Every year my dad and I take a father/daughter hiking trip together. This year we stayed in the Ozarks, but went to a place neither of us have been. So, we wound up at Mount Magazine State Park. This is where the tallest point in all of Arkansas is. When researching the trip, we found that they had several trails, so we knew it would be a successful hiking trip.
Taking the Pig Trail:
The Pig Trail is one of the National Scenic Byways that cuts through the beautiful Natural State. My dad was really excited to take this drive because when he worked in Arkansas, he used to love taking this route. It’s called the Pig Trail because it looks like a pig’s tail. Here are couple of photos I got to take along the gorgeous drive.
One of the Overlooks Along the Way
Taking on Some of the Super Tight Turns
Cove Lake Trail/Mount Magazine Trail [9.5 miles]
We landed on doing the longest trail in the park – it starts in the state park and then continues over nine miles into the Ozark National Forest. That was about the extent of our planning. The trail takes you from the Mount Magazine Campground – where we were staying – down the mountain and ends at Cove Lake. Sounds amazing and scenic, huh?
Mount Magazine State Park has a shuttle service that will take you to one end or the other (you can even leave your car at a specific end). When we asked the park ranger when we got into the shuttle if he had done the hike he said yeah, “It’s a great way to stretch your legs.” We sort-of laughed and rode on to the trail head. The State Park was out of maps for the trail so we took some photos of it on our phones from the big map at the trailhead.
So, you know how I said that this hike sounds like it would be scenic? Well, it wasn’t. It was 9.5 miles in a green tunnel. Normally something like this would really bother me, especially if it was a short hike. However, when you’re planning on seeing something beautiful for 9.5 miles, it’s sort-of a disappointment. Plus, you wanna know a little secret? I’m insanely out of shape! Ha! Matt and I usually did several miles of hikes in a week, but since we’re saving money for our big trip, we’ve not been going very often. I also learned that it is time to replace my hiking boots. I haven’t replaced mine since 2014 and I got loads of blisters. The good thing about this hike, even though it wasn’t the beauty I was expecting was the company. I loved being able to spend time with my dad.
This was the best mountain view we got along the whole trail!
One lesson I learned, though, was to ask more questions about trails. Don’t just assume the longest trail is the best. Sometimes it’s just the longest.
The Unofficial Sunset Trail
This was our favorite trail and we didn’t even get to see all of it! This trail is 2 miles each way, out and back, and it’s really flat, easy to hike (which was good for our aching muscles) and exceptionally beautiful! We started out intending to go all the way to the end, which is referred to as ‘Sunset Point’, but we were sore and going to be heading home later that night, so we stopped at around a mile and went back to a beautiful spot to catch the sunset. Plus, it had a ton of bluffs and such that we could climb out on and explore while we waited for the sun to set. It was super stunning.
How to Find this Unofficial Trail:
While it sounds super exclusive or hidden, the rangers and employees of Mount Magazine State Park that we spoke to are all in agreement that it’s their favorite trail. Because of this, maps have been made as well! So, you simply go to the Picnic Area at Brown Spring (which is a beautiful view as well) and look for a sign that says, Danger High Cliff! The trail starts just beyond there. It’s easy and stunning, and once you start the unofficial trail it’s well-marked. There are multiple wet-water-waterfalls (marked with signs) + rock formations along the way. Don’t forget many of the waterfalls in Arkansas only flow in times of lots of rain. So, if you’re going waterfall hunting in the Ozarks, research whether or not it’s a wet-weather waterfall or not.
A Few Tips for Visiting Mount Magazine State Park:
Where to Stay?
A Couple of Photos from Inside the Gorgeous Lodge
You can stay at the beautiful lodge that overlooks a lake and more mountains. There are loads of chairs that you can sit on to take in the view on the back deck. There’s a common room that has the same view with a large fireplace – I’m sure it’s perfect in the fall.
While the lodge is awesome, it was more than we were wanting to spend on a father/daughter hiking trip. So, we sprung for the campground. We stayed in the section that has an awesome bathhouse, there’s electricity, which was nice for phone + camera charging at night, a fire pit and a perfect spot to pitch a tent, or bring your camper. There’s also a very basic campground that costs even less, but it has no bathhouse, just simple toilets and no electricity.
Eating at the Skycrest Restaurant in the Lodge:
I cannot emphasize enough how delicious the Skycrest Restaurant is. We were there over the weekend which meant we got to take advantage of their Sunday breakfast buffet. I’m not typically the biggest fan of buffets because they’re often bland and full of mediocre foods. That was not the case here. Everything was incredibly delicious and included a made-to-order omelet! Their biscuits + gravy, home fries and cinnamon rolls were among my favorites. We went back here for dinner and found that their burgers were very reasonably priced and their portions are massive. If you get a side, get their fried okra. It was delicious.
We didn’t get to explore all of the beautiful trails in Mount Magazine state park, but we enjoyed our time together. Time together is the best part of these father/daughter trips. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to get to see this beautiful country with my dad. I had a blast on this one and I can’t wait to see where our next one takes us!
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