November Sunday afternoons should not be eighty degrees warm in the middle of the South East US. The Dog and I took advantage of this inappropriate weather and headed for a classic Arkansas sunset from some hidden and surprisingly stunning man-made cliffs.
Near Pulaski Tech there is an abandoned slate quarry. The Department of the Interior designated some of the land as a fenced in and partially paved walking trail marked with signs warning visitors to stay close to the path. The sparse tree line was my first indicator that there was something truly remarkable to behold on the other side of those well intentioned fences and signs.
If you hike further down the trail, keeping right at the large fork you will eventually run out of protection and warnings and your way will become narrow. You will begin seeing the land slope away on either side, the ground turns into gravel, and you can catch glimpses of the ground, five hundred feet straight down, on your left. Tree tops reach out to you and still fall thirty to fifty feet shy of brushing the bottom of your boots. Keep hiking.
You will scramble down a few rocks to reach the point of the ridge overlooking the quarry to your left as the Arkansas River snakes around the rest of your panorama. Buildings, bridges, and the River Trail can be seen from where you stand, exposed to the sunlight and wind of an other-worldly view of North Little Rock.
To the right you will find a pathway to help you scramble down the graffiti covered rocks and cling to some generous cracks as you use some muscle memory from childhood to descend into the quarry, further down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland.
In an effort to keep things brief, here is a short list of sights to see once you find your way to the many paths and old mining roads down below.
1. The slick black slate fields
2. The bridge that leads to nowhere (and the guardian that lies beneath)
3. The moss covered, iridescent boulders
4. The waves of gravel easily surf-able by the more adventurous amongst us
5. The twisted vines of old mining equipment found along paths and around victorious trees
Pack a lunch, pack a hammock, stay the night or just go for a sunset.
Make some new scars.
*SPECIAL NOTE: Leave your four legged friends at home and use common sense and caution if you descend into the quarry. It is treacherous to say the least and there is good reason behind the signs (though often ignored by child and adult alike).