Solid Rock Riders / Welcome! San Antonio, Texas USA  
  Skip to main content

On Tour: One of the Longest Cycling / Hiking Bridges in the World

18 Oct 2014

By Rob Tillman, author of Vapors Rising

Big Dam Bridge above Murray Lock and Dam
Big Dam Bridge ramp
Presidential Bridge at Clinton Presidential Library

LITTLE ROCK—The "Big Dam Bridge" is one of the longest bridges in the World dedicated for cycling/hiking that crosses the Arkansas River and connects Little Rock and North Little Rock. Situated at the Murray Lock and Dam site, the bridge is 90 feet (27 m) over the river and 30 feet (9.1 m) over the dam. The entire length of the bridge is 3,463 feet (1055 m). The $12.8 million project was completed in Sept. 2006.

Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines once said, "We are going to build that dam bridge," hence, the name Big Dam Bridge was coined.

For cyclists, the question is "What's the grade percentage?" It is 5% climb for length of 1500 feet (457 m) on each ramp.

In the evening, the bridge is lit up with 16 million colors of LED lighting. According to Pulaski County data, approximately 100,000 people crossed the Big Dam Bridge in 2011. The structure was named by the American Travel Writers as one of the top 10 bridges in the United States.

The bridge is part of the 17-mile (27-km) Arkansas River Trail that runs on both sides of the river. It connects the trailhead of Murray Park, located west of the dam, to the trailhead of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, located east of downtown Little Rock. A converted Rock Island Railroad bridge, built in 1899, connects the North Little Rock side to the Little Rock side at the Presidential Library trailhead. Even though cyclists have a choice of riding either side of the river, it has been reported that most cyclists prefer the North Little Rock side because the trail is not shared with existing motorized vehicle roads as much as it is on the Little Rock side. It also brings riders closer to the banks of the river.

Another bridge called Junction Bridge connects the two cities between their respective business districts and the 18,000-seat Verizon Arena located on the North Little Rock side. Located next to this bridge is the la Petite Roche, French for "The Little Rock" named in 1721 by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe.

There are plans to expand the Arkansas River Trail out to Pinnacle Mountain, a twin-peak mountain that rises 1,011 feet (308 m) above sea level, 750 feet (230 m) over the Arkansas River. The trail has been a favorite of YouTube enthusiasts including one who used a drone to capture the trail below with the river and mountains in the backdrop.

Little Rock, a state capital, is located in the central part of the state of Arkansas. Its Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) population is approximately 735,000, based on 2013 U. S. Census estimates.

In our next report, Solid Rock Riders will report on the Mississippi River Trail in New Orleans, a city that is ranked 22 out of 50 best bike cities in the US by Bicycling magazine. (San Antonio is ranked 48th; it made the list because of its Mission Reach Riverwalk.)

More Articles | Go to Archives Page

A visit at the fairly new Dan Markson Park
How light rail transit and greenway trails may compliment each other
It won't be until 2025 for the north-south Salado connector
Tour de France: a big day for Denmark
Comal Springs, another stop for the Great Springs Project
Imagine what it's like to attend Tour de France
Dedicated bike trails: can it really work in San Antonio?
Update: Beitel Creek Greenway to run from Thousand Oaks to LBJ
New trails opened near Lackland
Last stop for the Great Springs trail: the Blue Hole in SA
Distance Calculator adds Northwest Arkansas
Great Springs Project announces trail to run from Austin to San Antonio
Part 3 of Historic Tours: Mission Reach
Meet the Greenway Trails Bicycle Riders - a Meetup Group
Part 2 of Historic Tours: Salado Creek Greenway South offers its own historic venues
Part 1 of Historic Tours: Salado Creek Greenway North has historic venues worth noting
Home | Accessibility | Contact Us | Safety | Map Room | Legal