September 6, 2016
I am so behind on writing. You know, life gets in the way. But here it goes….my adventures on Mt. Magazine and throughout the state park. But before I get into that, I gotta give you a little backstory…I recently designed a calendar showcasing my landscape photography across Arkansas during the last year’s hiking excursions (click here to view). I sent the design to most of the state parks to see if they would be interested in selling them in their gift shops. However, seeing that the photos were taken in the Ozark National Forest, and not in any state park, they were hesitant to pick it up. But Mt. Magazine was interested in my work and asked me to come out and do a park specific calendar for them to sell in their gift shops. So of course I jumped on this opportunity. This meant I needed to hike as much of the park as the day would allow.
Pops and I got there around 10 am and started our assignment. We took off to the most popular trail in the park, Signal Hill. This leads to the highest point in Arkansas. We spent some time at the summit trying to take pictures of the plethora of butterflies that flutters around us. They’re fast little buggers.
After our warm up hike we decided to go the the Brown Springs area and find the Mt. Magazine Cascade despite knowing it would be dry. Last time we attempted this hike it was storming and felt it was in our best interest not to walk on slick rocks on the side of a mountain. Once we found where the cascade would be during wet season we headed back out the one mile through open fields and what looked liked to once be beautiful homesteads. We then headed to the Cameron Bluff Overlook and drove around checking out the valley.
After our scenic drive we went to the Visitor’s Center and toured their education room. We were starting to get hungry and headed back towards the Lodge, but first making a pit stop at the hang gliding launch pad and taking about a 1/2 mile trip up the Mossback trail to see if we could get a good lookout point back towards the Lodge. Unfortunately during this time of the year the underbrush was blocking any trail to a viewpoint. We agreed at this point to refuel and eat at the Lodge restaurant soaking up the entire Mt. Magazine experience. As we were waiting for the food to arrive I walked the back patio to take pictures of the Blue Mountain Lake and the Petit Jean River Valley.
After gorging ourselves on their Pork Chop and Chutney house specialty and my all-time favorite, Monte Cristo, we headed back out to hit the trails. We originally had planned to do a 7 mile loop and hit portions of several trails, but time was not on our side today. We revised our trip to hit points of interest. I was curious about the Will Apple’s trail. The description noted old homesteads and fences and I thought this would be a great historical photo op. Sadly, the underbrush was so thick we could not see the homesteads. After a mile we decided to turn around and save that trail for the Winter when the thickets are gone. We then elected that the Bear Hollow trail would be the most beneficial for photographs. It seemed to have the most points of interest including the WPA steps, Sunrise Rock and Inspiration Point. We were closer to the Northeast trailhead and took off only to discover that these particular spots were on the opposite side of the hollow and the other end of the trail. We turned around and went to the Southeast trailhead. The first thing we came to were the WPA steps. After 1/2 mile or so we stumbled upon Sunrise Rock. We continued on approximately another 1/2 mile to Inspiration Point.
At this point it was later in the afternoon and one picture I was dying to get was the lone tree on the ledge. We could tell by other photos that it was over Blue Mountain Lake and headed back towards the lodge. While looking for the small trail to the tree we found the Rock Climbing trail and decided to see what it was all about. It was a neat scurry down a cliff wall and had some amazing viewpoints of the valley.
We turned around since we are not rock climbers. The hike only got more treacherous ahead. After emerging out of the rock wall and heading back towards the lodge we found a small unmarked trail that took us right to the lone tree on the ledge. I knew I wanted to revisit this spot at sunset. We decided to stop back in the Lodge restaurant and eat an appetizer and wait for the sun to go down a bit. After another food pit stop we walked the pathway from the Lodge to the cabins to the East. That’s when I saw the neatest twisty tree hanging off the side. Of course I had to take its photo.
By this point the sun was setting and it was a scurry to hit all the places in the park I felt were sunset photo worthy. We stopped back at lone tree and even took some photos off the balcony of an empty cabin. After walking 10 miles of the park I felt we had accomplished our goal capturing the beauty of this mountain.
All in all, it was a great day trip to the most famous Arkansas state park. The Lodge and cabins are beautiful and I would recommend a weekend trip to anyone. It is not only family friendly but could also be a romantic getaway for two.