Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop – 3 mi

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
View from Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail

About a week ago, my son and I climbed up to the top of Pinnacle Mountain (at Pinnacle Mountain State Park), near Little Rock. I had been thinking that it shouldn’t be too difficult of a hike compared to some of the other hikes I had done this past year (such as climbing Winding Stair Mountain or climbing Rich Mountain).

But the Pinnacle Mountain East Summit Trail is pretty unique.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
Boulder area of the East Summit Trail (Pinnacle Mountain)

The hike we did is a loop – first climbing up the East Summit Trail to the top, then taking the West Summit Trail down the other side, and then turning right and following the Base Trail along the north of the mountain back to the beginning.

You can also make a south loop by turning left at the West Summit Trailhead and taking the Base Trail around the south side of the mountain.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
Approximate Elevation Profile Based on GPS Data

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Pinnacle Mountain Summit Trail (North) Loop Map

Click here for full-screen trail map.

The first 4/10 mile or so of the East Summit Trail is a fairly normal uphill hike. Then it gets interesting. The rest of the way to the top (another 500 feet elevation increase) is almost entirely a boulder climb. If you have been hoping to get more upper body workout with your hiking, this is the trail for you.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
View from top of Pinnacle Mountain

Tim Ernst says that the East Summit Trail is the steepest trail in Arkansas. I don’t doubt him. For an Arkansas trail, it is very steep.

Not surprisingly, the views from the top (and near the top) are stunning.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
Stone Steps on West Summit Trail (Pinnacle Mountain)

If you just want the easiest climb to the top and back down, the West Summit Trail is the way to go. The West Summit Trail is not quite as steep, and at the higher elevations, it primarily has stone steps rather than boulders to climb.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
Lower Section of West Summit Trail (Pinnacle Mountain)

On the day of our hike, I was impressed with how many people there were on the trail. We probably saw 50 people climbing the mountain that day. There were even families with kids and people who brought their (leashed) dogs.

The complete loop we took is about 2.6 miles. There is parking at the East Summit Trailhead (where we started) and at the West Summit Trailhead as well.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
Base Trail on North Side of Pinnacle Mountain

The climb to the top of the mountain is quite difficult, but my (15-year-old) son and I thoroughly enjoyed the hike.

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail North Loop

LocationPinnacle Mountain State Park, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Length/Type2.6 mile loop
DifficultyVery strenuous (5 of 5)
DirectionsI started at the East Summit trailhead. I then hiked up to the summit and then down the west summit trail. Then I turned right and followed the base trail back.
ATT Cell Coverage?Yes
Official Info (Links)Website. Pinnacle Mountain State Park Trail Map.
Weather/Conditions90's, hot.
Date Hiked07-03-2010

Pinnacle Mountain: Summit Trail Loop - 3 mi photo
Pinnacle Mountain (North) Summit Trail Loop – Contour Map (click to enlarge)

Click here to download Mike’s gpx file.

Enter your location to get approximate Google Maps directions to the East Summit Trail trailhead:

[Last updated: 8-23-2014]

So what do you think? (Leave a comment.)