The trip north through Little Rock took us into the Ozark Mountains from the Arkansas River Valley. The terrain quickly went from the flat floodplain to the hills and mountains of the southern Ozarks. The trip itself was only 1.5 hours, about an hour of which was along the Interstate and four lane US 64, so it went by very quickly. Our destination was another COE campground, John F. Kennedy Campground, located just below the Greers Ferry Dam on the Little Red River. The name surprised us until we learned that President John F. Kennedy dedicated the completion of the dam just a few months before his assassination in 1964. In fact, it was his last public event before the trip to Texas. The campground is very nice strung out along the bank of the Little Red River. Our campsite backed up to the low bluff overlooking the river, which unfortunately we could not see very well due to the trees and brush in the way. However, it was still a very nice spot in a quiet campground until the weekend when it literally filled up and became very busy.
On Tuesday we drove over to the COE Visitor Center on the other side of the dam. There we found information about a number of hiking trails in the area that we could choose from ranging from easy to challenging. Not being all that interested in climbing up to the top of Round Mountain, we choose to explore the Mossy Bluff trail at the Visitor Center. It is a 1.5 mile trail travels just below the bluff overlooking the Little Red River below the dam. It was suppose to be an easy trail that could be made into a loop by traveling one way along the paved road at the top of the bluff. The volunteers at the Visitor Center recommended starting out on the road to avoid climbing up the nearly 100 steps to get above the bluff at the dam overlook. I am not sure this was such a good idea, since the hike along the road was 2 miles long with some serious up and down hill sections. By the time we got to the overlook, we were both ready to call it a day. However, after taking some pictures of the dam, we headed down the steps to the bluff trail. As advertised this trail was fairly level all of the way back to the Visitor Center and had some really great views of the Little Red River over 100 feet below us. They also had a nice brochure giving information at over 20 marked stops. Unfortunately, nearly half of these stops were missing and it was too early in the spring for most of the plants being pointed out. Still it was a good hike on a beautiful spring day in the Arkansas Ozarks.
Wednesday was spent doing laundry and cleaning up the RV with rain in the evening and most of the day on Thursday, which we also spent in the campgrounds. The weather on Friday was great so we headed north to Mountain View, Arkansas to check out the Ozark Folk Center State Park. This was actually a repeat for us, as we visited the park over 10 years ago on a trip with my sister. I remembered quite a bit about that visit, especially the wooden broom we bought and are still using in the RV. If you are interested in the arts and crafts of the Ozarks, then you must visit this park. It consists of over 20 artisans working in a picturesque setting. Each artisan has their own workshop or area to demonstrate their craft. We visited with the artisans in each shop and had a great time. I am not sure I can name all of them, however, I know they included an apothecary, blacksmith, painter, leatherworking, glassworking, toy making, brooms, candles, pottery, carving, and others. They also have local music performances throughout the day and we enjoyed listening to the band of 4 musicians performing traditional mountain music. While I don’t generally enjoy shopping, this was totally different as we spent more time talking with the artisans about their craft and lifestyle.
Saturday was another nice day with occasional light showers, so I decided to explore the disc golf course over by the Visitor Center. I have played a number of courses over the years and this course is one of the best I have ever played. They have put a lot of effort in designing and maintaining the course. It starts out in a young pine plantation where they have created grassy fairways by clearing out some of the trees. It then winds uphill through a mature pine/hardwood forest where they even have moved the rocks out of the fairway to line the course. The even had one hole that was completely lined with rocks on both sides and all around the cage, which they called “the island”. You slowly climb the hill and then after a couple of holes on the top you start back down. This is done quickly with a couple of short fairways where a good tee shot could easily be birdied, which I actually did on one hole. Except for the one hole that went across a small pond, the course is not very technical, but still there are plenty of trees to hit on either side of the fairways. While I hit fewer of these trees then is normal for me, I still hit a fair number of them. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful course.
Sunday was spent relaxing the campground as all the campers once again cleared out turning the campgrounds back into a quiet place.