1992 Rip Collins caught in this river a 40 lb. 4 oz. brown trout which held the world record till 2013!
Photo by: Abigail Wornock. Jeff Smith and Trout Magnet
The Little Red River flows from the JFK Dam and the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery and through Searcy. The primary trout fishing stretch is about 29 miles between Greers Ferry and Pangburn. Just 15 miles up Highway 16 from Searcy you’ll find boat landings and wading spots for the perfect day on the river. You can enjoy the cool waters of the Little Red 365 days a year, and the trout are always biting.
Smith also provides guided trout fishing trips on the Little Red River. Check out sorelipemall.com to book your guided trout experience. You won’t regret it!
Photo by: Abigail Wornock. The Little Red River.
In addition to trout fishing in the Little Red River, Searcy is surrounded by lakes and ponds. The Searcy City Lake is a public lake just east of Highway 67 and off of Truman Baker Drive. Bald Knob Lake is 217-acre reservoir about 10 miles north of Searcy and on the west side of Bald Knob. The beautiful Lake Barnett (also called Bayou des Arc) located near Romance, curves around thick woods, bluffs, and country houses along the lake’s shores. It’s my favorite place to disconnect from the city, to boat, fish, and imbibe the sounds and surroundings of raw Arkansas.
Before you cast your line, though, make sure you visit agfc.com to purchase your license and learn about the daily limits.
Our family has been living in Searcy for over 15 years, and we’ve always treasured the city parks. When our children were young and needed some fresh air, we knew they would have fun at one of the four parks of Searcy Parks and Recreation. Berry Hill Park (501 Davis Drive) was our favorite with over 7 acres of space in the middle of town to romp around, climb the slide and playset (including ADA accessible equipment), pick up a game of football or softball, play tennis, and walk the perimeter of the park on the paved trail. We’ve even attended many birthday parties, church fellowships, and family events in the comfort of the covered pavilion in the park.
Photo by: Abigail Wornock. Spring Park in Searcy, Arkansas.
We have enjoyed all four parks over the years. Whether it was Yancy Park (950 Skyline Drive) as the closest park to our west Searcy home, Spring Park (113 E Pleasure Ave) because of downtown events, such as Get Down Downtown, or Riverside Park’s (301 Riverside Park Road) 100 acres of nature and views over the bluff, we have found each park to be a wonderful place for physical activity, fresh air, and community engagement.
In fact, Searcy Parks and Recreation offers much more than the four parks. Under the leadership of director Mike Parsons, Searcy P&R manages these four parks, the Searcy Swim Center, the Searcy Sports Complex, the Dog Park, the Carmichael Community Center, the Searcy Bike Trail, the Searcy Event Center, the Rialto Movie Theater, and the newly renovated Citizen’s Park in downtown that has already given center stage to concerts and performing arts.
Photo by Abigail Wornock. Berryhill Park in Searcy, Arkansas.
According to Parsons, the Searcy P&R system desires to offer a good “quality of life to citizens and surrounding residents” of Searcy. All centers are “free or reasonably priced for the city and anyone who wants to visit,” says Parsons. If you’re in the area and looking for something to do, check out one of Searcy’s parks and have lots of fun!
Opportunities abound for climbers in Arkansas, and Searcy provides the perfect place to learn more and get started.
While climbing in Arkansas is on lower elevations, the quality is high. Just an hour north from Searcy near Batesville you can explore Jamestown Crag. You’ll find here plenty of hiking and camping options and over 80 climbing routes. Check out their Facebook page for directions and upcoming climbing events.
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas, with over 100 routes at all levels, is another well-known favorite for climbers in this state. It’s a little further from Searcy (140 miles), but this well-developed family dude ranch includes cabins, outdoor swimming, trail riding, hiking, and excellent climbing. Teams and organizations may also schedule team-building exercises at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
Climbing is a fun sport for adventure seekers of all ages and levels. According to Sean Hudkins, “It’s about getting outside. It’s about pushing your limits. There’s a beauty in creation that God put out there in the middle of Arkansas.”
Photo by Abigail Wornock.
When you experience raw nature, though, you must consider safety, which is why it’s important to be with people who know how to climb. Hudkins advises, “Any time you do something tall you want to make sure it’s kept up with and that you have training.”
Searcy offers miles of hiking and biking trails in town and within a 20 mile radius. Bill Milton, owner of local outfitter Beyond Boundaries, encourages residents and guests of Searcy to find their trail and experience the outdoors. Milton says, “Our whole mantra is to live a ‘beyond boundaries’ life—to take on challenges and do new things.”
Photo by Abigail Wornock. Beyond Boundaries offers outdoor gear in Downtown Searcy.
When you enter the store (located on 115 E. Center Ave., Searcy), you can’t miss their mission to transform lives through the combination of inspiring messages on apparel and product lines that fund non-profit organizations. Beyond Boundaries lives up to its name in every sense.
Milton recommends several trails in the Searcy area. One of the closest nature trails is at Riverside Park. Cut by Bill Ford, owner of Wild Sweet Williams, this trail meanders down the side of a ridge that leads from the park to the Searcy Landing access to the Little Red River. The trail is about a mile long one way. It’s an all-purpose trail for walking, running, and cycling. On your way back to the trailhead, don’t miss the overlook that gives one of the best views of the Little Red River Valley.
Photo by Abigail Wornock. Overlook sight at Riverside Park.
Just 23 miles north of Searcy is the Big Creek Natural Area managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. You can hike two trails at Big Creek. The shorter of the two is the Creek Trail that is a 0.75-mile round trip hike down to Big Creek and back. The Overlook Trail is a 1.75 miles roundtrip and gives you a view from a high bluff of the Big Creek rapids.
Lercher 15 Bike Trail at B.J. Ranch is a privately owned trail that welcomes guests for $10 a visit. This 17-mile trail series is perfect for mountain bikes, walking, and jogging. There are restroom facilities, showers, and even a bike washing station. The address to Lercher Bike Trail is 544 Shiloh Rd., McRae, Arkansas, just a little less than 15 miles southwest of Searcy. Make sure to consult the website or Facebook page for specific directions and dropbox payment instructions. According to Milton, the Lercher trails are a “real jewel for people in Searcy.”
Within the city limits, the Searcy Parks and Recreation Department manages the paved walking paths at the city parks. In addition, there are nearly 5 miles of bike trails through town, which include paths through wooded areas and also along Gin Creek.
Photo by Abigail Wornock. Bike trail in Searcy.
Come to Searcy, Arkansas, and hear the outdoors call your name! Leave the stress and challenges of the city at the office and get outside. Searcy gives you plenty of options to breathe the fresh air and explore this part of the Natural State.