My last post told a tale of a long sweaty hike up North Mountain and a leisurely jaunt on a flat greenways trail. Today I’ll describe the hiking at Lake Catherine State Park and West Mountain in the Hot Springs National Park, mostly through the use of photographs as it’s late and I’m not my most inspired.

Lake Catherine State Park

Wednesday morning dawned 60 degrees and beautifully clear. By 8:30 we started the half hour drive to the park.

The geography of the region (low mountain ranges and the long, looping Ouachita (Wah-CHEE-tah) River) means that you can’t always get there from here — at least, not directly. It was a gorgeous day for a drive, so we turned on SiriusXM and rolled down the windows.

There’s only one way in, and one way out — Hwy 171 dead ends within the park.

The park includes a large campground, spread over several loops. Overall the park was very clean and well maintained. Roads and trails were clearly marked, with frequent color blazes along the trails to ensure you stayed on the path. The main trailhead is just off Loop #4, I think, of the campground.

We took the Red trail — the “easy one.” Hahahaha!

I took several photos of the trail but they don’t convey the trickiness of the terrain. Tree roots and rocks were perpetual tripping hazards. Switchbacks and steep inclines and declines kept me on my toes – literally. Erosion had worn away the path in some places to just a foot wide. We’ll focus on the pretty pics.

Elvis is starting to get into the hang of this modeling gig. Still working on the expression. 
Example of the erosion over time. That tree root is now about 8″ above the forest floor. 
Huge bracket fungi on this downed tree. 
The second half of the trail ran alongside the river. Elvis got his feet wet several times. 
Elvis was NOT thrilled about this swinging bridge. We crossed several times (with treats) to get him used to the motion. 
The payoff! The waterfall is only about 9 feet high in total, but it makes a beautiful pool. I spotted other photos on the web showing the runoff much stronger, and the channel and pool deep enough to kayak into. 
The river empties out into this channel. I could hear the power plant across the lake. 
An example of the campsites at Lake Catherine – spacious and peaceful, but not necessarily level. We spoke to friends staying there, and the “hum” from the power plant is audible from all sites.

West Mountain, Hot Springs National Park

No waterfalls or critters on this hike. But loads of sunshine, birdsong, leaf-lined paths and a few curiosities.

West Mountain, like North Mountain, is just off — well, above — downtown. The trails have not suffered from erosion, despite there being few runoff channels. They were broad and flat — but, once again, I somehow managed to choose the direction of travel which maximized the incline. *sigh*

Not the best view, but it was cool being above the city. 
Men’s hiking boots placed carefully at the side of the trail. A memorial to a fallen hiker? A prank?
Elvis scrambled up this ten foot outcropping at the summit without any encouragement. What have I created??
There’s my cute little Juke. In the distance the Hot Springs Mountain Tower is visible on the North Mountain peak. We didn’t take the ride to the top on this trip. Next time!

We leave the area on Saturday, so I think that wraps up our hiking in Hot Springs.

I’m really pleased with how well Elvis has behaved himself on the trails. He’s a stinker sometimes, but he does want to please and he gives me someone to talk to.  😉

Next stop: Crossville, Tennessee for the HDT East Coast Rally!