Some Things Never Get Old

Hiker-dog and I walked the Lake Alma Trail after a good rain to see how McWater Falls was rolling. We weren’t disappointed. We’re never disappointed when walking this trail. It’s special in all seasons, but be sure to check for ticks after walking it this time of year.

McWater Falls are named after Harry McWater who had the vision for a trail around Lake Alma.

McWater Falls from above

Just Add Ice! McWater Falls

McWater Falls on a warm afternoon (24-degrees)

Hiker-dog and I were excited to return to McWater Falls today, but I was not prepared for the difference just two days made in the scene. Ice formations had grown, and it was a pleasure to snap a few shots. It was noticeably warmer than it was on Monday when it was 12-degrees. On Tuesday morning, the temperature dropped to 4-degrees below zero, a record for our twenty years in Alma. On Tuesday afternoon, it warmed into the low 20s, and we got another couple of inches of snow.

I enjoyed finding different perspectives around the ice formations. Hiker-dog was calm and posed with a former student who was hiking with his family.

Repeated Walks

IMG_4084rrWe should hike some trails over and over again, especially when they’re in our backyards. This little 4-mile trail is a 3-minute drive from my home. On this recent morning, I had the trail to myself.




When you walk the same trail many times, you begin to notice the smaller things. Repeated walks on the same trail are never boring. They’re new every time!

IMG_4121rrHere’s a short video message I shared with students while Arkansas schools are closed due to the spread of COVID-19. I wanted to share a local trail and remind students that their vision for the future can have an impact on our community. Enjoy your trails, especially your home trails.


The Trail Never Disappoints


Yesterday’s steady rain promised potential waterfalls this morning, so Hiker-dog and I set out early. I never tire of walking the Lake Alma Trail. It’s always slightly different, depending on the light, weather, and my frame of mind. This morning, it was exactly 50-degrees, so my sometimes weather-related mood was pretty optimistic.

As we approached the creek below McWater Falls, I heard a soft flow. When we arrived, the waterfall greeted us in beautiful morning light. After Hiker-dog had her bath and a drink, I placed my camera on a tree root for a half-second exposure.


McWater Falls on the Lake Alma Trail

After picking up some trash, yes, trash right here at the waterfall, we began our walk back, picking up several other trash items on the way. I noted that some litterbugs were not adhering to the guidelines I wrote for these folks in another post. A couple of new pieces of trash had obviously been thrown off the trail, making them harder to retrieve.

As we walked back through the picnic area and across the dam, a bright morning sun beamed down its warmth, revealing hints of approaching fall colors on this trail that never disappoints.


If you’d like a map of the Lake Alma Trail, open this pdf: Alma Park Map 2017

Photo Challenge: Favorite Place With a Favorite Friend

WordPress Photo Challenge: Favorite Place


Quenching thirst on this morning’s walk.

Daily walks with my friend are important to both of us physically and mentally. If I skip a day, my four-legged friend lets me hear about it.


This morning we strayed from the main trail to have a look at this historic well. It was probably built in the early 1900s by the same folks who laid rock walls to mark their property lines.


View into the well

When water’s flowing, we take a short spur and enjoy the sound of McWater Falls, named for the man who initiated the work to build a trail around Lake Alma.


McWater Falls

I’m thankful for this favorite place and my little favorite trail friend.

For the Lake Alma Trail backstory and driving directions, read Lake Alma Trail: A Trail for All Reasons 

For more about Hiker-dog, check out her resume.


Icy Home Trail


Years ago we asked my youngest daughter about vacation ideas. This young lady is now more widely traveled than her father, but at that time she named several options that we’d already visited. When asked why she liked these places, she said, “Because we’ve been there.”

After 160 new miles on the Ouachita Trail, I understood my daughter’s feelings and looked forward to a walk on my “home trail.” The familiar Lake Alma Trail is comfortable, but continues to provide new sights or sounds. Today was no exception.


McWater Falls

With temperatures in the low 30s, ice remained from the previous days of temperatures dipping into the teens.


McWater Falls


Ice patterns at the edge of Little Frog Bayou fascinated me. I ended up spending some time along the shore while Hiker-dog enjoyed some leash-free time. IMG_5466rrI’m thankful for the comfort of a familiar trail and my little hiking partner’s energy. Below are a few ice patterns I noticed while on our home trail walk. 

I’m looking forward to sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail and others at Hobbs State Park on Sunday, January 21st at 2 p.m.

Going With the Flow on Our “Home Trail”

IMG_1190rrI woke at midnight to a lightning show and intense rain. I pulled back the window curtains to get a better look then went back to sleep anticipating this morning’s walk on my “home trail,” alive with flowing water.IMG_1213rrBluffs rained down along my approach to Mc Water Falls. This was a good sign and meant I was in for a treat.IMG_1204rrMcWater Falls ran strong and the water almost seemed to generate its own breeze in the hollow below the falls.IMG_1219rrSometimes you catch yourself entranced as you look down a trail. Colors seem deeper and filled with contrast after a storm.IMG_1220rrWe heard Little Frog Bayou long before arriving at the bridge. I exclaimed to Hiker-dog, “This is how you fill up a lake!” The bridge had held strong, so we crossed but not without sitting in the middle for a few minutes to appreciate the roar.

I enjoy seeing, hearing and even feeling water when hiking in the Ozarks. The best hikes tend to be the ones where you get your feet wet. Today was no exception!

Ozark Abstracts in Rock, Water, and Ice

WordPress Photo Challenge: Abstract

LAT 042316 3rr

I stopped this morning to admire the abstract patterns in this rock wall next to the trail. When I got back home, I decided to skim through previous photos from the Ozarks region that have an abstract quality about them. I chose to focus on photos with rock, water, and ice.


Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area bolder 


Rock floor next to Hurricane Creek


Roaring River


Little Clear Creek West on the Lake Alma Trail


Ice on the bluff at McWater Falls.


Frozen creek surface 


Detail of frost flower 

Waterfall Cures from Do South Magazine

Glory Hole Falls 2 E Scowden small

Glory Hole Falls, Eric Scowden

I’m proud to be published with friend Eric Scowden in the beautiful Do South Magazine. If you enjoy waterfalls, you’ll like our article that gives detailed information to find nine beauties in our area of Arkansas. The following links take you to the web version of the article.

Digital magazine format with article beginning on p 58:

“Waterfall Cures” Words by Jim Warnock  / Photos by Eric Scowden and Jim Warnock 

Do South Blog format:

“Waterfall Cures” Words by Jim Warnock / Photos by Eric Scowden and Jim Warnock

Turner Bend Falls Warnock 2 small

Turner Bend Falls on the Pig Trail, Jim Warnock

High Water Hiking on the Lake Alma Trail

McWater Falls

McWater Falls

We had more than six inches of rain within a 24-hour period last week. I did several out-and-back early morning hikes to have a look at water levels. With a few hours available this morning, Hiker-dog and I finally did the entire loop to see how high water levels had impacted the trail.

I was pleased that the trail from the picnic area all the way to Little Frog Bayou on the east side was in pretty good shape. McWater Falls was beautiful as always! An out-and-back on this section would be fine. See my trail description for this hike in E Fort Smith Magazine. The little bridge downstream from McWater Falls was washed out of position, but crossing on rocks is easy here.

Little bridge downstream from McWater Falls

Little bridge downstream from McWater Falls

Little Frog Bayou Bridge

Little Frog Bayou Bridge

Arriving at Little From Bayou, I was amazed that the bridge was still in place with only a few boards missing (nice work Joe S. and friends). Do not cross the bridge until repairs can be made.

Little Frog Bayou Bridge high water damage.

Little Frog Bayou Bridge high water damage.

Hiker and I did not follow my advice but carefully crossed the bridge. We immediately began to wade through water along side of Little Frog Bayou. As soon as the trail turned south after the crossing and began to follow the creek I found myself approaching waist-high water. We left the trail and went to higher ground past the old well then back to the trail about sixty yards downstream where it was above water.

Historic well west of Little Frog Bayou

Historic well west of Little Frog Bayou

The next adventure was crossing the west creek (what we call Little Clear Creek). The bridge was still standing and held my weight. Water levels are usually around five feet below the bridge. Crossing the bridge involved some wading on the west side. We then sought higher ground since the trail was under water.

Little Clear Creek Bridge

Little Clear Creek Bridge

I came across some nice little bluffs high up over the creek and then headed back down to the main trail. The remainder of the hike was dry crossing the dam and back to the picnic area. We both had a good workout and were pretty well soaked. Nice morning on the Lake Alma Trail!

Rock formations west of Little Clear Creek

Rock formations west of Little Clear Creek

Hiker airing out on the dam.

Hiker airing out on the dam.

Dry walking next to the fishing dock below the picnic area

Dry walking next to the fishing dock below the picnic area