dogs on leash
Pinnacle Mountain is a day-use park dedicated to environmental education, recreation, and preservation. Located just west of Little Rock, this natural environment was set aside in 1977 as Arkansas's first state park adjoining a major metropolitan area. Operating as a day-use only park, Pinnacle Mountain is dedicated to preservation, recreation, and environmental education. Park interpreters and volunteers help visitors and students understand man's relationship to the environment in the 2,000-acre park that offers a rich diversity of natural habitat.
This is a neat trail. It is very short but the forest it goes through is very tall and slender; mostly hardwood (I assume the park rangers have culled out the pines). There are very large cypress trees along the Maumelle river. The river is also pretty as long as it is not the dry season and it is flowing.
This is the more challenging of the two summit trails. About half way up, the trail turns into a rock field. I had my two boys with me (7 and 5) and began to question whether it was a good idea for them to be on the trail, but they crushed it pretending to be "rock beasts"! I cannot say how the trek back down is as I took the kids back down the easier, west trail.
Great view at top. Be warned; it gets crowded on top. Terrain on top is also highly worn so it can be slick.
On your way through the rock field, keep an eye out for the turkey vultures sunbathing on top of the rock walls.
I give this trail three stars because it is the most popular of the 7 trails in the state park. You can catch it when it is not crowded early in the morning or late afternoon or bad weather. If you are there in good weather, the later you wait in the morning, the more dangerous it becomes from the amount of people that are going to crowd on top. The dirt is very compacted, rocks worn and tree bark is worn smooth at the top to the point where it is a slick hike when conditions are wet.
I do not give this trail three stars because it is only so so. I give it as a warning to how popular and crowded it is; so be safe!!!!
In fact, the views on top are amazing. You can see downtown Little Rock and the Arkansas river. Turkey vultures and hawks are always circling (you can catch them sunbathing on the rocks on the east summit trail). You can catch migrating birds stopping over such as the great white pelican. You have a great southern view across the valley to Chenal mountain. Great view of Lake Maumelle. My favorite view is looking west at the slow rolling foothills of the Ouachitas and imagining taking an adventure on the full length of the Ouachita trail.
I have done smaller sections around lake Maumelle and also the section between highway 7 and highway 298. I generally have the trail to myself which is a bonus for me (I ran into a pair of mountain bikers one time through the roughly 40 miles I have hiked). The majority of people, both in and out of Arkansas, are going to flock to the Ozarks in northern Arkansas which is a reason why you have the area to yourself quite often. It is also a clean trail as I have very rarely seen trash in it.
I enjoy the lake Maumelle section (east terminus is at the Pinnacle Mountain state park visitor center and runs around 22 miles along the north shore of the lake until it hits highway 10 before heading west to highway 9). The lake is the Little Rock water supply, so it has quite a few rules about what goes on around the lake. The water company owns it plus 9,000 more acres surrounding it (totaling 17,900 acres). Due to the rules, the land surrounding can be secluded and is a great place to see waterfowl including Eagles. There is no camping on the land surrounding the lake. There is a spur off the land to where a family has set up a campsite (Penny lane campsite). The spillway section is also neat when the lake is overflowing. There is also a neat beaver pond on the west side off highway 113.
Lake Ouachita is also a beautiful place. The section just north of the lake has several lookout points where you get good views of the lake. You can sometimes see the lake covered in fog with the tips of some islands poking through.
When you start at the highway trailheads, it is amazing how quickly the trees muffle out the roar of the cars. There are neat sections of forest all throughout the trail; too many to list! Where the trail intersects highway 300 the second time has the biggest pine tree I have ever seen. You will also find wildlife ponds in the middle of nowhere. Several areas will also have no cell service.
Several long sections of the trail will spend a lot of time on ridges so you get good views across the valleys to the next set of ridges (the Ouachitas are unique as they run east to west and are the highest points between the Rockies and Appalachians). There are several areas where you look up and down the mountain and do not see the top or bottom (trees night have something to do with this