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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Little Rock Calls It What It Is: The River's Big Dam Bridge!

Updated: Apr 11

It sounds like a joke but Little Rock, Ark., literally built a "big dam bridge."

little rock big dam bridge

The Murray Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River is a massive structure used for hydroelectric power. In 2006, a bridge was built to span 4,226 feet over the river at an elevation of up to 90 feet above the dam. The Big Dam Bridge, as it's called, now connects Murray Park of Little Rock with Cooks Landing Park in North Little Rock, its neighbor on the other side of the river.

little rock big dam bridge

Hikers and bikers only, however. No cars allowed. The bridge joins the 14 miles of riverside trails and helps connect about 70,000 acres of various city, county, state and federal park land.

 

It’s the longest pedestrian and biking bridge in North America built for that purpose.

 

“It’s called Big Dam Bridge because it’s big, it’s a dam and it’s a bridge,” said Jeff Chastain, director of communications for the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is not just a fun name. We spent a lot of time thinking about this.”

 

When the bridge was being planned, concerns about the costs were aired. Pulaski County Judge F.G. “Buddy” Villines was said to have responded, “We’re going to build that dam bridge.” You be the judge (pun intended) over how that word should be spelled.

 

Little Rock is known as a biker’s town. It’s easy to ride from the Big Dam Bridge all the way to the Clinton Presidential Library and downtown restaurants and attractions. The trail continues on to Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Chastain said.


"Though not a car-free path for parts of that, there are roads designated as the ART which do take you all the way to the park," Chastain explained.

 

Love to compete? The 2024 Big Dam Bridge 100, Arkansas’ largest cycling tour, rolls Sept. 28, 2024. Registration is now open online.


little rock big dam bridge

Things to Know

It’s an easy walk across the bridge, a little over a mile roundtrip. Naturally, there is elevation scaling the bridge and it’s downhill coming back.

 

The trail is accessible for those in wheelchairs, strollers, etc.

 

If you’re on foot, stay to the right to let bicyclists go by.

 

Free parking is available at the base of the bridge.

 

The views of the Arkansas River are stunning from the top of the bridge and there are observation areas with benches. Look for waterfowl and other birds. On the day we visited, there was a flock of white pelicans enjoying food at the rushing waters of the dam (see those tiny white dots at the photo bottom left).


little rock big dam bridge
Dam, what a view!
little rock big dam bridge
View from the top.





Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by travel writer Cheré Dastugue Coen, who found scaling the Big Dam Bridge a delight. She was especially excited to see so many white pelicans on the river.


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1 Comment


Bruce Coen
Bruce Coen
Apr 10

As always a wonderfully entertaining article by that intrepid traveller Chere' Coen!

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