In recent years, this city of 195,000 has become a runner’s paradise. Since 1993, federal, state, and local governments have funneled more than $62 million into what has become the Arkansas River Trail System, a 34-mile network that loops around the Little Rock Metropolitan area. The trails connect 38 parks that cover more than 5,000 acres.
“You can bike or run loops for miles,” says Leah Thorvilson, 34, a marathoner who works at GoRunning, a local store. Life here isn’t just about sweat, though; thanks to a strong aerospace industry, the town’s economy is one of the most stable in the South, and residents convene at a twice-weekly farmers’ market, free weekly summer jazz concerts in the River Market district, and Pinnacle Mountain State Park, with 2,356 acres of hiking and mountain biking.