Little Rock for the Arkansas Preservation Awards and Pinnacle Mountain State Park!
We were in Little Rock last weekend so it was a perfect time to visit Pinnacle Mountain, Toltec Mounds, and the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park. I've already covered Toltec and the Plantation Agriculture Museum. All three of these parks do not have camping facilities. But, at Pinnacle Mountain there is an excellent campground just across the street at Maumelle Park, a Corps of Engineers facility. We were in town for other things on Friday night first!
We were at the Governor's Mansion for the Preserve Arkansas annual Preservation Awards. It's a great organization, working hard to save historic buildings across the state of Arkansas and advocate for our history. While we have lots of local and regional non-profit groups, it's the only STATEWIDE organization doing so! My favorite program they do is the Ramble in the fall, a bus tour that visits several historic sites and includes lunch and dinner at cool places with beverages all along the way! You can get involved with them and learn more about their awesome programming by becoming a member!
My book (Images of America: Cane Hill) from Arcadia Press won the Ned Shank Award for Outstanding Preservation Publication. It was an honor to receive the awards and be among so many preservation friends. My parents came down for the occasion and Dad loved meeting the Governor. Huxley was so well behaved through dinner and the program. My friends Scott Davis and his wife sat at our table. Scott's work on the Tontitown Oral History Project won the Excellence In Heritage Preservation Award. We also had two State Representatives and their husbands at our table. The State Representative for my district, Charlene Fite has always been very supportive and great to have her at the program (she took better pictures than I did and I've included some of hers below). I was also grateful to have one our newest State Representatives, and one of my best friends in Little Rock Denise Ennett and her husband Cecil at our table!
But back over to Pinnacle Mountain! It is our 7th Arkansas State Park to visit this year and is a big one. It was established in the 1970s and includes 2069 acres! It's a unique geological setting and is where the Arkansas Delta meets the Ouachita Mountains. Because of this, the park encompasses several different geologic areas and associated biomes. If I could describe this park in one word it would be TRAILS. And trails are everywhere, over 40 miles worth! The park has a special trails brochure, so be sure to pick it up in the visitor center. The big trail at this park is the Ouachita Trail. It's a 221 mile trail that spans from this park, west to the Oklahoma border.
We always start at the parks visitor center and this is a really good one. The park had several interpreters on staff the day we visited. They maintain a collection of live animals and we got to see several snakes and an alligator.
Several friends in Little Rock frequent this park and gave us tips before we headed out. Many recommended the Arkansas Trail, so that is where we headed next. It's an easy paved 3/4 mile loop in the middle of the 80 acre Arkansas Arboretum. The trail highlights the different physiographic regions of Arkansas as it moves from lowlands to forested uplands. The trail is marked with lots of interpretive signage to highlight the different trees. Huxley really like the wind up stations that have recorded voices to describe the environment.
Everyone wants to climb Pinnacle Mountain while they are here and there are two options. Pinnacle Mountain rises 756 feet from bottom to top and at it's top is 1,011 feet above sea level. The East and West Summit trails are both 3/4 of a mile. BUT, the East Summit Trail is more difficult and includes scrambling over boulders for much of the trip. We choose the West Summit Trail, which was still difficult and includes scrambling over boulder fields for the last ~1/4 of a mile. It was more difficult than I anticipated with a four year old, but Hux made it and was happy about it when he saw the view from the top!
However, I have to say Huxley's favorite part of this park is their playground. They have two at this park, but the playground at the base of the mountain at the West Summit Trailhead is the best in any Arkansas State Park we have found so far.