The Bear Cave Trail at Petit Jean State Park is a very short trail — only about a quarter-mile long. In fact, it really is not so much a trail as it is a spectacular place to walk around and explore. There is a lot to see in this small area.
The Bear Cave Trail trailhead is on Highway 154, one mile west of Mather Lodge. The trail starts at the back of the parking area.
Since winter snow is relatively infrequent in much of Arkansas (although we have had more than average this winter), I get excited about the chance to go out walking on a trail in the snow or just to get the chance to take pictures of the woods with a layer of freshly fallen snow.
One great opportunity for this I had was back on February 8 when I hiked the Benefield East Loop Trail at Mount Magazine. There were several inches of snow on the ground and a layer of ice in many places under that.
In this post, I have more photos from my hike. (Click photo for larger view.) These were all taken on the mostly bluff line part of the loop that is south of Highway 309. It is probably the most scenic part of the trail.
Last weekend, I got to do some snow hiking at Mount Magazine State Park. I was pretty excited because we don’t get all that many opportunities for snow hiking here in Arkansas.
I picked the 1-mile Benefield East Loop Trail because it is fairly short yet it has some awesome views. Unfortunately, there weren’t any scenic vista views because of fog conditions up on the mountain. But it was still a really cool hike. (And I got to try out my new heavy-duty Columbia Omni-Heat winter gloves.)
I started at the Benefield picnic area trailhead and hiked it clockwise.
There was about 3 inches of snow in most places on the trail with a half-inch of ice under that. It made the rocks on the downhill parts of the trail fairly slippery. (I only completely fell once though.) Navigating through the snow-and-ice-laden branches took extra work on some parts of the trail.
Hideout Hollow is an interesting little trail in the Buffalo River Upper District. It features some beautiful views, and ends in a great bluff and waterfall area. While this isn’t one of the more popular Buffalo River trails, there’s definitely a lot to see and enjoy on this short trail.
How to Get to Hideout Hollow Trail
The trail starts at the Shermerhorn Trailhead in the Compton area. To get there, go to the community of Compton, about 5 miles north of Ponca on Highway 43. Turn onto the dirt road at the Compton Trailhead sign. (This road is County Road 19. If you have a four-wheel drive, it will eventually lead to Erbie. You won’t need a four-wheel drive to get to this trailhead though.)
You will come to a sign directing you to the right for the Compton Trailhead. Keep going straight.
At about 3.5 miles from the highway (the road will narrow, so it will seem longer), you will see a “Shermerhorn trailhead” sign on your left. Park in the parking area.
The trail begins behind the sign.
The Hideout Hollow Trail
The first part of the trail isn’t terribly scenic. It heads downhill a bit (the trail is pretty rocky here), and it crosses a couple of small, mostly dry, streams.
It heads back uphill and then through a group of pine trees.
At about 3/4 of a mile, the trail begins to get really interesting.