Hiker-dog can do leashed trails, too!

Walking toward the CCC Lodge at Roaring River

Part of the pleasure of having written Five Star Trails: The Ozarks is revisiting the trails to look for changes and needed updates. The book currently has a rating of 4.8 stars out of five!

Since there will eventually be a second edition, we visited Roaring River State Park for a couple of nights in the campground and some good day hiking. The fall colors were beginning to pop in this southern Missouri location.

For these trails, Hiker-dog had to wear a leash, but she handled it beautifully as long as I gave her the chance to run off-trail before starting our “formal hiking.”

We walked the Tower Trail, Deer Leap, Devil’s Kitchen, and River Trails that combine to make an out-and-back figure-eight. We found it necessary to walk a different part of the Deer Leap Trail because of construction around the vent of the spring that feeds Roaring River. This was an easy adjustment and construction is a temporary thing, which was a relief.

View of closed area due to construction

I was impressed all over again by these trails, and it was a treat to see them in early fall colors.

Small overlook on Deer Leap Trail

I poured out water for Hiker-dog on a couple of flat rocks as we walked. Though the trails surround Roaring River, drains were pretty dry. We were pleased to arrive at a small spring. The water seeps from under the rock ledge above and is crystal clear.

Hiker-dog quenching her thirst

The area labeled as Devil’s Kitchen is a gnarly bluff area.

Devil’s Kitchen

Our hike’s last stretch included the River Trail and a walk along a beautiful bluff before arriving back at the end of this trail at the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center.

After making the guidebook trail, I investigated Eagle’s Nest Trail to see if it might make a bid for inclusion in the next edition of my guidebook. It was a nice hike but included more road walking than I would expect to see in what would qualify as a most scenic trail in Missouri.

Eagle’s Nest Trail
Great location for a homesite

This trail’s destination is an old homesite location, but doesn’t include cabin footings or historic artifacts to explore. What I found was a beautiful location for a homesite. This is a great little trail just under three miles, but it won’t make the guidebook list. One of the hardest things about writing a guidebook to the Ozarks’ best trails is determining which trails make the cut.

While we hiked the trails, Becca enjoyed exploring along the Roaring River and reading.

Becca was a truck camper pro on this trip, having prepared food without need for refrigeration. Our Four Wheel Popup Camper gave us flexibility on accommodations and a light load. Ours is a shell model that is light and simple. The awning is essential and gives us a protected outdoor space for meals, reading, and resting.

We enjoyed camping and found our neighbors to be friendly and welcoming. We wished for more space between sites and found the highway noise unfortunate for such a beautiful river location.

If you want to hike some beautiful trails and or do some trout fishing with like-minded folks, Roaring River State Park is the place!

If you want to pick up a copy of Five Star Trails: The Ozarks, you can get it from Amazon, but if it’s available at your favorite independent bookstore, get it there. Chapters on Main in Van Buren, Arkansas, and Bookish in Fort Smith, always keeps copies on hand. While you’re there, have a cup of coffee and browse.

We need our indies! bookish: An indie shop for folks who read

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photo from Bookish website

It’s hip! It’s fun! But, there’s depth, too! Bookish is Fort Smith’s independent bookstore, owned and operated by a group of delightful ladies who are themselves, bookish through and through. As a bonus, they were excellent teachers, known for their ability to build strong relationships through the written word. Regardless of your interests, Jennifer, Sara, and Linda will help you find the right book or order it if it’s not on the shelves.

IMG_4385rrThis store has a fresh, modern look, but it’s welcoming and warm with comfortable nooks for reading and conversation.

Bookish is also buzzing with literary activities. They’ve hosted a writing workshop with Tipsy Mockingbird (a local publisher) and one of their writers, Kevin Johnson, acting as facilitators.  They also host monthly book clubs. They’ll probably do another writing workshop in the near future, so follow their social media and watch for details of upcoming events.

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Kevin Johnson, author, visits with store owners and representatives from a local publisher.

IMG_3878rrFull disclosure: Both River Valley independent bookstores, bookish, and Chapters on Main, carry my trail guidebook, but I’d still love them if they didn’t! We need them both! They serve a combined population of about 190,000 people in Crawford and Sebastian Counties and act as hubs for the literary lives of many residents.

Authentic snippets of life occur in independent bookstores where the soil is rich, varied, and porous, unlike large stores built from standard designs with the primary goal of increased sales.

On a single Saturday morning at bookish, I met a young man planning future adventures in the Ozarks. His love of nature inspired me to want to continue my explorations and writing. I saw a young mother smiling at her daughter’s fascination with new books. Nearby, a father read to his child while his wife browsed the shelves. On the other side of the store, a young couple looked through guidebooks for their next adventures to share.

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IMG_4401rrScenes like these are much more likely to occur at bookish than the big box stores. I’m thankful for this special place filled with great words and people from all walks of life who have a love for learning.

Some might think it’s a stretch, but I believe an independent bookstore might be thought of as a sacred space. Forrest Church said, “you might also choose to see it as a cathedral of the human spirit – a storehouse consecrated to the full spectrum of human experience.” Bookish is such a place!

bookish: An indie shop for folks who read
115 N. 10th St., Suite H-119-C,
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Phone: (479) 434-2917

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