This past holiday weekend, my husband had a great idea for our family to climb Pinnacle Mountain. It’s actually part of Pinnacle Mountain State Park which is northwest of Little Rock. It includes a visitor center with gift shop, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, canoeing, playground, picnic areas, fishing areas, and arboretum.
Our first stop was the Visitors Center. It has some neat interactive displays and a relief map of the park. There was a room off to the side with an actual tiny alligator in a large aquarium, a turtle in another aquarium, and two other aquarium with snakes. One was albino which my kids thought was so cool; I did too! That little room was packed with all sorts of informative things like examples of different animal tracks. Some different types of things that have been collected at the state park anything from quartz to snake skin molts. There was also a big poster with pictures of all the native birds of Arkansas.
The back deck of the Visitors Center was the best part. It was the length of the building with a view of the Arkansas River. What an amazing view! It was also crazy to see how the river was just beginning to flood from all the water starting to come down river. From the deck, it seemed like I could see all the way to Oklahoma.
My kids’ favorite part of the Visitors Center was the gift shop. That’s generally always their favorite. They had so pretty cool t-shirts and lots of other fun items you can find in gift shops. My kids picked a little glass bird and two “gold bar” excavation toy that each had little rocks. I was happy to get a free brochure map of the park.
We took the map and headed to the West Summit Trail. At the base of the trail is a playground, picnic area, and large parking area. Our kids immediately wanted to play on the playground. No can do! Had to save that energy for the hike up to 1100 feet above sea level.
Luckily, it didn’t seem so bad climbing up the path through the shaded forest. My sweet kids kept finding so many different nature surprises… like a tiny patch of blackberries, lizards, wildflowers, butterflies, red and pink mushrooms, and even a tiny blue snake. All of nature’s tiny wonderments are what make hiking so much fun to me.
Our kids are in the 7-11 year range. I wouldn’t recommend this for kids much younger than that. Some of the terrain was very cumbersome. There were to patches that it was just climbing over giant rocks and trying not to slip as you go up or on the way back down especially. See the yellow paint on the rock on the very bottom of the below photo? That’s how the trail was marked on the rocky part.
On the way up, there was also lots of whining about being tired and the favorite question, “How much farther?” Many stops were made along the way to rest and drink water but eventually we made it to the tippy-top of Little Rock – Pinnacle Mountain.
It was worth the climb!
We stayed for a little while at the top but it ended up being pretty hot up there with less shade or no shade at all in some places. Whew! The temperatures were in the 90s. After a bunch of photos were made, it was time to make our decent. Ok, ok, I know this wasn’t Everest but I’ve got to keep things interesting as a courtesy for you reading this far through the post. 🙂
Obviously, going down was much easier than up. Just a note of caution though, it mountain climbing most injuries usually occur going down a mountain than up. Sure enough, our youngest lost his footing just behind me. He yelled out as I turned and saw him slip on a giant rock/mini boulder and start to tumble. Thank You Lord that he didn’t keep falling down the rocky train and caught himself. I held his hand for much of that part of the decent and we scooted on our behinds as a way to keep from losing balance. So all that to say, “BE CAREFUL!!!” You can quickly lose your balance or footing on these slick rocks.
Once back on the main trail, it is a bit more like walking down stairs in some places and flat in others. Be sure to stay on this zigzag path all the way down to the trail head. I made the mistake of trying to catch up with everyone by cutting through the woods and am ate up by chiggers (aka berry bugs if you’re not from the backwoods don’t have a flushing toilet kind of growns up). I’m still scratching. OH, so that leads me to another tip – bug spray people. I know better than to go off the trail and into the woods without it but yet here I am scratching.
By the time we made it back to the beginning, I was hangry. No that’s not spelled wrong: hungry + angry = hangry. Picnic areas to the left and right of the trail entrance, people cooking out, picnicking going on, and the scent of BBQ hung heavy in my nose.
Next to the playground/bathroom/soda vending machines, was a glorious sight! Rock Bottom BBQ food truck. Guess whose family had some delicious sandwiches and barbecue stuffed baked potato? Oh, yea. This one!
There were several shaded picnic tables near the playground so my husband and I had a nice time watching the kids play after we ate. How did they still have energy to play?! LOL