At Pinnacle Mountain State Park, the trees have knees. The Bald Cypress trees, at least. These giant, water-loving trees grow in and around the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers, and play an important role in the life of the park’s lowland forests.
Bald Cypress knees along the Kingfisher Trail in Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Bald cypress trees provide a habitat for a multitude of wildlife, and have a great mat of roots which holds the soil along the edge of the river and slows floodwaters. The strong mat of roots contains knees, which look like rounded spikes sticking out above the water near the base of the tree. Some scientists believe that the knees act as a snorkel, and bring air to the trees submerged roots allowing the tree to access oxygen in the slow moving, swampy water. The unique roots are also thought to assist in anchoring the giant trees in soft, muddy soil. The next time you are at the park, take a walk along the gentle Kingfisher Trail and make sure to look for the Bald Cypress trees, or as they are often called, the trees that have knees.
Long before Pinnacle Mountain State Park became a park, two of Arkansas’s most famous writers lived in a house near its base. The house, which sits next to Chief White Horse stable, was called Remembrance Farm. The writers who lived there were John Gould Fletcher and his wife, Charlie May Simon.
Ask around in Central Arkansas and you will run into few people who are unfamiliar with Pinnacle Mountain, or simply, “Pinnacle,” as most locals call it. However, Pinnacle Mountain has not always carried that title.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park has gone through several changes over the past century. In the 1920s, the area’s rocky slopes became the perfect place to harvest shale and sandstone for a variety of construction projects. The eastern slope of Pinnacle Mountain, where the East Summit Trail is today, was the major source of sandstone used to build the Lake Maumelle Dam in 1956. Segments of the East Summit Trail and the Base Trail follow the old quarry roads.
Many visitors reach the top of Pinnacle Mountain and notice large, dark birds soaring through the sky, lazily circling the summit of the mountain. These birds are labeled as eagles or hawks by many, but are usually none other than the turkey vulture.
Geologists from all over the world come to explore Pinnacle Mountain State Park’s unique geological formations, and many have described the park as “pure geographical chaos.”
Pinnacle Mountain, and Little Rock itself, marks the point where various geographic regions in the state collide, including the Arkansas River Valley, Mississippi Alluvial Plains, Gulf Coastal Plains, and the Ouachita Mountains. This creates an extremely diverse landscape.