Traildogs are often asked, “Why do you build trails?” We answered that question last Monday, as four seasoned Traildogs – Robert & Georgia Cavanaugh and Gail & Jerry Shields – joined Montgomery County’ s 4-H’ers, lead by County Agent Brad McGinly, at the very popular U.S. Forest Day Use recreation area atop Hickory Nut Mountain for a hike on the LOViT Trail and an old fashioned wiener roast.
A terrific group of 4-H’ers and parents on Hickory Nut Mountain
With spring leaf-out still a few weeks away, the views of Lake Ouachita from the picnic area were inspiring to all who attended. The weather was typical for mid-March, with sunny skies and a light wind, which seemed to further lift the high spirits of the children who were intrigued to be on top of a mountain. The moms and dads who came along remarked that it been a while since they had visited this popular gathering spot and were pleased to find that trails had been added to enhance the use of the area.
Looking for Bear Dens
Unfortunately the picnic area was not in good repair, with the tables in a sad state of decay and a great deal of rubbish left by uncaring users who felt breaking all their bottles and leaving the broken glass strewn all around the area was appropriate behavior. The Traildogs assisted county Agent Brad in cleaning up the area before the group arrived so the excited children would not fall on any of the glass. Since there are no established fire rings, two makeshift fire rings were built to hold roasting fires to cook hot dogs after the hike.
Most of the children were preschool or in very early elementary school and were having a grand time checking for earth worms under the leaves, throwing small stones down the mountain, and just generally having a great time while waiting for everyone to arrive for the hike. The Traildogs explained to the group how the the U.S. Forest Service , U.S. Corps of Engineers, and the LOViT Traildogs had spent the last eight years building the trail to open up the forest surrounding the lake for young and old to enjoy the beauty of nature.
4-H’ers Hiking on Hickory Nut Mountain
The large group of over fifty hikers then followed the Traildogs to an old bear den located beneath a large boulder protruding out over the north slope of the mountainside at the west end of the recreation area. Wide eyed, the little ones scrambled down the slope, anxious to be the first to see the den. While a group peered into the tight hole to see if a bear was really there, one of the Traildogs let out a roar, which brought squeals and scrambling by all the kids.
The parents also seemed to be having a great time being young at heart and exploring the woods again. The group then hiked west on the LOViT around to the swtchbacks on the south side of the mountain, where there is a broad view of the long valley between Hickory Nut Mountain and Broken Rock to the south. This rocky and steep portion of the trail was just the challenge the children needed to sharpen their hot dog appetites. Thanks to the many sharp eyes and good arms of mostly active boys, there are a lot fewer rocks on the trail tread than when the hike began.
Cooking Hot Dogs Atop Hickory Nut Mountain
Several of the parents remarked what a great place for a picnic and vowed to bring back their families for a day of sightseeing and hiking. Everyone, however, felt a better road up the mountain would greatly enhance the experience and asked what they could do to encourage improvement of the road. The Traildogs explained the challenges of road improvement on federal lands but explained there are some efforts being made to look for a long term solution to permanently improving the now very rutted Hickory Nut Mt. Road.
We all had a great time but none better than the kids.