“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn,” John Muir.
Yesterday was warm, but an occasional breeze along with a trail that hugs the shade made the hike approachable. It’s been years since I enjoyed the strenuous hike up the East Summit Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. When people mention the easy (West Summit Trail) and hard (East Summit Trail) hikes up Pinnacle Mountain I usually correct them. The West Summit Trail is HARD, the East Summit Trail is HARDER. There is not an easy hike to the summit.
Any hike to the top involves preparation, make sure you take water. Outside of a few benches, the only facilities beyond parking around the mountain are the restrooms and water fountains in the West Summit Parking lot. Many people attempt to take dogs up the mountain. If you want to do this, please remember to have plenty of water for the dog, and if you are uncertain about how sure-footed your dog is it would probably be best to leave Fido at home. I wouldn’t recommend taking a dog up the East Summit Trail at all. All dogs must be on a leash in the park and you’ll need both hands to scramble up the near-vertical rockslide area.
I parked in the West Summit Parking lot and headed out with a bottle of water in a belt carrier, remember, hands-free. I walked up the West Summit until it met with the base trail and turned right. Following the Base Trail all the way around until it intersected with the East Summit Trail, I began my journey up. The first half of this hike is a gradual, rocky, uphill until faced with a wall of rock. This is where the scramble begins. Take your time moving from rock to rock checking your balance and following the blazing on the rocks to keep going in the right direction. You will be climbing on the rocks all of the way to the top.
Stop and take breaks along the way. Turn around and sit down on a rock and enjoy the various views at different heights along the way. That’s when I took most of these photos. In a few months, the leaves will be down and the view will change again.
Once at the top, feel free to explore both summits for views of the city and Arkansas River at the first summit and then go to the other for views of the river and Lake Maumelle, plus Rattlesnake Ridge and the Pinnacles to the west. Drink some water, eat a snack if you brought one, and then head down the West Summit Trail. This trail is nothing but down and the initial section involves moving from rock to rock before it gets a bit easier and rock steps guide you back to the parking lot. The entire hike is about 2.5 miles and it’s not like 2.5 miles in your neighborhood.
If you get out there and realize a climb to the top is not for you, consider hiking the base trail all the way around. It’s much less strenuous but is beautiful in its own way. Find out more about Pinnacle Mountain State Park and its wonderful trails.
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