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.
Rush is a former mining community that existed along the Buffalo River that was originally established for the mining of zinc ore in the mountains there. The town exists now as an old ghost town with no current residents. However, many historic sites remain with structures dating back to the 1880′s.
The Morningstar Loop is a short loop that is the best route to take to get a feel for the history of this area. The Rush Mountain Trail is a level stretch of trail that takes you by several of the old mine entrances for the area.
Morning Star Loop
(Directions for getting to the Rush Historic District are in this post.) Park at the Morning Star trailhead. It is the first parking area on the road. It is on the left, just past the row of old buildings on the right.
The Morning Star Loop is .2-mile loop that starts to the left. It first passes an old smelter that dates back to 1886. It is the oldest structure in Rush.
Rush is a really interesting and unique little area right along the Buffalo River. The community dates back to the 1880′s when mines opened as prospectors mined for zinc ore that was discovered in the mountains here. Mining in the area was at its peak during World War I when its population reached an estimated 5,000.
After the war, mining production declined due to the drop in the market demand for zinc. The mines were eventually shut down. The last post office in Rush closed in the mid-1950′s. When it was acquired as part of the Buffalo National River in 1972, it was a ghost town.
All that is left of Rush today are a few abandoned buildings, the remains of some others, and a few hiking trails that connect them all.