Mount Nebo State Park

Located a few miles southwest of Russellville Arkansas and rising about 1300′ above its surroundings, Mount Nebo State Park is not a big one but does offer some pretty nice scenery, great vistas, good day hiking, camping, and a place to (legally) launch a hang glider if you’re into that.  The visitor center is at 35.2278,-93.2561.  Historically, the main attractions (for a hiker) were the Rim and Bench trails but about 2019 some new bike trails were opened. The trails are interconnected in a way that you can make a hike of just about any length with as much (or as little) elevation change as desired.  May ’13 sightseeing, July ’14 hikes.

Original Trails

The Rim Trail (3.25 miles) is the star of the show, encircling the top of the mountain as it winds up and down through a bluff.  Scenic vistas abound, as does CCC handiwork.   The trail has some very easy parts and some surprisingly challenging parts.

The Bench Trail (3.75 miles) is an old road that circles the mountain, mostly on a natural bench about 200′ below the rim.  With probably no more than 30-40′ of elevation change in its length it’s a pretty easy hike. There are 10 walk-in camp sites along this trail (permit required).  A short road walk is needed between the Bench Overlook and the Bench Trail parking areas.  The area is thickly wooded and I think the only scenic vistas are the Bench Overlook and a power line cut a bit west of there.

There are also 7 connector trails that run between the Rim and Bench trails, most built long ago for access to springs.  These trails are steep and can really add some challenge to the hike.  A favorite route is to park at the Bench trail lot and do 2 laps around the mountain, taking each connector as I come to it, alternating between the Bench and Rim Trails.

New Trails

A whole system of trails were built for mountain bikers (2018-19?) and most are open to hikers as well. The ratings below are IMBA designations.

  • Miller’s Goat, 5.3 mile loop, rated intermediate. Roughly parallels the Bench Trail but with lots of ups and downs. The maximum elevation difference for the trail is about 250′. Access from Bench Trail trail head, or from Sunset Point via the Sunset Point Connector.
  • Ox Pull, 1.7 miles, rated intermediate. Runs between the AR-155 trail head and the Bench Trail with about 800′ elevation change (8.67% avg grade). This is where I go for conditioning. Bikers are allowed to go only uphill.
  • Chickalah Valley Loop, 4.8 miles, rated difficult. Lies in the northwestern part of the park, in an area few people visited before the trail was built. Peaceful and secluded. About 550′ max elevation change with a big climb out to the trail head. Access from Sunset Point via the Sunset Point Connector. There is a trail generally called “the extraction road” that runs through here. It is rated easy but there is a very steep climb coming out. This was built from logging roads and is also used by the rescue crew.
  • Lizard Tail, 1.9 miles, rated difficult. Runs between Sunrise and Sunset Points around the west side of the mountain, below the Rim Trail. About 200′ max elevation change.
  • Sunrise Loop, 1 mile, rated intermediate. Lies bewteen the Rim and Bench Trails below Sunrise Point. About 300′ max elevation change.
  • Sunset Point Connector, 0.5 miles. Zig-zags down the slope from the Rim Trail near Sunset Point, crossing the Bench Trail before intersecting Miller’s Goat at the top end of the Chickalah Valley Loop.
  • Three-Cs Trail, 1.8 miles, rated easy. Runs between Sunrise and Sunset Points on top of the mountain. Very little elevation change.
  • Bikes only and downhill only: Chickalah Downhill, 2.3 miles, rated difficult.
  • Bikes only and downhill only: Hayes Creek Run, 2.1 miles, rated difficult.


My maps are in a 2-page PDF. It is targeted for printing on 8.5×11″ paper where page 1 would be 1:12000 scale and page 2 would be 1:10000. Every time I update the map the file will have a different name so if you want to bookmark or share the maps, link to this page – not the file.

The base map for the Dardanelle quad (the eastern 1/3 of page 1) has 20′ contour lines, which turn the steep terrain here into a big brown blob. Even with the 40′ contour lines in the other quad it makes the map very “busy” so I tried something new with this one: I reduced the opacity of the topographic layer, thus giving it a bit of a “washed out” look.

Most of the trails are not labeled. The automatic labeling created a lot of clutter but I will try to add some manually-placed labels for the next revision.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s