I think the Summit Park Trail, named for the former Summit Park Hotel (1889-1918) is one of the two best trails at Mount Nebo State Park (the other one being the Rim Trail).
The Summit Park Trail makes a 1.6-mile loop across the west side of the mountain. About one-third of it is shared with the Rim Trail. Most of the rest of it runs parallel to the Rim Trail, not far from the bench level. (For my gpx-based trail map and elevation profile, see this post.)
One of the sites to see along the trail is Fern Lake. It was built to serve as a water source for the hotel.
Twin Falls of Richland is one of the more famous waterfall areas in northwest Arkansas. I first read about this waterfall about 10 years ago in Backpacker Magazine, and I quickly added it to my must-see list.
This destination is really is worthy of the national exposure.
Twin Falls of Richland is in the Ozark National Forest’s Richland Creek Wilderness. (Trail guide author Tim Ernst uses the “Twin Falls of Richland” name because there are multiple Arkansas waterfalls with the name “Twin Falls.”)
Twin Falls is actually two different waterfalls from two different creeks — Big Devil’s Fork and Long Devil’s Fork — that merge together at this site. One of the falls is 17 feet tall. The other is 19 feet tall. They fall over into a glistening pool that is a great swimming hole.
The easiest trail head to get to is via the Richland Creek campground, and it is a spectacular hike. When coming to the area, be sure to also check out Richland Falls and many of the other beautiful areas within the Richland Creek Wilderness Area.
[This post was originally published on May 6, 2012 on the blog "Exploring Northwest Arkansas."]
Last weekend, we hiked the Richland Creek Wilderness area of the Ozark National Forest back to Richland Falls and Twin Falls of Richland.
It had been probably eight years since last hiked to this area. It was among the first hikes we did in Arkansas. We loved it then, and it was great to go back.
This area is highly regarded by national publications and by locals alike. But since it is not easy to reach, it is not as well-traveled as many areas.
The waterfalls are the highlight of the hike, but really, the hike itself is spectacular.
Getting to the Trail
Let’s talk a bit about how to get to the trail. First, let me note something about trail guides to the area. Tim Ernst, who writes all the major trail guides to the area, recommends people come into the falls from the Hill Cemetery from the north. The basis for his recommendation is: (a) it sounds like easier hiking since it mostly follows an old road, and (b) it allows the hiker to avoid wading across Richland Creek (a large creek with a lot of water).
However, Ernst notes in some of his updated guides that the road to Hill Cemetery has been unmaintained lately, and a four-wheel drive vehicle may be needed to get there.
As someone who was using an older trail book (that noted none of this), I can tell you the road to Hill Creek cemetery definitely requires the use of a four-wheel drive vehicle, and I would recommend a skilled driver. That road is narrow, steep, and in poor condition.
So instead, let’s start our hike from Richland Creek Campground. (If you would like to read about the hike from Hill Cemetery, you can read about hiker Steve Schibler’s hike at this link.)