It has been an odd autumn in Arkansas this year. We have had record-breaking rain (in fact, October was one of the wettest months ever in Little Rock). The large amount of rain dampened the fall colors a bit, the oak trees here are just turning to a stagnant brown instead of changing into a more pleasant color. But the past few weeks have seen some great fall color up in the Ozarks.
I woke up a few weeks ago in Charleston, after my cousin's high school football game. I was in the western part of the state, and had some great places all around me to go and visit. There were some other photographers meeting up at Petit Jean that weekend. But since I was so close by, I decided to drive up and visit White Rock Mountain, a neat spot in the Ozark National Forest.
White Rock Mountain is located northwest of the city of Ozark. But the best way there, which has the least amount of dirt roads, is to travel up north from Mulberry. So I set out and headed up the road from Mulberry, only to misread the directions and turn around since I thought I had missed the turn (a shame, since I'd been that way a few times before). I drove back to the freeway, then re-read the guidebook in a confused manner, realized my mistake and sheepishly drove back up north.
From the Mulberry exit on I-40, you drive about 12 miles north to a turn-off that leads to Shores Lake. But once you get to Shores Lake, the road turns to dirt and gets much more bumpier. The Forest Service has done some work recently to improve the road, but you still have to drive really slow through parts to avoid some rocks and gullies in the road. My new car was covered in dirt after the trip, a coating that even all of the rain we had last week failed to clean off the car.
This is a view of some of the fall color along the road up to the mountain:
At the top of the mountain, I was surprised that it wasn't all that crowded. Everyone else must have been at the Buffalo River - I heard reports of sixty cars parked along the dirt road at the Hawksbill Crag trailhead that weekend. From the main parking area it's just a short walk to one of the most popular views on the mountain.
There are several miles of trails that go along the top of White Rock Mountain. I followed one for a bit, that goes along the edge of a tall bluff. This is the view looking down into the Ozark Mountains.
And a reminder - if you visit here, be very careful. The trails run right alongside the bluffs, so mind the edge.
I hiked along the bluff for a bit, and decided it was time to head back home. The drive back down the mountain added a new layer of dirt to the car. But it also provided for a few more stops to see more of the fall color. This was a particularly vibrant stretch of trees alongside the road.
A few other people drove by and looked out in appreciation of the fall colors. One person was standing up in the car, her head and shoulders rising up through a car's sunroof. She had a camera pointed out, and she had a big smile on her face.