Signal Hill, Mount Magazine, Arkansas 2,753 feet
Charlie Campbell [email@example.com] successfully climbed the mountain in August 1999. Work on the roads continue. The lower picture is my shot from Havana in April 1999 when I arrived late in the day.
Mount Magazine is one of the most handsome state high points and one of the most under appreciated. My own underestimation of the peak was to prove a mini-disaster.
This massive mountain is clearly identifiable from all sides, has great 40-mile views (although the actual summit itself is shrouded by trees) and is surprisingly remote and pristine. It even has its own endangered snail.
It has long been a favorite of hang gliders who jump off its sheer cliffs. In the warm weather, it is aflutter with butterflies (a butterfly festival is held the first weekend in August).
In a state known for its mountains, Mount Magazine has been overshadowed by lesser peaks. The peak which is in the Boston Mountains is caught between the state's two more famous ranges -- the Oucahita Mountains just to the south and the Ozark Mountains just to its north.
All three ranges are among the oldest in North America and are unique in that they run east-west rather than north-south. This contributes to Mt. Magazine's mesa like appearance. All of the mountains are a treasure drove for rock hounds with veins and veins of crystal quartz and the area is dotted with crystal stores. A diamond mine is just 50 miles south.
Magazine Mountain is undergoing some major changes that should increase its visibility as it becomes Arkansas's newest full fledged state park in 1999 or 2000 (the park is bordered by Ozark National Forest).
Route 309 between Havana and Paris has already been designated the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway.
My own underestimation of the mountain will mean that I will have to return to bag the true summit -- Signal Hill.
I had attempted to bag Signal Hill on the same day as I hit Louisiana's Driskill Mountain some 250 miles south.
But for good measure, I had lost day light as I zig zagged while tracking Bill Clinton from his birth place in Hope (150 miles southwest) to his boyhood home in Hot Springs (70 miles southeast). Finally I drove up Scenic Route 7 from Hot Springs, before turning on to Highway 10 to reach Havana.
As we entered the park, I was planning for the easy 1/2 mile roundtrip hike to the summit on the Signal Hill trail at dusk. I didn't worry that I didn't have any flashlights.
Then the mountain took on a whole different demeanor as the roads had been grated to almost superhighway width (even though there were no cars or signs of civilization) as part of the construction of a new park. Unattended brush fires burned on the sides.
I found no signs indicating the Signal Hill parking area. And foolishly without bothering to consult my map I decided that Signal Hill must be where the radio towers were blinking (a usually safe bet on most high points). We then set out on what amounted to a 2 1/2 mile roundtrip hike to see three towers blink and several others not blink. Bats swooped by. The spring peeper frogs peeped. The lights of Paris twinkled below. The ruins of a couple houses with commanding views looked like some strange I.M. Pei sculpture in the night. But alas there was no summit sign.
Back in the car, I circled on around and came upon the caretakers house, who I was supposed to meet. His teenage kids informed me that the trail was close by but he wasn't. Faced with a 450 mile further drive before lunch with pressing family matters, I let the mountain beat me -- having missed the summit by a quarter mile -- after having traveled nearly 400 miles to get here!
Even a drive up and short walk can be treacherous if you're not properly prepared and rested.
Write him if you want better directions (at this writing the state has not posted an official web page yet).
I like Arkansas and will enjoy going back in daylight. There is a great campground already on the summit. It is an unwritten rule that I spend a full day getting to know headline peaks. Since I tried to dismiss this mountain, I was punished.
Since Bill Clinton caused me so much
grief on this trip, I've asked him to write a trip report and send a picture
for this page. He hasn't responded yet.