by Flip Putthoff
Hikers may want to shout a woo-pig-sooie while walking a new trail in the region.
The 1.5-mile loop of the Markham Hill Nature Trails opened Oct. 10 less than a mile west of Razorback Stadium. Two other loops of the trail network were established years ago when a summer camp located on the property.
Specialized Real Estate Group in Fayetteville purchased 144 acres in the Markham Hill area in 2017, said Sarah King, communications manager with the company. The tract includes the Pratt Place Inn and barn, plus about 50 acres set aside in a conservation easement that contains the new trail.
Markham Hill Nature Trails are on private land, but the public is welcome to hike or mountain bike the new 1.5-mile Markham Hill Loop. The two older trails, Oak Loop and Pine Loop, are for feet only. Hikers, walkers and runners are welcome.
Don’t be surprised to be passed by some speedy Razorback athletes. Razorback track and cross country athletes and other student runners train regularly on the paths, King said during a hike on the trail in mid-October.
Tall hardwoods, boulders and the crags of small bluffs give the trail a wilderness feel close to the university and downtown Fayetteville. The company hired Rogue Trails to construct the new 1.5 mile loop at a cost they wouldn’t disclose.
“There’s enough up and down to make it interesting,” King said while enjoying the hike with her dog, Buttercup. “It’s not steep. Anyone can hike it.”
There are no tall bluffs that might pose a hazard to children. Large logs and rock benches offer spots for resting and contemplation of the forest so close to town.
From the trailhead near the Pratt Place Inn, the path heads off to the left, curving left and right through the woods on gentle rises and falls. One might expect to hear the din of traffic so close to campus, but there was none on the first leg of the trail. Vehicles on Interstate 49 are heard near the trail’s end. The forest absorbs much of the traffic hum.
“The biggest trees are definitely on the north side of the trail,” King pointed out. Timber is noticeably smaller, and so are rock features, near the finish of the loop.
King said Specialized Real Estate Group plans to build 19 homes close to the trail over 10 years.
There is opposition to the development. The “Save Markham Hill” petition drive aims to prevent development of the property and make it a nature and wildlife preserve.
“We, the undersigned, respectfully request the City of Fayetteville to: 1. oppose development on the 144-acre Markham Hill property. 2. Help secure and protect the 144-acre Markham Hill property as a nature and wildlife preserve,” says the online petition information.
The information says the petition has 10,356 signatures as of Nov. 3. A goal is 15,000 signatures.
To mark the opening of the trail, Specialized Real Estate Group is offering a free bandana, emblazoned with a map of the Markham Hill Nature Trails, to hikers who post a photo from the trail on social media.
If trail users tag photos with @specializedreg on Instagram or Facebook, the company will mail them a bandana, King said.
The trail is on private property, so visitors are asked to register before their arrival at markhamhill.com, she added. There’s also a trail map there, as well as one located at the trailhead.
Lots of hikers, including King, enjoy a jaunt with their dogs. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
To reach the trail, follow Razorback Road south of Razorback Stadium to West Markham Road. Turn west and go 0.7 miles to the trail-head parking area next to Pratt Place Inn. The street address is 2231 W. Markham Road, Fayetteville.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org