The new lodge is coming together

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      [Ed: Imported from Americas Roof ‘Summit Trip Reports’ forum]
      [By: Mark James Mullins on July 30 2005 at 5:43 AM]

      Mount Magazine was my first HP and still is my favorite, so naturally I visit it often and always sign the register. As of this post, I live under 40 air miles from it in Russellville, about an hour-plus drive from the trailhead. I first visited the highpoint of my state back in the early 90’s when Magazine’s trails were rough, slippage was more common, and tree markings kept you on the narrow path. A business card I noticed from a California tour group left at the trailhead registration box (now at the HP) was my first introduction to highpointers as a group. There are three trails to the HP from the paved road which encircles Signal Hill. Each trail is about a half-mile long with an elevation change around 170′. Depending on the time of year, you’ll encounter many plant species, many that may be blooming or prevalent should be noted on the Signal Hill (south trail) trailhead bulletin board as these are regularly updated. The summit is heavily forested, so winter happens to be my favorite season to visit with no leaves and a much easier view, including the nearby tower farm on Electronic Drive. Keep in mind during winter it can snow several inches in the park, yet the nearby valleys may get little to no frozen precipitation, and the south Signal Mountain trail can retain traces of snow even weeks after the rest of the area has melted off. That can be a real photo op, but a slippery trek.
      The times have really changed and the State of Arkansas in partnership with the USFS have made superb improvements to the trails and HP itself with the large stone 13′ long Arkansas map dedicated in 2003, and is presently building an awesome lodge to replace the original which burned down in 1971. Fire protection was the primary concern to keep another from being built. With that resolved, the new lodge will be the largest in the state system and loftiest around 2600′ with 60 rooms, each with a southern view into nearby Yell County, and trail access to the HP is nearby. (Rich Mountain’s Queen Wilhemina lodge, another State Park run facility near Arkansas’ second-highest point in Polk County WNW of Mena is near 2550′ according to my GPS, and is definitely worth a visit when their buffet is open, call them in advance for availability. Presently, they have the highest-elevated restaurant and lodge in the state with enjoyable views, particularly in autumn.)
      There are many campsites in the park, and HP’ers wanting to camp may call the Mount Magazine Park Office at 479-963-8502 to get more info. For those who have visited before, I’m sure you’ll agree Don and his staff have put a lot of effort into the park thus far, but the best is yet to come. Finally, don’t forget the annual Butterfly Festival usually held in June. (contact the Park for next dates) Even if you miss the event, if you happen to visit the HP during the hottest part of summer during late July and into August, you should notice large numbers of different butterfly species close to and at the summit, with many wildflowers that the Mountain’s elevated microclimate help to thrive. Don’t forget to bring along your camera!
      As long as I live in the region, I intend to facilitate highpointers in this forum with communication received from the park, either from Don or Ranger Doug, especially such that concerns access to the HP atop Signal Hill or the time the new lodge is completed and ready for dedication, so far expected in Spring 2006. I intend to make highpointer conferences as I have time and resources and am proud to serve as Arkansas Liaison. If you want to write, e-mail is usually checked daily: cxdomains at yahoo dot com.
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