Pinnacle Mountain State Park (Little Rock, AR)
Along with the hike to Cedar Falls and Blue Hole, another “must-hike” from several of the people that we met in Little Rock was Pinnacle Mountain at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, just outside of Little Rock, AR.
We were told that there are two ways to the top, “the easy way” and “the hard way”. Our friends advised us to go up the hard way (the East Summit) and down the easy way (the West Summit). So that’s exactly what we did.
Nearest City/Town: Little Rock, AR
Length: 1.5 miles (To summit and back down), 3.5 miles (base loop trail)
Elevation: 600 ft
Time: 1-2 hours
The East Summit Trail
“The Hard Way” is the East Summit Trail, which is most easily reached from a parking lot at the trailhead off of Pinnacle Valley Road. As the moniker suggests, this is a tough hike requiring good agility and a willingness to climb up and over a boulder field that covers about 2/3 of the ascent. The trail is 3/4 of a mile each way.
This hike will get your legs and lungs feeling good. Knox and his 4 legs had no trouble with most of the boulders, but the humans have to pick and choose their way up the rock field. The rocks are huge and stable, so we doubt there’s much concern of a rock slide. Nonetheless, this route is challenging.
Even this trail, which is basically just a wide swath of boulders, is well-maintained. There are even red and white blazes marking the best route up the boulders. Stick to those and you shouldn’t have any issues.
The West Summit Trail
After going up “The Hard Way,” we followed our friend’s advice to go down “The Easy Way” and then take the Base Loop back around. Like the East Summit Trail, the West Summit Trail is 3/4 of a mile each way. While it’s still rocky, it’s much less treacherous than the East Summit.
You won’t find yourself climbing up and over boulders, though you will be walking on them. In most places, the boulders have been laid out nicely to form easily navigable steps. The lower half of the trail is an easy dirt trail with a few in-laid rock or wooden steps.
The Base Loop Trail
If you’re not feeling like climbing to the summit, Pinnacle Mountain has a Base Loop Trail that runs 3.5 miles around the base of the mountain. If you do like we did and go up the East Summit Trail and down the West Summit Trail, you’ll have to take the Base Loop Trail back around. It’s 1.5 miles one way and 2 miles the other.
This trail is flat with very little in the way of elevation gain or loss. This is your basic stroll through the woods kind of hike. Along the way, we did see a snake or two and several lizards.
If you’re really looking for some punishment, combine trail running on the Base Trail with speed runs up to the summit. There was one girl at the mountain the day we were there that ran the entire Base Loop Trail, then went to the summit and back down 3 or 4 times for her workout. That’s pretty hard-core.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located off of Arkansas Highway 300, 16 miles northwest of Little Rock.
While both the East Summit and the West Summit Trails require some effort to get to the top, the effort is more than worth it. Once you reach the rocky summit, you’ll be greeted with clear views in all directions of Little Rock, the Arkansas River, and the surrounding hills and forests.
And leave the wildlife alone. We saw a sign that read: “State Parks and Recreation Areas are sanctuaries for wildlife of every sort, and all hunting or the killing, wounding, frightening, capturing, or attempting to capture, at any time, any wild animal or fowl within the boundaries of any State Parks is prohibited.” (Lucky for us, that doesn’t include capturing on film…we hope!) So don’t even frighten the animals. In fact, don’t even think about the wildlife.