Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cherokee Prairie and Mount Magazine

I headed out to western Arkansas last weekend, to do some family stuff. I was in the town of Charleston, and on Sunday decided to take the scenic drive back home. My first stop was a prairie area just a few miles north of town. The Cherokee Prairie Natural Area is the largest tract of tallgrass prairie land in the state, at 566 acres. There you can find all sorts of wildflowers in bloom, and even a few prairie mounds there.
Cherokee Prairie
These flowers are called "Indian Paintbrushes," and were all over the prairie.
Cherokee Prairie
There is another prairie area nearby, just a few miles to the east. Called the Flanagan Prairie Natural Area, it was filled with the same type of flowers. Since it looked the same I won't bother with posting another shot of the same type of flowers. But driving back from Flanagan Prairie I did stop to get this shot of some other type of flowers growing near an old building.
Hwy. 60
I decided to take Hwy. 217 south from Charleston, which runs alongside Lake Charleston for a bit. The lake provides some neat views of Tater Hill, a small mountain that sits in Fort Chaffee. I had gotten a shot of Tater Hill once with the lake in the foreground, and looked to do a newer version of it. But it seems as if all the turn-offs to the lake were closed off, so no luck there. Following the road south, I saw this old barn and stopped to get a shot.
Old barn
The barn's days might be numbered though. There was a sign there advertising this area for a future housing development, which will probably result in this barn being torn down. A shame, really.

From there I continued on to the east, with Mount Magazine as my next destination.

The first stop on the way there was Cove Lake, in the National Forest at the foot of the mountain. There is a trail that runs along the edge of the lake and I got out and went to explore it a bit.
Cove Lake
I didn't stay out there too long, turning back when I got a shot of the lake that I liked. I stopped to take a shot of this lichen-covered rock, which might have been a mistake since I had to stumble through a lot of poison oak to get to it.
From there I headed uphill and went to the top of Mount Magazine, the highest point in the state at 2,753 feet. Arkansas has the 34th highest state point in the country. If you're curious about it (I was since I just looked this up), the state with the highest point is, of course, Alaska with Mt. McKinley (20,320 feet). The state with the lowest high-point is Florida (Britton Hill at 345 feet).

Mount Magazine isn't among the biggest mountains, but it does have some nice views. There is a road that visits a few overlooks (the road is helpfully named Overlook Road, in case you get confused). This was taken from one of the overlooks, looking down into the Arkansas River Valley.
Mount Magazine
The road also accommodates bike riders, with this little bike path. I didn't see anyone out there riding, though it would have been a good day for it. Good thing there weren't any bike riders out that day since I was blocking the path taking this shot:
I want to ride my bicycle
From there I went to find the Mount Magazine Cascade, a 100 foot cascade that tumbles down the side of the mountain. Since there hasn't been all that much rain here lately, I didn't think it would have much water in it. But the cascade is fed partly by spring water, so I thought it might be worth checking out. The cascade is along a short half-mile trail, which runs right to the top of the cascade. There really wasn't much water there after all, but I got this shot of a small waterfall along part of the cascade.
Mount Magazine Cascade
After visiting the cascade I went back and did the short hike to the summit of Mount Magazine, which would take me to the top of the state. The hike up there is easy. It is all uphill but it isn't very steep. Along the way there were lots of mayapples in bloom.
And then I made it to the top. The highest point in Arkansas is a bit anti-climatic. There isn't any grand sweeping view of the scenery up there, just a view of trees. They do have a rock outline of the state there, and a sign, so you do know you made it to the top.
Top of Arkansas
There weren't any other hikers out on the trail, so I had a few fun minutes of being the highest person in the state. Wait, that doesn't sound right. OK, I was the highest person up in terms of elevation. Which was pretty exciting, I guess.


Jonw said...

You and I really need to do a photo trip sometime...

I love the second wildflower shot--great color and well composed! I also like the shot of the street with the biking and those winding roads!!

And who would've thought that the lowest high spot in the country would be in Florida. I must admit that I'm surprised as I thought the highest spots in this state were the landfills.

Cormackphotos said...

Definately need a photo trip sometime.

They probably don't count landfills, it'd be a depressing listing to put out.