A Day with the Arkansas Sphinx

Today was a beautiful 75 degree (Winter?) day! I wanted to get out but had no idea where to go and knew the harsh light wouldn't make for the best photographs, so i decided to scout out a spot I've been curious about for a while now...the Arkansas Sphinx. 

I started heading south deep into the Ozark National Forest using directions I had come across online. The forest road (Johnson County Road 4840) that leads to the parking area for the Sphinx is just 3.9 miles after the turn off for Haw Creek Campground (coming from Pelsor).

County Road 4840

County Road 4840

The gravel road to the Arkansas Sphinx. 

The gravel road to the Arkansas Sphinx. 

Once on county road 4840 the parking area is just another 0.6 miles on a decent gravel road. The parking area is pretty small and on an incline so be careful if you have a rear wheel drive vehicle like I do. The ground was pretty soft from the recent rains and as soon and I backed into the parking area I knew my tires had sunken in. I spent a good while getting unstuck and then parked on the shoulder of the gravel road as far off the road as I could. I could see the Sphinx way up on the hill the whole time I was stuck, so I grabbed my gear and took off in anticipation.

The trail was easy to find because someone had painted big S's on the first couple trees where the little trail begins.

The beginning of the trail from the road.

The beginning of the trail from the road.

And thankfully they had also cleared a path through the thicket at the bottom of the hill. The trail is really short but extremely steep, with an elevation change of 350 feet in a mere 0.17 miles.

The trail and views up to the Arkansas Sphinx.

The trail and views up to the Arkansas Sphinx.

It wasn't that bad but my calves were definitely burning by the time I got up to the Sphinx. The sandstone monolith was honestly more impressive than I originally though it was going to be and the views from it were equally impressive.

First views of the Arkansas Sphinx from the top of the trail.

First views of the Arkansas Sphinx from the top of the trail.

View from behind the Arkansas Sphinx.

View from behind the Arkansas Sphinx.

After getting a taste of the views from the Arkansas Sphinx I decided tot make the extra 200 foot ascent up to the top of Hess Knob to check out the views from rocky outcropping.

The view down toward the Arkansas Sphinx from the top of Hess Knob.

The view down toward the Arkansas Sphinx from the top of Hess Knob.

I spent a while up on the top of Hess Knob taking in the views and watching the sun sink lower and lower in the sky until it finally was bathing the Sphinx in some beautiful golden side light.

Golden light on the Arkansas Sphinx.

Golden light on the Arkansas Sphinx.

After leaving the Arkansas Sphinx I ran back up to Haw Creek to catch to what I could of this beautiful waterway with the little light I had left.

Last light at Haw Creek

Last light at Haw Creek