Watching the sunrise as I am headed to Arkansas to hike is a perfect beginning to the day for me. Redding/Spy Rock Loop was on the radar this day! I was mildly nervous about this hike, as I had not trekked more than 5 miles at a time, as of late. All the information that I could gather promised for this hike to be greater than 8 miles, if it was to include the spur (a short branch off the regular trail) to Spy Rock.
There are a couple different options, as to where to begin your hike. I chose to start from the trailhead that is actually in Redding Recreation Area and Campground. While there is a $3 day use charge, I found it to be more than worth it, as there is a nice bathroom for before and after hike use. It should be noted that the day I went was during the week and during the winter. I don’t know what the parking situation is during weekend and peak season, as this is a very nice campground. This trailhead is across the road from the restrooms.
The trail will take you approximately 0.5 miles before having to go left (west side) or right (east side). I chose to go right as this side is a bit longer (about 0.5 miles) to Spy Rock, and I like to get the hardest part out of the way right up front, when possible. After completing the loop, I believe it is 6 in one, half a dozen in the other which side to go up first, as they are about the same. Perhaps the time of day and positioning of the sun might help one make their decision, especially if lighting for photography is important.
The most interesting parts of the east side trail are the two waterfalls. It is a bit of a challenge to get up close to the falls so I opted to enjoy them from a distance. This picture was taken with a small zoom lens that attaches to my cell phone. There wasn’t just a gushing flow of water so I am guessing both falls dry up during the hottest months of the year.
Either side you choose to go up, you will have a steady climb. About 2 miles in, on the east side, the trail levels out for about a mile. The first fall can be seen at 2.25 miles and the second fall can be seen at 3.25. When you get to about 3.7 miles, you will see this marker. At this point you can continue down the west side and back to the trailhead, but then you would miss the best part; Spy Rock! Be strong! Take the 0.5 mile spur to a fantastic view! This is a great place to actually set up camp! It would be awesome to wake up to this view first thing in the morning. As a side note, if you are hiking with dogs, be sure to have leash(es) on if your dog(s)
do not have a fantastic recall. It would be very easy for a dog to go right on over the edge. Bonnie is my wild child and was on a leash most of the time up here.
After taking as much time as needed to put this beautiful view to memory, begin your trek down, which will be about 4 miles from Spy Rock, down the west side trail, to the trailhead.
While the waterfalls were nice, and the anticipation of the summit was fun on the hike up, I do believe that the views from the west side are prettier. You can also see Spy Rock from the west side trail. Perhaps if seeing where you are headed is motivating to you, you might want to come up the west side. I cannot honestly say which side would be more difficult or “better”. They each are equally fairly easy to traverse. The entire trail has some rocky areas, and I did use my pole a few times. With that said, the trail is very well maintained and I would rate this trail as moderate to hard, with the hard part only being because it is an 8+ mile hike either way you go, if you want to see Spy Rock.
This hike is a great day hike if you are up to 8+ miles in one outing. I can also picture how awesome it would be to have breakfast and the morning’s first cup of coffee while looking off of Spy Rock. When you get back down to the campgrounds, and if it is warm enough, you could take a dip in the Mulberry River!
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