12.9 miles. That’s about ten percent of the drive the Arkansas Adventuregram crew usually undertakes (one way) for an outing. It’s nice though, to be able to walk out the back door on a bluebird Sunday afternoon and be immersed in pure Arkansas adventure twenty minutes later.
Twenty minutes, Deuce? I thought you lived in Central Arkansas.
Oh, you must’ve gone to Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Nope! Close though. We grabbed our trail shoes and headed just west of the old girl to Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area. http://www.naturalheritage.com/natural-areas/rattlesnake-ridge-natural-area
Rattlesnake Ridge has been described as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. This is certainly true, but it’s also a playground for some critters and plants that are very important to the The Natural State, not least of which are Wright’s Cliffbrake Fern, Southeastern Bat and the area’s namesake, the Western Diamondback Rattler. Rattlesnake Ridge is believed to be its easternmost habitat. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on one’s point of view) we did not see any Western Diamondback Rattlers, or Southeastern Bats for that matter, but we did see some Cliffbrake Ferns. Perhaps more notably we saw the Cliffbrake Trail which leads to the top of the ridge and an exquisite panoramic view of Lake Maumelle, Pinnacle Mountain and part of Little Rock.
At its peak the ridge reaches 920 feet above sea level and is attainable for most any able bodied adventurer. In addition to habitat for the aforementioned fauna it also offers innumerable photo opportunities, contemplative perches and hammock refuges.
If you are a hiker, biker, climber or general lover of the outdoors you owe it to yourself to visit Rattlesnake Ridge Natural area, but please keep a few things in mind.
What Rattlesnake Ridge is: A mixed use resource open to biking, climbing, hiking, hanging (that’s relaxin’ in a hammock for you folks over thirty), rambling, picnicking and naturing – you know, looking at the nature.
What Rattlesnake Ridge is not: A campground, state park, USFS recreation area, or big – which brings me to my next point. There is a very important sign at the entrance to the small – yes small – parking lot. I could tell you what the sign says, or I could show you.
Note the fleet of vehicles lined up behind the sign and stretching nearly to Barrett Road. Fellow adventurers, don’t do that. If you arrive at Rattlesnake Ridge and the parking lot is full please heed the admonition to visit another time. Pinnacle is a mere hop, skip and jump away, and it’s entirely possible you could go spend a little time there then return to find an available spot in the honest to goodness parking area. If not, well, I don’t know – go get some pizza or a burrito on Highway 10 then try once more. Or, if all else fails come back another day. It’s true Rattlesnake Ridge only became a natural area in 2018, but the Ouachita Mountains have been around over 300 million years. They’ll wait.
See you out there!