Overdue Followup Visit with Dr. Kessler and a New Trail for Hiker-dog!

Rock City Trail

Rock City Trail

Last week I joked with coworkers that I had an appointment with Dr. Kessler. I told them this doctor can cure all that ails me. “Dr. Kessler” is Mount Kessler and it had been several months since my first visit. It was time for a follow-up appointment. Today’s ten-mile prescription was exactly what I needed!

Hiker-dog joined me for her first visit on Mount Kessler. She was excited to explore the new terrain.

A regional park is being built close to the trailhead. It will include softball fields, soccer fields and much more. The trails get steady use now, but will probably see even higher use in the future as features are added to the area. The trailhead has been repositioned, but this was an improvement over the last time I visited and only adds about 0.3 of a mile in length.

Present trailhead for Mount Kessler

Mount Kessler trailhead

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The trail was easier to follow and less muddy this time. The trail skirts a hayfield before beginning the climb up the mountain.

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This is a trail of contrast. Just three miles into the hike, I was in Rock City, a maze of rock formations.

Rock City

Rock City

At about the time we were exploring the Rock City section, I noticed how dry the drainages were. Hiker didn’t seem stressed, but I began to look forward to getting her to a small pond up on the Trent Trail. When we finally arrived, she took great joy in repeated trips into the pool. She seemed to enjoy the murky water and drank heartily.

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Hiker was revived and ready to go…and a little green with duckweed from her dip in the pond.

Waiting for direction…

Waiting for direction…

Hiker is used to trail junctions and sometimes looks at me for a cue. While I paused at trail markers to make notes as we hiked down the mountain, I wondered what she thought of this series of trails with so many junctions.

We both left the trail feeling good after our treatment from “Dr. Kessler.” In the interest of our physical and mental health, we scheduled another appointment for this winter.

For driving directions, go to my first report, Mount Kessler, A Treasure in the Ozarks 

Hiker never sat down during our early morning drive to Mount Kessler. She rarely stood on our drive back home. Nap time!

Riding in the Jeep

Riding in the Jeep

Mount Kessler: A Treasure in the Ozarks

Rock City Trail

Rock City Trail

Having hiked part of the Rock City Trail once before, I didn’t anticipate how beautiful the rest of Mount Kessler would be!  What I found was a treasure worthy of protection and sharing. There was delight in every step…even the muddy steps.

I felt a sense of thankfulness as I walked. Thankful that this area is protected for me to enjoy. Thankful that Mount Kessler will be protected for future generations and thankful for the man who became the driving force behind this mountain.

Mt. Kessler Greenways

Frank Sharp, now retired, has dedicated his skills and energy to protecting Mount Kessler, establishing Mt Kessler Greenways for that purpose. The same talents and work ethic that helped him succeed in business have served Mt. Kessler well. He spent countless hours promoting the preservation of Mt. Kessler and surrounding areas, much of which is under private ownership. Mount Kessler Greenways now include about 1,500 acres, most of which is urban forest. Approximately 1,000 acres are inside the city limits of Fayetteville.

His strategy has been to get people out on the trails of Mt. Kessler by foot or mountain bike. Once you’ve seen the area, you want to become part of the coalition to protect it. He built a massive coalition of thousands who wanted to see a protected mountain sitting at the edge of a burgeoning city. Hike the trails and see the results so far.

Frank Sharp and his wife sharing Mount Kessler with the Ozark Highlands Trail Association

Frank Sharp, with his wife, sharing his vision of protecting Mount Kessler with the Ozark Highlands Trail Association.

The trails do not have blaze markings but signs are posted at each intersection. I hiked up the Serpentine Trail to access the Rock City Trail as an out-and-back. Then I did the Spellbound Trail before returning to the trailhead by way of the Trent Trail for a total distance of 9.2 miles. If hiking during a wet season, wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. I enjoyed walking through the mud but had a change of clothes so I could take my wife to Noodles Italian Kitchen for a wonderful post-hike meal.

Signs are posted at every intersection.

Signs are posted at every intersection.

Getting There: From I-49 on the southern side of Fayetteville, take Exit 60 and drive south on Cato Springs Road for 0.6 mile. Watch for the Mount Kessler sign on the right. Turn right on Judge Cummins Rd. (Washington County 200). Drive 0.2 mile to the trailhead parking on the right. Be sure to sign in at the trail register next to the parking lot.

Rock City

Rock City with hiker exploring on top.

Rock formations next to the trail.

Rock formations next to the trail.

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Wide open hardwoods

Wide open hardwoods with an occasional glimpse of civilization down below.