At the highest point in Arkansas, there is a park called Mount Magazine State Park. Mount Magazine is 2753 feet tall and is one of the higher isolated peaks between the Rockies and the Alleghenies. Mount Magazine gets its name from French explorers who, while traveling through the area, witnessed a landslide on the mountain. The noise from the landslide was so great that one explorer described it as the sound of an ammunition magazine exploding, hence the name “Magazine”. Mount Magazine rises dramatically above the broad valleys of the Petit Jean River to the south and the Arkansas River to its north.
There is little archaeological evidence that Native Americans lived on Mount Magazine. A few scattered projectile points indicate that they hunted big game here, but a lack of pottery and other types of artifacts seems to say they did not occupy the crest of the mountain throughout the year. Extreme winter weather probably pushed them to lower elevations. Families began settling on Mount Magazine after the Civil War. Almost every flat area was farmed. In 1900, the town of Magazine was platted on the mountain and the Skycrest Hotel was constructed on the peak’s west side. The town foundered when development ceased and hotels were neglected during the Depression. The federal government acquired the mountain in 1934 under the United States Resettlement Administration and turned it over to the U.S. Forest Service. Shortly thereafter, the Works Progress Administration began building a gravel road from Paris to Havana that stretched over the mountain. The state took over the management in 2001 and renovated almost every area.
This Park offers many adventures of backpacking, rock climbing, rappelling, hang gliding, biking, mountain biking, and an ATV trail adventure. The new, high tech sport of geocaching can be enjoyed here, too. Mount Magazine, is the state parks system’s most dramatic location for technical rock climbing. Traditional and sports climbing as well as rappelling is allowed in a designated area on the mountain’s south bluff overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley. This 1,500-foot wide stretch of sandstone boasts over 100 routes up to 80 feet high. Hang Gliding has also been a favorite pastime here at Mount Magazine State Park. Launching from the south face of the mountain, gliders can soar above the beautiful Petit Jean River Valley, with miles and miles of views to soak in.
To get to Mount Magazine State Park, you can take Highway 309 south from Paris, AR. Paris is located in north-central Arkansas about 115 miles northwest of Little Rock. The Park is about 17 miles south of town. You can pretty much just follow the signs from downtown Paris. Or if you’re coming from the south, head north on Highway 309 from Havana. It’s about 10 miles.
The park campground has 18 campsites with water, electric, and sewer hookups. The campground includes a barrier-free bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets. The Park provides an RV dump station. There are three other campgrounds here. The Cameron Bluff Campground offers 18 campsites. Each site has electric, water, and sewer hookups with a large tent pad, picnic table, upright and ground grill, light pole, and a camping area. The other 2 spots are the Brown Springs picnic area (tent camping) and the Mount Magazine Horse Camp. Mount Magazine Horse Camp has space for tents and horse trailers within the state park. Located at the entrance to the Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail and managed by the USDA Forest Service, this site provides a great starting point to explore the 34-mile trail system. The park includes a 60-room lodge with a swimming pool, restaurant, and bar. The park also includes 13 cabins, one to three bedrooms/bathrooms, and all are ADA-compliant. Dog-friendly options are available in three cabins, but there is an extra fee. All cabin kitchens are fully equipped, and the cabins also feature clothes washer/dryer, decks overlooking the countryside and hot tubs.
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Paris,%20Arkansas there are 9 free campsites located within 33 miles of Paris, Arkansas.
—-Hiking & Biking & Horseback Riding—-
Mount Magazine State Park offers a variety of Arkansas hiking and outdoor adventure activities. Hikers can take a hike on the Signal Hill Trail, or the Greenfield, Benefield, Mossback Ridge, or Will Apple’s Road Trails and explore the many natural and historical resources of the mountain. Park trails vary in length from .5 to 2.8 miles. The total trails system in the park is 14.2 miles. In addition, the park trails link to the USDA Forest Service’s 9.7-mile Cove Lake Trail and 34-mile Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail that lead into the adjacent Ozark National Forest. The Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail is the park’s only multi-use trail. Here ATV’s, hikers, bikers, and horse riders can follow the trail to the park boundary and continue into the national forest for 34 miles of some of the most scenic and rugged landscape in Arkansas. Signal Hill Trail is the trail that actually gets you to the highest point in Arkansas. When you get to the top, congratulate yourself on getting there, and take a look at Highpoint Monument. It’s a 400-square foot rock display in the shape of the state of Arkansas. It has different types of rock depicting the state’s 6 natural divisions. It’s a pretty cool display.
—-Things to Do—-
The A & M railroad goes through this area and offers you an opportunity to travel in the style of a bygone era. You can still enjoy the leisurely elegance of real train travel through the mountains and valleys of Northwest Arkansas. Over trestles with views for miles and through a quarter mile tunnel, you can journey into the historic Arkansas River Basin. The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad is one of the few commercial lines left in the United States that operates both freight and passenger service. All of our passengers travel the regular working rails in refurbished antique passenger or parlor coaches.