Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hot Springs NP Peak Trail

Peak Trail
Hot Springs National Park
Trailhead Elevation: 618 ft.
Summit Elevation: 1,041 ft.
Distance: 1.28 mi. (roundtrip) (my GPS)
Elevation Gain: 476 ft. (my GPS)

Start Time: 1:30pm
Top Time: 1:48pm (26 mins on top)
End Time: 2:28pm

Trip Report:

We started off in front of the Arlington Resort Hotel. This seemed to be the easiest access to the Peak Trail. Sarah and Mom dropped Dad, myself and the 3 boys off there to go for the hike. We went across the street into the little park. We found the elevated walkways that make up the Tufa Terrace Trail to hike up to the Grand Promenade. There we encountered a sloped grassy park and could see various pathways that headed up to the roadway. We veered south and made the road, and about 100 feet up the road could see a trail. It turned out to be the begin of the Peak Trail, or at least one of the beginnings. We would find there was another beginning perhaps a 1/10 of a mile north up the road. Both head to the same spot.  

From there the Peak Trail was a nice forest trail of a decent grade heading up the hill. It intersected the Honeysuckle Trail and there was decent signage here to make sure you stayed on the right trail. When it intersected the road again later on we also found a signed cutoff to join the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. If we had had time I would have liked to hike that 1.7 mile loop trail which had comments about good views on it.  

The navigating seems to have been most challenging in just getting started down below, while once on the trails the signage helped out just enough. After crossing the road we headed up hill and the trail eventually dead ended at the base of the tower. This also counts as the summit of Hot Springs Mountain (1,040 ft.). We walked around the tower to the entrance side and decided to get tickets to head to the top. They gave us a nice group rate of $12 otherwise we could have easily been charged $25.  

We decided to walk the stairs to the top. This was a haul but we made it. There was an enclosed viewing area with various museum like information and a running video on Bill Clinton. We then found another set of stairs heading up to a caged but open viewing area on the next level. We spent perhaps 15-20 minutes on top of the tower and then it was time to head down.  


Going down the boys made quick work jogging out ahead on the trail. When we hit the junction just above the road lower down we took the alternate beginning to the Peak Trail which you can see on my GPX. We ended up down back at the initial park at 2:28pm with two minutes to spare before our meeting time. A very nice trail once we got started on it. It appears the other trails in the area would be very nice to link together for a great day's hiking. The research I've done on the Sunset Trail also makes it appear to be a wonderful hike and it gets you to the top of the 1400 foot Western Mountain.

I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk). 

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