Way up in northeast Benton County, between Beaver Lake and the Missouri border, stand a few thousand acres of rugged forest, exposed rock and spring-fed streams called the Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area. It’s only an hour’s drive away, but I’d barely even heard of it before last week.
That changed while I worked on a story in today’s paper about how northwest Arkansas’ plan to preserve open and natural areas as it grows is showing results. As the last piece of that article, I needed some photos, which meant a couple hours of hiking and exploring a new, beautiful place. I mean, I’ll do it if I really have to, I guess.
My generous companions were Jennifer and Isaac Ogle, who introduced me to the wonderful experience of hiking with people who can spot, name and enthusiastically describe almost every plant, animal and rock I’d want to photograph and learn about. Jennifer Ogle works as a land management specialist with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, one of a long list of groups that have helped manage or expand Devil’s Eyebrow and other lands around the state. She told me the area’s name comes from an old prediction that it would be easier to run a railroad on the devil’s own eyebrow than through these hills. I think the name kind of fits with the arching bluffs, too.
One more thing about it — I was a little worried the woods would be bone-dry after weeks of temperatures in the 90s and no rain, but fortunately at least two springs ran cool and clear and quick, supporting crawdads, fish and at least one small water snake.
Thank you, Ogles, and thank you, Devil’s Eyebrow. I’ll have to go back sometime.