Round Top And Soggy Bottom
I had been watching the weather closely. Forecasts called for unusually warm weather for the first part of February, specially February 2nd, Superbowl Sunday. Temperatures well above 70 were widely forecast so I called my friend Bill and asked him if he wanted to do a hike. He said sure but he wanted to be back home by 3 pm because he wanted to watch the game, and also had to work the next morning. We made plans to head out at 10 am on Sunday February 2, hike Round Top Mountain then on the way back through Jasper, stop and eat at the Ozark Cafe. We figured we could be back in Harrison by 3, giving us 5 hours for the day out.
Round Top Mountain is easily found, being just south of Jasper and quite prominent. The Newton County Resource Council got ownership of 158 acres in 1997. Since the county owned the rest of the land, it was a unique opportunity to create a park.The mountain had been the sight of a bomber crash back on February 6, 1948. The NCRC applied for and received grants from Arkansas Recreational Trails and funds from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to develop The Round Top Mountain Crash Site And Park. Opened in 2001 the park has about 4 miles of trails and is very popular. We hiked this same trail back on November 11, 2002, A Vet's Day Hike To Round Top
We started our hike at the parking lot. There were three other vehicles in the parking lot when we arrived, and a couple started out right when we did but we let them get ahead of us. We strolled along the trail up towards where the loop trail meets the trail going up to the top. We quickly removed our jackets and make our way just in t-shirts, a light breeze on our skins. We came upon an old tree, now rotting that had grown right out of a rock, and had to marvel at the incredible nature of nature. We have seen this before along the craggy bluffs of the Buffalo River. To our surprise we saw no other hikers as we made our way towards the turn that would take us up the stony stairs that leads to the top of the mountain. It was a bit of a struggle for me, but we made it to the top.
We checked the time and discovered we were behind schedule so we decided on a quick break then to walk to the south end. The trails are all well maintained here and we had no problems wandering down the trail about a half mile. The south end is ringed by a low split rail fence to remind folks its a steep drop down. Again much to our surprise there was no one there. My knee was starting to ache a bit so we spent quite a bit of time here, enjoying the sunshine and taking pictures while I rested my knee.
After resting up we made our way back to where the trails crossed. After checking the time we decided to pass on the north face and make our way back down and over to the Ozark Cafe. As we descended my knee and upper thigh began to ache quite a bit then becoming more painful as we continued down. I could see the Jeep in the parking lot when my knee suddenly quit working and I sat down, quite quickly in a puddle of mud. I sat there for a few minutes unable to stand again. I managed to get up and stumble to the truck. Once I was on flat ground I felt better, but I was soaked and my bottom was wet with mud. Bill said my back was also covered. We counted 11 vehicles in the parking lot when we returned but we only saw the one couple the entire time. I was too embarrassed to go to the cafe, so we headed home. I promised Bill we would return for our meal.
Round Top Mountain is a great day hike. You can follow the loop trail around the base or walk to the top and then out to both ends, or both! It's location is easy to get to from any direction. It is family friendly and you can bring your dog too, as long as it is on a leash. I have often been complimented on the photographs my friends and I have posted here over the years, but honestly folks, it does not compare with the real thing. I am continually amazed seeing people stare at a 4 inch screen when the big picture is right in front of their face.