Are you an RVer who loves city life—but also enjoys a natural setting? A visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, can give you experiences of the city alongside pristine nature at nearby Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The state park is located just over a mile from the northwest edge of Little Rock in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Pinnacle Mountain at over 1,000 feet dominates the 2,300-acre day-use park. RV parking at U.S. Corps of Engineers Park along the Arkansas River is a mere three miles down the road from Pinnacle Mountain—and within 10 minutes of downtown Little Rock. From 1880 to 1920, Arkansas experienced its heyday in the lumber industry. In 1909, the natural state ranked fifth in timber production. In those days, no one considered conservation of forestlands. When the Little Rock, Maumelle, and Western Railroad was built, the entire area in and around Pinnacle Mountain State Park boundaries was logged—and flat rail cars carried away the lumber. Years passed. Trees and vegetation grew back and in 1977, the acres surrounding Pinnacle Mountain became Arkansas’s first state park adjoining a metropolitan area.
The park today features a diversity of natural habitat including high upland peaks and fertile bottomlands along the Big Maumelle and the Little Maumelle Rivers. Over 40 miles of hiking trails are maintained by Pinnacle Mountain State Park, ranging from a one-half mile paved self-guided nature trail to a junction with the Ouachita National Backpacking Trail. Maps and guides at the Visitor Center are available to help one choose an appropriate length and difficult for a hike. Naturally, many visitors want to climb to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain. Two trails lead upward, each about three-quarters of a mile, but one called the East Summit Trail is more rugged, actually crossing several boulder fields. The West Summit Trail requires about 45 minutes to climb to the saddle of the mountain. Allow twice that time for the East Summit Trail. A base trail, about three miles long, circles the mountain. Hikers can go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The trail is relatively level and wildlife is often encountered.
The Arkansas Trail is near the center of the park within the 80-acre Arkansas Arboretum. The three-quarters-of-a-mile trail is paved and level. Interpretive signs and recorded messages help introduce the state’s trees in different geological settings. Along the trail, green cylinders can be rapidly turned for recorded information about six major natural divisions of Arkansas and the trees and flora that thrive in a particular area. Lee turned the hand crank for facts about trees in locations such as the Ozarks Highlands or the Arkansas Delta. The moderate Kingfisher Trail, a one-half mile paved walkway, is ideal for baby strollers or those with physical limitations that curtail hiking the more strenuous trails. The trail is highlighted by huge, centuries-old bald cypress trees along the banks of the Little Maumelle River. Often a park ranger offers an interpretation of the area.
The park offers bikers more than eight miles of single track, mountain bike trails. Choose from the seven-tenths-of-a-mile Rabbit Ridge Mountain Bike Trail or the 7.4-mile Jackfork Mountain Bike Trail. At Pinnacle Mountain State Park, there is something for everyone, regardless of stamina, age, or even time. Above the Visitor Center and the east corner of the parking lot, steps climb to an overlook with sweeping views of the Arkansas River Valley, Pinnacle Mountain, and Lake Maumelle. From the overlook trail, the Rocky Valley Trail begins a two-mile loop through a heavily forested valley and past an old rock quarry. The park is dedicated to environmental education, outdoor recreation, and preservation. Picnic tables are readily available. Park interpreters provide various programs and events throughout the year, including interpretive canoe and boat tours. Horseback riding, offered by a concessionaire, is also available in the park. Contact Chief Whitehorse Trail Rides at 501-327-7776 for details.
Park gates are closed one hour after sunset. To reach Pinnacle Mountain State Park, take Exit #9 off I-430 at Little Rock and travel seven miles west on Arkansas Highway 10, then go two miles north on Arkansas Highway.300. For information on upcoming programs and events, call 501-868-5806 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com