On Saturday, Michelle the two boys and myself made the journey over to North Little Rock to check out the skate park that they have recently constructed over the past year.
We were inspired to check out the area since Stacey ( FertileGround blog) went with her husband and two boys. Unfortunately we didn't make it over to do the Pinnacle Mountain hike.
The skate park is situated along the river and is actually pretty far removed from the rest of the downtown. It's located in a unique urban-wilderness area. Your driving along this small two lane road , which is mostly being used by cyclists ( what a surprise in itself) and then suddenly here is this skate park and small playground for the tots.
I think that the two lane road is a temporary bike trail and perhaps they will build the real "river" trail more along the river. My wife found it kind of stressful to have our 6 year old on his bike along with the jogger while looking out for the occasional car. As you get closer to town an actual bike trail along the river appears so clearly a work in progress.
In terms of the Riverview skate park layout(see picture above), at least for a smaller park, this is one of the best designs that I have seen. This park is now the 30th skate park that I have been to so that says a lot for the design. Dreamland designed this park and they really did it right. How? If you look at the picture above you have a snake run that essentially is a series of connected bowls. Starting on the right hand side there is a three foot bowl that goes down and winds to the left side and dumps you into a 10 foot bowl on the left side. Almost every face in the snake run has some type of hip or corner that you can do a trick on or launch into the air and there are roll-ins ( areas without the metal coping) that allow access into the bowl for beginners or for those who want to roll into the bowls with a lot more speed without having to worry about going over the metal coping and getting stuck (this follows with a face-plant). A roll-in is an especially nice feature if you are a roller-blader or roller-skater. Most importantly you will never take your foot off your board because the layout allows you to pump from one face to the next without losing momentum--we call this "flow". It's the same as being on a ski-mountain and never having to use your ski poles or unstrapping your snowboard to get past the flat spots. No flat spots in this place! It's the "flow" element that is the most addictive component of skating, surfing or snowboarding or skiing.
The street course is a fusion between street and old school where there are some small curve-linear hips that fuse into linear ramps. Street skaters like this since landing on a linear ramp causes much less whip lash then landing on the curvy-type ramp. Most of the street skaters were launching over the hip and a make shift trash can that was placed on the other face of the hip. A hip is where two adjacent faces meet in the middle. You launch off one face and land on the other.
The demographics were interesting and very integrated. There were about 12 Caucasians and 6-7 African American skaters. Skating is a great people mixer! Ages varied from 10- myself (the oldest ok?). The interesting part was that the African American skaters strongly gravitated to the curvy old-school bowls where as the other skaters were mostly doing the street part. This of course could have been an anomaly and I would need to go there about 10-15 more times to see if there was any sort of validity to this observation. Who knows?
My boys loved the little playground next to the skate park and Michelle had a great walk but again could have done without sharing part of the bike/hiking trail with the cars.
Essentially, the skate park is quite remote so the fact that it was packed gives testimony to not only the demand for such a park but also the demand for a well-designed park. Nice job North little Rock! You're going to need another park soon though! We'll be back......