There are many state parks all over the state in Arkansas, and luckily there are several not far from where I live. Last Thursday my faithful dog, Rascal, and I went to explore Mt. Nebo State Park. My wife and I drove through Mt. Nebo back in the late 1990’s. In fact, our brakes wore completely out on this Mountain and we had to be rescued by some friends in nearby Russelville. But this time I spent much more time here, most of it on foot.
My dog and I love to go on nature hikes. I suppose this replaces the cemetery walks we used to go on when we lived up north. Arkansas doesn’t have the impressive cemeteries (at least not that I have found), but it does have some beautiful landscapes in rugged mountains. Arkansas may not have the elevations of the Rocky’s or the Appalachians, but it is still pretty and best of all it’s close and free. As a truck driver, I have seen a great deal of the country. Unfortunately, It’s been through a windshield. Hopefully, I will one day get to explore those lands that I had to travel past, but for now I’m enjoying my home state.
The road up the Mt. Nebo is one of the steepest I think I have travelled in a vehicle. It was so steep in parts that my truck lost traction and skidded to get up the hills. The posted speed limit is 10 mph and I doubt anybody can go much faster than that and stay on the road. We parked at the edge of the park at the beginning of the Bench Trail. The Bench Trail is the longest trail in the park as it encircles the mountain. It is about 4 miles long, wide, and fairly flat.
I believe this is the only trail that allows horses and bicycles. Along the Bench Trail there are several primitiv campsites some that have really nice views. There is nothing strenuous about the Bench Trail, but as you walk around the mountain there are several trails that go up to the Rim Trail, and at points up to the top of the mountain. These smaller trails are not very long (about a 1/4 to a 1/2 mile), but they are very steep. The first trail I came across was not far from where we parked. It was the Varnal Springs Trail.
Since I had already pushed my dog to the limit yesterday with a 15 mile hike, I was leary of pushing hard, so I decided to take that trail later when he wasn’t with me.
I took the Bench Trail to the Gum Springs Trail which was a trail that headed up the mountain. It was marked with strenuous signs, but since it was only a 1/2 mile lone, how strenuous could it be?
When we reached the top of the mountain the trail came out where the rental cabins were located. These cabins sit on the edge of the mountain and have some of the greatest views in the state.
I don’t think my pictures will be able to capture the terrain very well, but suffice it to say, “IT IS STEEP” The trails up the mountain can get pretty hairy looking at points. However, they are nicely marked and most of the time there are stones forming stairs going up.
The Rim Trail goes around the mountain just like the Bench Trail, but at times it ascends to the top and then goes back down. Unlike the Bench Trail it is not at all flat or wide. But it is the trail that has the best view because it is much higher. The Rim Trail connects to the Summit Park Trail which forms another loop. This has some really pretty landscapes.
By the time we reached Sunset Point, the sky was threatening to rain on us. Luckily, the rain didn’t last for long at all. Thge overlook with the clouds was really spectacular.
Farther down the trail is the visitors center which was quite nice and there is always friendly people inside who are nature lovers themselves.
After leaving the visitors center, we headed down the moutian on one of the trails leading back to the Bench Trail. This was sharp descent on a path of rocks. It wasn’t too bad at all unless leaves were covering the path.
The last spot we stopped was the Bench Overlook just before we got back to the truck.
That was the end of the journey for Rascal. He was tired so he stayed in the truck as I headed up to the Rim Trail once again. This time I was right next to Sunrise point. This walk along the Rim Trail was some of the most scenic of the trip. I love walking just below these huge bluffs. I was really something to see.