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Hot Springs National Park Facts: The floral trail is the only trail in Hot Springs National Park that you have to go up hill to access either of the two trail heads. The Floral Trail has a trail head on North Mountain and one on Hot Springs Mountain and it does matter which way you travel on the trail you have to go up hill to exit at trail heads.
As I entered the park at 10:30 am the sky was overcast, the Robins were sounding an alarm from the tree tops and there were no Blue Jays or Cardinals to be heard or seen. I immediately looked to West Mountain and saw a Hawk soaring above the trees. It looked like the Hawk was catching a good ride gliding straight and then in slow circles. If you want to clear the lower park of birds and small mammals a Hawk over West Mountain will do it.
I had planned an extensive hike of nearly 7 miles so I headed directly to the top take my Pagoda View Photo. No birds in site and the skies darkening I continued on my journey. As I stepped back onto the Hot Springs Trail a Blue Jay teased me darting in and out of the trees like a game of hide and seek, I love their companionship. Blue Jays are always so quick, I was lucky to get any photos of him/her.
The Blue Jay lightened my heart, I felt as it I was dancing along the many trails on my hike. I connected with the Gulpha Gorge Trail so I could hike the Goat Rock Trail. All night I had dreamed of the lovely wildflowers I had photographed for my blog. I hiked with great care checking all the trail edges and was rewarded with a chance to see a several new wildflowers. Beautiful little blossoms peeking out from dried grass, pine needles and rocks. So delicate in various shades of purple, each with it’s own unique shape.
I hated to leave the little flowers but there were more trails to hike before my return home to my beloved fiance’ Rick. Now for a confession, for the first time since I started hiking I was singing out load heading up the last section of the Goat Rock Trail. Near my connection with the Upper Dogwood Trail a sweet little Black-Capped Chickadee sang back to me and came close enough for me to see them sing. I was having a wonderful day in the forest.
I hiked the Upper Dogwood to the Lower Dogwood and them connected with the Floral Trail. I was excited, this was the only trail on Hot Springs and North Mountains I had not traveled. The trail was rough and it appeared it was not used often, segments of the path had gnarled roots and loose rocks making the upward hike slow. I photographed the rocks on the trail and when I edited the photo I discovered a sweet little yellow and black hover fly with it’s wings out stretched. So many little details in Nature, I wonder how many I miss each day. I was happy to see the honeysuckle trail, it felt like I had been going up hill all day.
The biggest surprise was to be revealed to me on one of my favorite trails. As I crested the first incline of the Honeysuckle Trail I was greeted by a flock of Robins, it was the first time I had seen them on this part of the trail. The bigger surprise was their traveling companion, a large Cedar Waxwing. I kept thinking when I got home my photos would really show it was only a pale Robin, a fine feathered illusion.
I connected with the Peak Trail and as I neared the Tufa Terrace still no birds in site. Walking bent over I checked under bushes and not one feathered creature was to be found. Walking the last of the Tufa Terrace I looked up at a tree on the Promenade and saw several Robins and another Cedar Waxwing, this one smaller than one I had seen earlier. It made me wonder if they had stayed when their flock left before the ice storm. As I was not looking for them amongst the Robins it was a possibility. I had seen Blue Jays and Cardinals together, so why not Robins and Cedar Waxwings.
Everyday in the park is a learning experience, Nature is a wonderful teacher.
Much Love to You All,