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Hixson Family Nature Preserve

The Hixson Family Nature Preserve, located on a dual peninsula just north of the Gardens’ main trails, encompasses 45 acres of natural Ouachita woodland. Visitors to the preserve learn about the woodland environment from educational displays placed along the adjoining Lowland Forest Boardwalk - a forest and ecosystem demonstration project funded by the Arkansas Forestry Commission that educates the public about the environmental benefits of trees and forest cover.

An aviary for Blue India peafowl, guinea, and pheasants is situated at the entrance of the preserve, where the Garland County Audubon Society has spotted more than 120 species of birds, including the bald eagle, pileated woodpecker, and tufted titmouse. Aptly named for the feathered friends found along its footpath, the 1.9 mile Birdsong Trail offers resting benches for watching the birds feed at special stations and enjoying some of the best vistas of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs.

The woodland refuge, nestled under a towering canopy of oak and cypress trees, is also home to the Shannon Perry Hope Overlook, a secluded site for reflection that honors the memory of a daughter lost by long-time Gardens’ supporters and volunteers, Stuart and Diana Perry.

Hot Springs philanthropist Martha Hixson gifted monies for the naming rights of the preserve, paying homage to her late husband, Robert, founder and president of Hixson Lumber Sales of Magnolia, AR, and their sons, Bob and Walter.