Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Sugarloaf Mountain rises 690 feet above the Red River Valley, just east of the city of Heber Springs, Arkansas.  I first saw the mountain in the winter of 2002, and knew immediately I wanted to explore it!

I had that opportunity last November when a group of ladies I hike with, planned an overnight trip to hike the trails in the Heber Springs area.  This photo shows some of our group studying the trail map and visitor guidelines, that are posted at the trailhead.

There is enough regular use and maintenance of the trail, that it was easily distinguishable from the rest of the forest floor, which was covered in fallen leaves.

The trail starts to climb, right from the parking lot, as illustrated by this photo that shows our cars down below, at the beginning of the trail.

Geologists say that Sugarloaf Mountain exists, because the huge rocksat the top of the formation lie in flat layers, and thus were not eroded away like the less resistant sandstone, silt stone, and shale deposits that surrounded this Atoka formation.  It is described as an "erosional remnant", similar to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Upon reaching the top of the forested part of Sugarloaf Mountain, there are well worn paths that completely circumnavigate the massive sandstone formation at the summit.

Our group decided to stop and enjoy our lunch, before we began exploring different routes to the summit.

We made progress towards the summit by "bouldering", which just means going to progressively higher locations by crawling, climbing, or jumping---without the use of technical climbing equipment or harnesses.

Some of the routes we explored were a very tight squeeze!

The most popular routes to the top were well-worn, and free from major obstacles.

This exposed  root shows how deep a tree may have to grow, in order to get the nutrients and water it needs to stay alive.

Forestry surveys indicate that wind-stunted cedars and gnarled scrub oaks are the most prevalent trees at the summit.

We observed that someone had made a very "unstable" route to the top by pounding gigantic nails into a tall tree that extended above and beyond the top layer  No one in our group assessed this as a suitable route to attempt.

Since it is quite a climb to reach the summit, it is nice that these park benches have been placed along the  trail that circles the gigantic sandstone formation.   I am thankful to the Dr. L.C. Robbins, and his family, who worked to secure a clear title to the lands, and then leased it to the city of Heber Springs for its people to enjoy.  The Arkansas State University (  www.asub.edu/  ) became a part of this partnership in 2007, when they opened their newly-built campus in Heber Springs, at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain.  They offer an associate degree in Environmental Science, and have the benefit of this outstanding "outdoor classroom", right outside their back door!

I am using this blog post about our women's hiking group----which is never lacking in zeal and fervor----as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says, "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."  (Romans 12:11)    The wisdom I gain by studying God's Word, makes me realize the importance of MY responsibility to make healthy lifestyle choices, so I can continue to serve the Lord.  One of the most enjoyable of those healthy choices, is spending time hiking outdoors with a group of ladies known as "Women Hiking the Ozarks"!!  Our adventures give me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia