The wild and scenic beauty of White Rock Mountain

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White Rock Mountain
White Rock Mountain

If you stand on the edge of the rocky outcropping of White Rock Mountain, the most prominent impression of the view is its vastness. Expansive rolling hills stack upon each other like unending waves of the sea.

Yet, this wild and scenic beauty is just over an hour from urban centers such as the college town of Fayetteville in Northwest Arkansas. Driving to White Rock Mountain is half the fun as the terrain quickly transforms from the hustle and bustle of city life to pastoral farmlands to rugged, wooded mountains. Reaching the pinnacle means driving a maze of dirt roads enveloped by trees that give way to glimpses of the reward that awaits your steady climb.

White Rock Mountain is 2,309 feet above sea level. Closer inspection of the precipice reveals lichen on the sheer bluffs that make them appear white from a distance, hence the mountain’s name.Lichen covered rock outcropping in the foreground with a sea of green forest in the background is the view from White Rock Mountain in Northwest Arkansas.

Part of the mountain’s appeal is simply feeling lost in nature. Off the grid. Disconnected from modern conveniences and connected to the wild. Recreational fun includes Ozark National Forest hiking trails, fishing and boating at Shores Lake, whitewater rafting or canoeing on the nearby Mulberry River and wildlife watching. Finding waterfalls along trails in the spring and viewing autumn leaves in the fall are popular activities as well.

Atop the mountain is the 1.8-mile Rim Trail loop, the 17.5-mile Shores Lake Loop Trail and the West Trail, which is actually part of the Shores Lake trail. The 270-mile Ozark Highlands Trail, which begins in Fort Smith and travels through the highlands of the Ozark National Forest, can also be accessed here.The view toward Fort Smith, Arkansas from the top of White Rock Mountain.

There is ample parking for day use and overnight treks with a nominal parking fee per vehicle. Register at the brown and white office building. Here you can also pick up some basic provisions of food and drink or purchase a T-shirt.

It’s also where you check in if you’ve rented the lodge, a cabin or campground site. The lodge with three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms sleeps 16. Two of the three cabins sleep six and the third cabin sleeps four. All have recently been renovated with upgrades in electricity, plumbing, water filtration system, mattresses, furniture and decor.  The kitchens are fully equipped but linens are not provided. Neither is charcoal for the grill. There is a wood stove for heating, but no air conditioning.

The living room of a cabin at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
The living room of a cabin at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
The kitchen of a cabin at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
The kitchen of a cabin at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
Inside the general store on White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
Inside the general store on White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
The general store and office at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
The general store and office at White Rock Mountain in Arkansas

There are nine sites in the campground with more being added, plus two glamping huts, which are especially popular with OHT hikers. The easily accessible shaded campsites have tent pads, fire rings, grills, picnic tables, two water sources, and parking at each site. There is a clean vault toilet. Small RVs or pop-up campers can be accommodated at a few sites. The campground also continues to receive upgrades.

Getting There:

Enter White Rock Mountain Recreation Area into Google Maps only and choose a suggested route. For more information, call 479-369-4128. For lodging reservations, visit recreation.gov.A map of hiking trails on White Rock Mountain in Arkansas

The entrance to White Rock Mountain in Arkansas
The entrance to White Rock Mountain in Arkansas