The Pedestal Rocks Hiking Trail is located in the Ozark National Forest, just a few miles south of the Newton/Pope county line in northern Arkansas. It derives its name from the unique formations (one is pictured in this photo) called pedestals, that were formed by weathering. This area used to be under water, and after the water receded, the land raised to form a dome called the Ozark Plateau. Since then, natural erosion has been occurring to form the steep hills, valleys, and bluffs that are the signature scenery of the area.
The trail is within an area of the Ozark National Forest, designated as the Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area. Besides the 2.2 mile Pedestal Rocks Trail, there is also the Kings Bluff Trail, which is 1.7 miles long.
To get to the rock formations, one hikes a trail through the woods, that will take you to the edge of the mountain. Although I had visited this trail in the past, this was the first time to make the trek with WHO (Women Hiking the Ozarks). I was eager for a return visit because the last time I was there, the camera I was using was a compact, Nikon film camera that quit working midway through the hike!! This time, to avoid such a "photographic catastrophe", I took TWO cameras with me (digital, of course), with plenty of battery back up power!
As with any outdoor activity, safety should be a top consideration. These warning signs put up by the forest service are a reminder to visitors that a trail such as this requires close supervision of youngsters.
Of course, youngsters are not the only ones who need to be careful near the edge of tall bluffs. This hiker is wisely lowering her center of gravity, as she intently photographs the scenery at the base of the bluff. While attending one of his photography workshops, I once heard well-known photographer/author Tim Earnst say that he sometimes tied himself to a substantial tree, so that he could do a 180 degree lean over a bluff, to get just the perfect photograph!
One theory on the origin of the word "Ozarks" is that it is an Anglicized version of the words aux arcs , which means "land of the arches". This natural arch I came across on the lower bluff trail is an excellent example of such an arch.
The reason you can only see the top half of my torso in this photo is because the bottom half is down inside a large depression of the rock surface. Sometimes these rock depressions are so weathered through erosion, that they go completely through the top of the rock, opening up to the valley floor, several feet below.
That was the case for this "hole in the rock surface" that had been surrounded by a protective stone/split rail fence.
Many of the hiking trails in the Ozark National Forest were originally constructed by the WPA (Work Projects Administration) and CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) . These were public work relief programs from 1933 - 1942 in the U.S. for men between 18 and 25. Since my son's paternal grandfather had been a part of this program, it made me have a greater appreciation for the CCC-style stone masonry that could be found along the trail. This photo shows one of the bluffs with such a railing that might have even been worked on by him!
Being out in this beautiful area on such a gorgeous winter day, made me give thanks to God for the beauty of his creation, both in the surrounding countryside, and in his creation of the human body that carries us outdoors to see that creation! Being able to enjoy a hike such as this is one reason I promote participation in First Place 4 Health (www.FirstPlace4Health.com) , because it gives you the tools you need to be a good steward of the body we have each been given! One thing we do in First Place 4 Health to keep our mental health functioning well is Scripture memorization. The memory verse that came to mind when I was inside the rock house, looking out onto one of the tall rock formations was from Proverbs 18:10 that says "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." Before you run right out to see the towers at Pedestal Rocks, log onto www.fs.usda.gov to get driving directions, safety tips, and trail maps to make your expeditions a truly memorable one! Miles of smiles! Tricia