While heading through Little Rock, Arkansas, you may decide to climb Pinnacle Mountain. This Arkansas State Park is fun and free, but climbing the rocky summit trails can be a bit of a challenge. Pinnacle Mountain is just over 1,000 feet high, which is relatively small as far as mountains go. However, it’s a great place to get some climbing experience, and this is how you get to the top of Pinnacle Mountain.
Pinnacle Mountain almost resembles a pyramid from its west side during winter. Once you hit the trails it becomes a completely different place. The winter can be a great time to climb this mountain because more views will be available through the trees. We have climbed the mountain from each side during opposing seasons. Pics and details of each hike are explained in this article.
Climbing Pinnacle Mountain (Video)
This is a video of our second hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. We began the climb from West Summit Trail, on a cold Christmas Eve morning. The summit trails are dog friendly, and my girl was excited to reach the top. In fact, this is the highest she has climbed so far. It’s a short workout, but well worth the effort.
How to Get to Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Address: 9420 AR-300, Roland, AR 72135
Hours of operation: This state park opens at 6:30am and closes one hour after sunset
Without specific mountain climbing experience, it’s probably better to start with a small mountain, rather than trying to run up a stratovolcano like Mount Rainier in Washington. Pinnacle Mountain is the perfect size to gain such experience. Its height is much easier to conquer within one hour. There are only two trails which lead to the top of Pinnacle Mountain – East Summit Trail and West Summit Trail.
Each summit trail is about the same distance, but the East Summit Trail is supposedly more challenging. This may be the reason the West Summit Trail is known as one of the most used trails in Arkansas. However, each side is somewhat steep and ridden with boulders. East Summit Trail begins more gradual, but may be steeper near the peak. Your total round trip distance will be about 1.5 miles, which is a short hike, but the mountain should be a nice workout.
Things to Do at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, AR
- Walk your dog
- Stop at the visitors center
- Access public restrooms
- Hike or bike along 15 miles of trails
- Canoe on the river
- Bring your kids to the playground
- Use the pavilions
- Visit the arboretum
- Climb Pinnacle Mountain
At this Arkansas State Park you can hike 15 miles with your dog, and climb to the top of Pinnacle Mountain. You can also mountain bike, or canoe along the Maumelle. Kids may enjoy the playground or the trails, but be careful climbing the mountain because there are large boulders to maneuver. Several kids were climbing to the top from West Summit Trail on our return hike.
West Summit Trail
We did not have time to hike 15 miles of natural trails during either visit. This visit took place on a cold morning in the winter, which was quite a change from our hot and humid summer visit. As you can see, the trailhead is clearly marked and there is a dog friendly water fountain. Beyond the canopy the trail begins with stairs. I hope you enjoy stairs because you cannot escape them on Pinnacle Mountain.
The trail map in not necessary if you are simply hiking the summit trails. The West Summit Trail is marked with yellow paint, whereas the East Summit Trail is colored red/white. You will notice the paint on the trees as well as the rocks. Like most steep trails, it has many switchbacks running through the trees. Your heart rate will increase and you may begin to sweat as the mountain tests your endurance. Once you reach the larger boulders you will have the option to ascend directly to the top.
East Summit Trail
East Summit Trail begins much like many other hiking trails. The trailhead from the parking area leads into the forest. Although it felt damp and humid, it was not very muddy because the rain was merely a mist. The precipitation was not strong enough to break through the trees and reach the trail. Sweating began well before reaching the summit due to the humidity. No cooling effect was noticeable even though I was sweating and getting wet.
The trail through the forest twists this way and turns that way while inclining slightly. It was not a wide trail, but we did not cross paths with too many other hikers on the East Summit Trail. Eventually, the trail seems to disappear after about half a mile. At this point, there is not much distance left to climb so pay attention to the red and white markings. The final part of the trail is the most difficult as you ascend the boulders.
Climbing Rocks on Top of Pinnacle Mountain
The boulders near the top of West Summit Trail are sharp and jagged. They are marked with yellow paint, making it fairly easy to spot the route. However, there is also a way to bypass most of them by following the switchbacks. We chose to head straight up the boulders and return via the switchback trails.
The cold wind was picking up as we approached the top of Pinnacle Mountain. We hiked across the boulders to the side of the mountain until we had a good view of Little Rock, Arkansas. From there, we climbed the rocky ridge which can be seen from the entrance road. As I looked down I saw many birds of prey circling the trees below. Continuing toward the peak, I reached out with my hands to help stabilize myself because of the fierce winds. I bet my dog loved seeing that move! She was climbing like a champ as usual.
Along East Summit Trail, the boulders had become wet from the summer mist. Carefully, I hiked up the wet rocks and noticed that slipping off the side would not be a good option. The sides become dangerously steep as you get very close to the top of the mountain. All that can be seen during the summer months are rocks and trees.
Of course, it didn’t help that the sky was full of mist and clouds. I continued up the rocks, cautiously using my hands when necessary. The larger rocks are much less likely to move underneath bodyweight, but there is always risk. I often enjoy hiking a trail in multiple seasons. The surroundings in places like this look so different. The photos show some of the differences, but you must be there is person to absorb the contrast of the seasons.
Pinnacle Mountain is Moderately Challenging
Suddenly, the rocky slope levels off as you reach the pinnacle from either trail. Trail markers are noticeable on top, but it may seem like the nature trail ends back where the boulders emerge. There are two routes to the top of Pinnacle Mountain. East Summit Trail is very green and full of life in the summer. Although, it can also be damp and muggy, encouraging bugs to swarm. West Summit Trail begins with a climb and does not get any easier. There are great scenic views and much to see during the winter, but it does get cold and windy.
Look around at the world from the top of Pinnacle Mountain. The weather may be dreary or clear, but there is much to be seen from this viewpoint. It is moderately challenging to reach the pinnacle of the mountain. The views will be worth it. I love visiting this state park in Arkansas. Hopefully, we will have time to explore more of the park in the future. For now, I’m content conquering the mountain with my dog.
Unfortunately, you will have little-to-no control over the weather, which can add to the difficulty of this hike. It’s a lot of fun climbing Pinnacle Mountain, and the weather has increased the challenge for us. Appropriate footwear is necessary on the mountain, which is more difficult to hike than most nature trails. It’s important to watch your footing because it is easier to twist an ankle while walking on rocks. If you are hiking with your dog, make sure he is capable and using the most appropriate path to the top.
How Long Does It Take to Climb Pinnacle Mountain?
20 minutes had passed by the time we reached the top of Pinnacle Mountain. Honestly, my dog looked like she was just getting warmed up! Due to the leash, she was being held back because dogs can climb rocks much faster than humans. Yes, it would be nice to let her roam off-leash, but the park has mandatory leash rules. However, those do not seem to apply to some people.
We treaded back down the mountain using as many switchback trails as possible. Rocks and steps continue to litter the path, but the descent is much easier. Kids were heading to the top along West Summit Trail, and a few other dogs were making the climb as well. That is always great to see. As we came back through the trailhead, the dog friendly water fountain was dry. Better luck next time. The total round trip hike took us 40 minutes, including the time we spent on top of Pinnacle Mountain.
Although mountain biking is allowed, we did not notice anyone on bikes. Canoeing is also an option, but we did not get close enough to the river. Our hikes at Pinnacle Mountain were only 40 minutes long, and it seems like an excellent place to practice climbing. We will definitely return to Pinnacle Mountain State Park whenever we are in the vicinity of Little Rock, Arkansas. This is an awesome park near a great city, and we cannot wait to experience the rest of its amenities.
Until Next Time in Little Rock
Prior to reaching the top of Pinnacle Mountain, I had no mountain climbing experience. Climbing Enchanted Rock in Texas, which is only a 40-story climb, was the highest point I had reached. I even performed a speed-run at Enchanted Rock to see how fast I could reach the top. Pinnacle Mountain is more difficult to climb. However, I imagine the top could be reached in 15 minutes.
Since our initial visit to Pinnacle Mountain State Park, we have also experienced mountains in Texas. The Chisos Mountains are one of the best attractions at Big Bend National Park, where we hiked to the highest point. Big Bend has many mountains and many things to do, but reaching the highest point, Emory Peak, was the number one task on my list.
Perhaps I may return to speed-run Pinnacle Mountain one day. In fact, I wonder how fast I could climb the mountain? Mountains are wonderful things and I look forward to climbing higher. Have you visited this state park? Let us know which route you took, and post a photo of your adventure, especially if you hike with your dog(s).
I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.
We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.
Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.