Hiking Mt. Nebo’s Bench Trail

Today we took a little trip up Mt. Nebo for Day 20 of our 30 Days/30 Miles walking goal.

arkansas's mt. nebo state park

Let me start off by saying that this post is going to be picture heavy. There were so many cool things to see, we ended up taking 81 pictures. I narrowed it down to some of my favorites. It’s also going to give a bit of history, because I find it fascinating.

Mt. Nebo is located about 20 minutes from our house. The mountain rises 1,350 feet from the River Valley which makes it Arkansas’ second tallest mountain behind Mt. Magazine.

This was our second time to Mt. Nebo since we’ve lived here, but our first time of actually getting out of the car and walking around. I can’t wait to go back.

We started by going up Hwy. 155 to the Benchroad Trail overlook. The overlook has a gazebo and looks down over the River Valley. Supposedly on a clear day you can see both Mt. Magazine (36 miles away) and Mt. Petit Jean (45 miles away) from Nebo.

gazebo at the overlook at benchroad trail

The first home built on Mt. Nebo was owned by Louis C. White and his wife.

The story of how Mt. Nebo was named goes that one morning Mrs. White looked out over the River Valley and proclaimed that it must have looked how it looked to Moses as he looked out over the promised land from Mt. Nebo in Jordan. I’m not sure how factual that is, but I can believe it:

river valley from mt nebo

At the overlook is the entrance to Benchroad Trail and this lovely sign:

benchroad trail sign, mt. nebo, arkansas

Not only is the trail beautiful, but it has some pretty amazing history as well. Sometime we’ll come back and hike the entire trail, but for now we’re going to stick to our mile a day regimen.

The entrance to the Benchroad Trail:

bench trail mt. nebo

You might be wondering how the Benchroad trail got it’s name.

In the 1890s, there was a town on Mt. Nebo. It was described as a “summer resort” and had two hotels.  Most of the town was on the summit but there was a hotel named the Blevins Hotel along with about 30-40 houses on the “bench.” The bench is a giant sandstone shelf on the side of the mountain:

richard bandit sandstone bench trail hike

There was so much of this sandstone — and up close it looked and felt exactly like tree bark.

You can still see the foundations of some of the homes that once existed here but have since been destroyed by fires, weather, time, and the tenacity of nature.

amanda at the bench

Walking further down the trail from the bench we came across another trail that branched off toward the Mt. Nebo Spring.

walking to mt. nebo spring

You can’t really tell from the picture but the trail down to the spring is steep and there is a drop-off less than 10 feet to my right. It’s a long way down.

mt nebo arkansas spring well

Mt. Nebo Spring was constructed in 1894 and separated the town on the summit from the rest of the people living on the bench. This was Mt. Nebo’s sole source of water. It’s still running to this day.

The spring is a section of mountain that has been cut away and reinforced with blocks of stone. There are stone blocks here that must weigh 500lbs. They used Oxen to do a lot of the work on Mt. Nebo moving the stones and lumber in to place. It must have been grueling work, regardless.

history of the mt nebo spring

I love that the picture was dated “94″. The people in the picture never considered it would still be around until 1994 or used as historical piece 117 years after it was taken.

Leaving the Spring trail, we continued down the Bench Trail and we came upon the Upper Spring trail which was incredibly steep. We brought along our dog and I didn’t think he would do very well going up, so we didn’t ascend it. We will eventually, though.

Further down the trail we came across the Steps Trail, which is another trail that I’m not sure where it leads, either. There’s just so much to see on Nebo that it would literally take days of walking to see it all.

steps trail at mt nebo arkansas

To give you an idea; the Upper Spring trail was even more steep than this. We didn’t attempt either. I can’t imagine how people carried water up to the summit back in 1894. It’s 300ft of ascension from the spring.

We walked for a little while past the Steps trail, but were already past a half mile so we decided to turn around and call it a day. On the way out, we saw this tree that I thought was just too neat not to take a picture of. It’s still alive, too. Remember what I said about the tenacity of nature? Perfect example:

tree cut in half

We explored a very small portion of the mountain today. To give you an idea, I zoomed my GPS map out to show the entire mountain versus how little we actually walked. There’s plenty more to see and I’m sure we’ll be making a lot more trips up it.

mt nebo map

Total: 1.56 miles.




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Recipe: Paleo Blackened Catfish

A few nights ago Amanda caught a dinner-sized catfish at Shiloh Park. We brought it home and I cleaned it and then we ate it the next night. Here’s our recipe:

2 Catfish Fillets
2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
2 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot (Cayenne Peppers, Vinegar, Water, Salt, Garlic Powder)
1/4 C. White Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter


1. When I prepare any kind of ‘gamey’ meat or fish that might have an off-taste, I like to soak it overnight in the fridge. Some species of catfish can end up tasting muddy and that’s because, well… Because some of them live in the mud. Typically the muddy tasting ones are flathead catfish and what we have here is a channel catfish, so we’d probably be fine, but…

When purchasing catfish in a store the species probably won’t be listed — frequently it just sells as ‘catfish’ so you don’t really know what you’re getting.

blackened catfish

To soak the catfish you put it in bowl with enough cold water to cover the meat and 1 Tsp. of Sea Salt and 1/4 C. of White Vinegar. You can use cider vinegar or balsalmic vinegar as well. I have done that in a pinch. You don’t taste the vinegar once the meat has been cooked, it just works really well for removing the less than savory flavors.

2. To make the seasoning, mix the Garlic Powder, Chili Powder, 1 Tsp. of Sea Salt, and the Ground Black Pepper in a bowl.

catfish spices

3. Pour the Frank’s Red Hot over the seasoning. Depending on how well you measured the spices, you might need slightly more or less than 2 Tbsp. of the hot sauce.

You want to end up with a sticky paste consistency:

frank's red hot and spices for fish

4. Add the Unsalted Butter to a frying pan on high. Get it hot, but don’t scorch the butter.

5. Rub the catfish fillets in the seasoning mixture until you have both sides coated all over.

6. Add the fillets to the pan and cook until they look done. Then, use a spatula to flip the fillets and cook them even longer.

catfish recipe without batter


They should take on a crispy/blackened look and that’s when you know you you’ve got some finger-licking good catfish.


paleo blackened catfish recipe

Hope you enjoy it!


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The “Historic” and “Famous” Tree Park Trail

Underwhelming is an understatement. Last time we went to Pleasant View Park, we saw this sign on the way out:

arkansas russellville park department

Sounded pretty interesting. Historic. Famous. Must be something special…


The only thing I can think of is that someone at Russellville’s Recreation department has a twisted sense of humor.

trees in arkansas

There basically isn’t a “trail” at all. It’s sort of more like an overgrown boundary to the park, with a few small trees scattered around the place.

By the time we reached the end we had only done 3/10ths of a mile, so we ended up taking a longer walk on the park’s roadways to get back to our car and complete our mile for the day.

map of pleasant view park

Ended at 1.03 miles.

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Illinois Bayou Hiking Trail

Day 18 of of our 30 Days/30 Miles program is at the Illinois Bayou Hiking trail.

illinois bayou trail russellville

We found this trail by reading a sign when we walked at the Illinois Bayou Park a few days ago and had to go back to check the trail out.

The sign never really said how long the trail was… Or where the trail ended up. So… that was a mistake on our part.

We walked for a while. The trail crossed some streams which would have been much cooler had we hiked during wet weather season.

stream at illinois bayou hiking trail

At about a half a mile we were thinking “It couldn’t be much longer to the end…”

And at a mile we were still walking with no end in sight.

“This trail must go somewhere,” we reasoned.

Eventually it got to where the trail was just feet from Lake Dardanelle.

lake dardanelle arkansas cover

At 1 and 1/4 mile the trail went through a gate and continued following the I-40 fence-line probably all the way to Russellville (another few miles down I-40). We didn’t really want to walk to Russellville, so we turned around once we reached the gate.

Overall it was a good hike, but we were expecting more. Like a destination. Or at least a loop that followed a different path back to the car.

map of illinois bayou

In total, we hiked 2.45 miles.

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Catching Dinner

Another trip to Shiloh Park for some nightfishing. This one ended up being a little more exciting than our last trip.

shiloh park night fishing

I had some… technical difficulties… My line started peeling and I was landing the catfish he got hung up in some weeds near the shore and — even though I jumped in the water to grab the fish, still ended up snapping my line. I caught nothing else the rest of the night.

Amanda caught and landed two fish:

largemouth bass released

A 13″ bass that Amanda took a picture of me holding before I released it, and:

channel catfish for dinner

A 23″  channel catfish — a.k.a. tomorrow night’s dinner.

Catching your own dinner is very paleo.

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Longpool Recreation Area

Today we went for a walk at Longpool Recreation Area which is north of Dover, Arkansas on Hwy 7.

longpool campground in arkansas

Longpool is a seasonal campground and shuts down for the entire winter because it’s relatively in the middle of nowhere and the roads to get there are pretty treacherous during icy/snowy conditions.

piney creek at longpool rec.

This will probably be the last time this year that we’ll be able to go, but it was, as always, an awesome place to relax.

diving rocks at longpool rec. area

One of the coolest parts of Longpool is the swim beach. At the swim beach there are some giant rocks that people love to dive from into the water below. Today we were the only people out there.

map of longpool, ar

In total we walked for 1.16 miles.

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Night Fishing and Meadowbrook Trail

Just got back from Krav Maga class. It was awesome. Our primary instructors were out of town, so one of the kickboxing instructors took over. It was a great workout and we were able to work on some great techniques.

It’s been a busy couple of days all around. Last night we went nightfishing at Shiloh park. We didn’t catch a thing, but had a great time. Every few minutes some giant fish would breach the surface and it sounded like a full-grown adult was jumping in to the water next to us.

night fishing dardanelle lake shiloh park

As you can see, I’m pretty brave.

So today we took a walk at Meadowbrook Trail which is part of Dardanelle State Park. We walked this very same trail last December.

meadow brook trail dardanelle

9 months later and not a whole lot had changed. It’s a little worse for wear, a little overgrown in some spots, and the trail markings seem to have all faded away and nobody has been back to repaint them.

arkansas woods
Amanda took a quick picture against the same tree that she posed at 9 months ago. What’s funny is that back in December we had already lost a ton of weight and were already feeling pretty skinny then. Big difference between December and now.

amanda posing next to a tree in the forest

In total we walked/hiked 1.22 miles today, bringing our total for 16 days to 19.1 miles.

map of meadowbrook trail

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Galla Park in Pottsville, Arkansas

pine forest at galla lake

We walked a little earlier today than we normally do.

I saw this park on the map in another nearby town called Pottsville. I’d never been to the park before, but we like going to check out new things so we drove out there.

The “park”, it seems, if there ever was one, has been replaced by a water treatment plant. On the map where it shows where the park once was, is now fenced off holding tanks of water.

galla creek arkansas

But the really cool part was Galla lake. The lake itself is the Pottsville water supply, so there are some strict regulations for fishing and there is absolutely no boats with motors allowed at any time. Seems like a pretty awesome place to put my kayak in.

galla lake pottsville

In total we walked for 0.98 miles today.

map of galla lake/galla park

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Piney Bay Recreation Area


30 Days/30 Miles continues with Day 14 at Piney Bay Recreation Center just east of Knoxville, Arkansas.

arkansas piney bay rec. area

We had been to Piney Bay once previously, but it was cold during Winter and we didn’t really do too much looking around.

piney creek arkansas

This time we walked it and it turned out to be much larger than we thought it was.

trail piney bay arkansas

Mixed in between the campgrounds and swim beaches are pretty neat hiking trails like this one that led to…

theatre at piney bay

A theater. It actually felt kind of creepy. The signs were very worn down so I’m not sure what they use this for if anything. On the way out, we passed by another slightly creepy place…

maddin cemetary at piney bay

The Madden cemetary. I’ve never seen a cemetary quite like this one. Positioned between the headstones are 28 folding seats under a wooden roof. The seats look… well used.

Piney Bay

We ended today with 1.28 miles.

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Dardanelle Riverview Power Station & Park

dardanelle lock and dam

This afternoon we took a short drive over to Dardanelle Arkansas’ Riverview Park, which is just a few miles upstream from the Veteran’s River Front park where we walked yesterday.

the arkansas river at from dardanelle shore

Directly across the river from where this picture was taken is where we were walking at Old Post Park in Russellville, Arkansas.

trail at riverview park to power station
The park itself was little more than a city-owned campground with a few public use barbecue grills. There was a beach that took a lot of effort on our part to reach (walking down a rocky cliff), and a few people fishing near the dam, but little else to mention.

beach at riverview park dardanelle

We ended the day with just over a mile, and have bumped up our total to 15.62 miles.

google map of riverview park

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