General Information About Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a bit like the back yard of Little Rock. It is only about 12 miles from downtown and is loved by the central Arkansas residents. It was dedicated in 1977 and was the first state park near a major urban area.
You can’t miss the state park’s namesake mountain. Its rocky peak rises dramatically from the flood plain below.
Another amazing nearby park in the area that you will enjoy is Two Rivers Park. The William Kirsch Preserve is a wonderful natural area that sits in the shadow of Pinnacle Mountain. In fact, we have written a post that includes all the best outdoor activities in Little Rock.
I read somewhere once that to be classified a “mountain” a landmass must rise a minimum of 1,000 feet. Is that true? If so, then at 1011 feet Pinnacle Mountain is just barely a mountain. You know how college basketball players always add an inch or two to their height? I wouldn’t be surprised if they have done that to Pinnacle in order to call it a mountain. Pinnacle Hill just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
It may not be particularly tall, but it is ours, our local mountain. And honestly, it is pretty imposing as it rises, all volcano-like from the surrounding flat river bottom lowlands and fields. It isn’t a volcano by the way and yes, people do ask.
Pinnacle is surrounded by wooded hillsides, lush and swampy river bottom, and waterways which include the Little Maumelle River, the Big Maumelle River and the Arkansas River. It is a perfect place to while away a pretty afternoon and one of my favorite places in Little Rock.
The park is open year round from 6:30am and the gates close one hour after sunset. The Visitors Center is also open year round from 8:00 to 5:00.
Because Pinnacle such a part of Little Rock the place can get busy on pretty weekends. There is overflow parking across the road from the entrance to the playground and West Summit. You can usually find a place to park on even the busiest days.
We have never found parking on normal weekdays to be a problem at all.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park Visitor’s Center
The Visitors Center is open year round from 8:00 to 5:00. You can find brochures and park information there as well as some interactive displays that tell about the wildlife of the park and their habitats as well as the geography of the area. This is where you can also learn about the various educational opportunities and the events that the park holds for the public.
Pinnacle Mountain is a Day Use Only Park
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a day use park only. There are no camping or overnight areas of any kind. However, the Maumelle park campground is nearby and offers tent, RV, and trailer camping on 128 campsites with electrical hookups.
We have friends who stay at Maumelle park campground regularly and they always enjoy it. If you plan and reserve a spot early you can get one with a view of the river.
Although there is no where to spend the night at Pinnacle Mountain there are pavilions that you can rent for gathering. Contact the park or stop in at the visitor’s center to get more information. The picnic tables scattered around the park are first come first serve.
Hiking at Pinnacle Mountain State Park
You have several hikes from which to choose! Most of the hikes are fairly short, many are flat and easy while the ones that summit the mountain are short, but steep! Really steep. You’ll be surprised how quickly that 1,011 feet can elevate!
Arkansas Trail and The Arboretum
One of my favorites is the Arkansas Trail at the Arboretum. This is a paved, flat loop trail about .6 of a mile around. It is wheel-chair and stroller accessible and you can bring your dog if it is on a leash.
There are interpretive signs on the trail which explain the trees and flora of Arkansas as well as the geographical regions in the state.
This is a very shady trail so it is a good one for warmer days. It is usually not very crowded and has some benches along the route if you just want to sit and enjoy the woods and the shade.
The Arkansas Trail and Arboretum have their own parking lot. There are also a few picnic tables as you pull in. There is a water fountain at the entrance with a lower fountain for dogs. The restroom facility is a port-a-potty type of contraption.
Watch for snakes as you walk! We often see them on this trail.
The Kingfisher Trail is another easy, paved, wheelchair and stroller accessible loop only 1/2 mile around. It is located just off the big parking lot near the playground. This one is my favorite of the easy trails. It is fun and unique because It takes you through a bit of a swamp. There are huge, gorgeous cypress trees along this trail. It is a great place to take a walk or to let your children run off some steam. It is popular with early morning walkers and also is a great trail for bird watching. There is a large public restroom off the parking lot.
From the same parking lot as the Kingfisher Trail you can access the Base Trail. This is a walk through the woods that completely circles the mountain. It is about 3 miles and is unpaved, but mostly flat. Beware that parts of it can get muddy when there has been a lot of rain. It is a nice shady walk. Access this trail by walking across the little covered bridge as if you are going to climb the mountain via the East Summit Trail but then turn right or left at the signs before heading up!
Climbing Pinnacle Mountain
There are two ways to summit the mountain – the east summit trail and the west summit trail. They both end up at the same place and you can actually climb up one side of the mountain and down the other. Neither climb is easy, but the views are worth it!
West Summit Trail
The west summit trail is easier than the east, but still steep! It is accessed from the same parking area as the Kingfisher Trail. Cross the little covered bridge and just follow the yellow blazes up and up…and up. It is about 3/4 of a mile up and at points you will find yourself scrambling over large boulders to make your way to the top. Some people say that coming down is harder than going up and I agree! On a nice fall weekend there can be a lot of people on the trail, but that just adds to the fun.
They have divided the trail into 10ths with markers along the way to let you know how close you are getting into the top.
East Summit Trail
There is a small parking lot at the East Summit trail which can get full on a pretty day. The east summit trail is rugged. Like the west summit it is 3/4 of a mile but with an even steeper climb with fewer switchbacks and longer boulder fields. You will find yourself using both hands on the rocks to help you climb up. Follow the red and white blazes for the East Summit Trail.
The views from the top are worth the climb y’all! Take a minute and sit and enjoy the breeze. Watch for the soaring bald eagles that you can sometimes see.
If you are in good shape you can combine the base trail and the east and west summit trails. From the parking at the east summit walk around the base trail to the West Summit then climb up and over the mountain back to your car.
Rocky Valley Trail and East Quarry Trail and Arkansas River Overlook
There is another major parking area at the visitors center and from here you can access the Rocky Valley Trail, the East Quarry Trail and the RIver Overlook.
Arkansas River Overlook
There is an overlooks that is an easy walk from the parking lot up a boardwalk to a beautiful spot overlooking the Arkansas River.
Rocky Valley Trail
This trail starts at the same spot as the trail to the overlook, but goes the opposite direction. Follow the green blazes for this one. You will pass the quarry and head into a heavily wooded area. This is a 2 mile loop, unpaved, with a bit of up and down although it isn’t a difficult walk. I like to walk this hike because it feels very secluded and as if you are deep in the woods even though you really aren’t.
East Quarry Trail
This is actually just a little spur off of the Rocky Valley Trail that is about 1/2 mile. It will take you to another quarry area with pretty views of the mountain.
Ouachita National Hiking Trail
The Ouachita National Hiking Trail actually begins (or ends depending on where you start) at the Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The Ouachita Trail is 222 miles and crosses the through the Ouachita National Forest and into Oklahoma. The section that goes through Pinnacle is 2.5 miles. The Ouachita Trail is marked in blue blazes.
Mountain Bike Trails
There are two mountain bike trails in the park Rabbit Ridge and Jackfork. Rabbit Ridge is less than a mile and is for beginning bikers while Jackfork is 6.5 miles and best for intermediate mountain bikers.
This state park offers so many educational opportunities to the public. Their professional guides and interpreters offer programs in geology, botany, archeology, wildlife, and many other topics. Some of these include guided hikes, scenic lake cruises, guided kayak tours, eagle watching cruises, wildflower walks, and so much more! Check out the website or stop by the visitors center to find out what it coming up!
Hopes this helps as you plan your day at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. It is a wonderful and unique place and if you are planning a visit to Little Rock it is a great place to go to be out in nature without having to drive too far out of the city.
If you are looking something to do in Little Rock that doesn’t require a climb you might want to stop at The Esse Purse Museum.
We have a post about everything to do in Little Rock including not just outdoor activities but also museums, shopping, and restaurants!
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