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Friday, August 24, 2012

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

This is the sunset view from Pinnacle Mountain near Little Rock, Arkansas looking west to the Ouachita Mountains and Lake Maumelle.  next

 this is another angle showing Lake Maumelle.  next
 This sunset was taken after a winter storm had coated the mountain in a few inches of snow and ice.  next

Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a beautiful park close to Little Rock, Arkansas.  It boasts a surprising amount of nature in a relatively small amount of real estate; particularly in view of the fact that that park is basically surrounded by suburbia! I guess my favorite spot is on the summit of Pinnacle Mountain, where the westerly view to the Ouachita Mountains will make you forget how close to Little Rock you actually are; there is also a swamp, an abandoned quarry and beautiful quarry pond, a nice overlook of the Arkansas River at the Visitor Center, and the Kingfisher Trail/Arboretum Trail, both of which are close to the Little Maumelle River.
    I always use the West Summit Trail to get to the top of Pinnacle Mountain; expect the climb to take at least 30-40 minutes, and it is a pretty good workout. Remember, if you linger to take sunset photos, you have 30 minutes to get back down and out of the park before the rangers lock the gates. Also, you will be climbing down in decreasing light, which makes it easier to fall; particularly at the top, so please watch your step.   park directions   Arboretum Trail
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located close to Little Rock, Arkansas. From I-430, take the  exit for Hwy 10 (exit 9) heading west for five  or six   miles or so, turn right at Pinnacle Valley Road and follow the signs to the park; the road twists and turns quite a bit on the way in to the park; OR; even easier, instead of turning onto Pinnacle Valley Road from Hwy 10, drive a bit further west until turning right onto Hwy 300; follow this a few miles until crossing over the Little Maumelle River; a nice dayuse area will be on the right along with the West Summit trailhead. (If you continue on Hwy 300 a bit further instead of turning into the West Summit/dayuse parking lot, you can turn right onto Pinnacle Valley Road to loop back into the park; this takes you past the East Summit trailhead, the Arkansas Arboretum Trail and the Visitor Center as well as other scenic spots)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Noah "Bud" Ogle Nature Trail

This is an easy .75 mile loop hike starting from the well-preserved  Bud Ogle cabin that takes you to LeConte Creek and the Ogle Tub Mill; some foundation stones are along this hike as well. If you like wildflowers, spring is the time to visit; I think I prefer fall colors. From  US 441 in Gatlinburg, take #8 stoplight and drive into the park, bear right onto Cherokee Orchard Road. The historic farmstead is about 2.5 miles from the stoplight. next
This is the Ogle cabin; the Noah "Bud" Ogle Nature Trail starts behind the cabin and loops around for about 3/4 mile. next
The trail leads from behind the Ogle cabin down to the creek and the tub mill. next
The trail takes you past LeConte Creek; the roof of the tub mill can just be seen in the upper left of the frame. next
this is the Ogle Tub Mill located on LeConte Creek. The original stones are still intact inside.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kings River Falls

this is Kings River Falls. next

I recently hiked to Kings River Falls; an area I have wanted to see for a while; the area turned out to be prettier than I expected! This is near Boston, Arkansas, which is a rural community in northwest Arkansas. I will try to post  directions in the future. There is a small parking place right by a small creek that is the trailhead. The trail follows this creek and joins Kings River downstream a bit. The trail is level with just a few rough spots and takes no more than 30-40 minutes to get to the falls area. I arrived in late afternoon and stayed until sunset. This area looks like a perfect summer swimming hole; it was a bit too cool for me to take a dip at this time of year though. All in all, an easy, enjoyable hike.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thomas Ridge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

   Newfound Gap Road (US 441) bisects  Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee North Carolina; the road climbs to its high point at over 5000' elevation at Newfound Gap before dropping down into North Carolina. Newfound Gap Road  follows a prominent ridge known as Thomas Ridge for a few miles passing several overlooks and trailheads. Some of the most spectacular views in the park are along this stretch of road, particularly to the southwest looking over the Deep Creek drainage.  Here are several images from the area:
Smoky mountain sunset from Thomas Ridge  along US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.   (next)
sunset from Newfound Gap Road overlook on Thomas Ridge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.    (next)
evening light from Thomas Ridge  (next)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River

this is a view of the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park; the falls drops about 109'. If you look closely you can see a tourist at the tiny overlook to the upper right of the falls. This was taken from the overlook on the South Rim at the Uncle Tom parking lot.  I have directions to this spot here: 
to get to the Uncle Tom's overlook of the Upper Falls  of the Yellowstone River, start at the Canyon Junction intersection and head south on the grand loop road a couple of miles and take a left on the Artist Point Road;  the Uncle Tom parking lot will be on your left after a half mile or so. At the parking lot, head to the west part of the lot and the trail starts there; the overlook is right at the beginning.

autumn color on Little River in Great Smoky Mountains NP

late afternoon color really comes alive in afternoon light on Little River near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Another shot is below:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maloney Point sunrise in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is the sunrise view from Maloney Point looking  down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. next
Maloney  Point is an overlook on Little River Road a few miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are a couple of paved pullouts with limited parking areas here; there should be a signpost with a number one on it to help identify this spot; as  you head west on Little River Road from the visitor's center, watch for this area after climbing up a couple of steep hairpin curves. This is a nice spot to catch sunrise and gives a nice view of the valley down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Oconaluftee River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is autumn color along the Oconaluftee River in North Carolina in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. next
The Oconaluftee River tumbles from high in the Smoky Mountains until exiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park and eventually flowing through Cherokee, North Carolina. The Oconaluftee River is noted for  flyfishing, it contains a healthy population of brown and rainbow trout. US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) follows alongside much of the river as it flows toward Cherokee,  I saw this spot from the road and soon joined several photographers at this popular spot; the tree had particularly vibrant foliage that really stood out. Smokemont Campground is located on the banks of this river and is one of the best campgrounds in the park; fairly quiet and beautiful (no showers though), also Kephart Prong trailhead is in this area and starts right from the river. I would encourage a stop a little further down US 441 at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center; in addition, the Oconaluftee River Trail starts at the Visitor Center and takes you along the river into Cherokee.   next
this is a view of the Oconaluftee drainage from just below Newfound Gap.  next
another view of this area.  next
this is another angle.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hammerschmidt Falls near Low Gap, Arkansas

this is Hammerschmidt Falls at the top of Indian Creek Canyon near Low Gap, Arkansas.   next
Hammerschmidt Falls is a 43' waterfall near Low Gap,  Arkansas  that flows into Indian Creek, which flows into the Buffalo River. Indian Creek flows through a very steep canyon; according to Tim Ernst, the Park Service records more injuries in this canyon from hikers, etc. than any other area in this region;it certainly looks steep enough for that to be the case.  You can access this falls just off of  hwy 74; either 2.4 miles east of Low Gap, or  2.8 miles west of the Kyles Landing turnoff. Either way, you start the hike by heading north  on an unsigned  dirt road by a fence (right across from the Horseshoe Canyon turnoff); there is a very pretty farm to your left as you hike downhill; the road will curve to your right(east) for a distance; when you come to a little creek, head left (north) for a short distance until you come to the top of the falls. If you walk down the rim of the small canyon below the falls, there are places to drop down to the creek; expect to get wet and muddy; during heavy rain, water will be pouring off of the entire canyon rim! Be careful; this is a great place to take a fall; also, the surrounding area looks to be private land; if you are not sure of access, call the Park Service  for more details.  next
this is a detail of the cascade below the waterfall.  next

Monday, January 30, 2012

Carlos Campbell Overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is the view from Carlos Campbell overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  next

Carlos Campbell Overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 This overlook is named after Carlos C. Campbell, a noted conservationist who worked tirelessly to help establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a National Park back when many local businessmen and politicians were against the formation of a park; the overlook was named in his honor posthumously.  The overlook is located on Newfound Gap Road just a few miles south of Sugarlands Visitor Center, the pulloff is right on the east side of the road. The dramatic view takes in a large section of the valley all the way to Mt. LeConte at just under 6600'elevation.  next

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Roaring Fork River on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

this is the Roaring Fork River by the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  next
Roaring Fork Motor Nature is a winding one-way road close to Gatlinburg, Tennessee just inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park that loops up into the mountains and then back down into Gatlinburg, passing several pioneer homesites, a couple of nice valley overlooks, several trailheads leading to  Grotto Falls and Mt. LeConte as well as others, the Roaring Fork River for a ways, as well as Place of a Thousand Drips waterfall right by the roadside. The road is a little narrow and curvy in spots and may not be  suitable for a large RV; the road is also closed in winter. From Gatlinburg on US 441,take traffic light #8 through an intersection to Cherokee Orchard Road; after 3-4 miles you will come to the one-way entrance to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.   next
this is the millhouse at Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at the Reagan homeplace.  next
this is the Roaring Fork River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  next

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Little Pigeon River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is Little Pigeon River near Greenbrier, Tennessee.  next

Little Pigeon River near Greenbrier, Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of my favorite areas in the Smoky Mountains is along the Little Pigeon River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Greenbrier, Tennessee. The picture above is from where Porter's creek joins the Little Pigeon River; the road forks at this area; the right fork takes you to Porter's Creek trailhead; the left fork crosses the creek and takes you to Ramsay's Cascades trailhead. next

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rim Trail at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas

this is the western view from the Rim Trail on White Rock Mountain in northwest Arkansas; the trail follows the band of cliffs that ring the flat, narrow top of  (next)
White Rock Mountain is a beautiful mountain located in northcentral Arkansas toward the western end of the Boston Mountains; it is the highest area for some distance and has really sweeping views particularly to the south and west; Oklahoma is visible on a clear day. It is not really easy to get here; I had to drive 13+ miles on gravel roads to get here although that is part of the fun; and it is really remote; you feel like you are in the wilderness. (I will put directions in a future post) There are several cabins and a lodge dating from the 1930's you can rent; although they are a little funky; all are comfortable. (no central heat or air; just a wood stove and hot running water). The views from the Rim Trail are pretty awesome; some of the best in the state; there are several overlook shelters along this trail to stop and take in the view. Be super careful along parts of this trail; it goes right to the edge of the cliffs in several spots; several people have supposedly died in falls here. Make sure you bring all your supplies with you; it is at least 15 miles over rough roads to the nearest small store. I have another view from the Rim Trail here:
this is fall color near the Sunset overlook on the Rim Trail at White Rock Mountain; note that fog has almost topped the cliffs; fog is very common here. next
this is the entrance to the top of the mountain, note the cliff warning; at least 7 people have died falling from the 50-100' cliffs; the trail goes right to the edge in places so I can see how it could happen; watch your step!   next
this is the neat old lodge I stayed in; it was built in the 1930's.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This is autumn color on West Prong Little Pigeon River  at Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail by the picnic area.  next
Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail is located  about 4.5 miles south of Sugarlands Visitor Center right off of US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The picnic area  is located along West Prong Little Pigeon River; there are restrooms and a phone here.  Besides putting on a great autumn color display, this area  is known for epic spring wildflower blooms also. The trail is an easy 1 mile loop. next
here is a late blooming wildflower at Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail. next
This  is the US 441 bridge at Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Grotto Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is Grotto Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. next

Grotto Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grotto Falls is a great hiking destination in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From US 441 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, take traffic light #8 on into the park to Cherokee Orchard Road; after  3.6 miles turn right onto Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail; drive 1.7 miles to the Grotto Falls trailhead. After a short distance, the trail joins Trillium Gap Trail. Grotto Falls is about 1.3 miles oneway; it is a constant, moderate grade all the way to the falls. After the falls, the trail goes all the way to the summit of Mt LeConte. The trail actually goes under the falls; if you are there at the right time, you may get to see a llama train carrying supplies to LeConte Lodge (at the summit) travelling under the falls! I have several images of the falls here: