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Nice walk after lunch?
The Benefield Trail is split into two loops: Benefield East Loop and Benefield West Loop both orienting and connecting in the Benefield Picnic area and forming a nice figure 8 loop, each about 1 mile in length. The area is named after Benjamin Benefield who homesteaded the area back in the 1880's. 160 acres of onions, turnips, potatoes...and apple orchard and vineyard. (You might want to give those items some consideration for a commemorative picnic while there?) There is still the grave of one of their children buried beside the entrance road. The east loop follows the path originally constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) back in 1938, yielding views of Bear Hollow, Ouachita Mountains and the Petit Jean River Valley.
The west loop traverses over to a wildlife pond, giving a nice connection to the Mossback Trail. As with all the shorter trails on Magazine Mountain, the best use is to plan a variety of connecting routes to make for a nice day of looping hikes. The total mileage of trails is under 15 miles; it is possible to enjoy the entire system in one or two days of easy paced hiking.
Weather on top of Mount Magazine, as anywhere else in the country, can change quickly. One thing is for certain. Daytime temperatures are generally at least 10 degrees cooler than those in surrounding valleys below. That is especially true during summer months. It rarely climbs above 90 degrees on the mountaintop, and has not reached 100 degrees since data has been collected here. The average year-round temperature is 56 degrees. The average rainfall is 54 inches each year.
Low clouds cause foggy conditions and reduce visibility any time of year with an average of eight days a month. November tends to be the foggiest month while March and April have the fewest days of fog. However, there are some mornings when the valleys below are shrouded in fog and nearby mountains appear like islands above a sea of clouds.
Scenic overlooks provide broad vistas for watching the weather conditions. Fast moving thunderstorms and lightening can make for very dramatic photographs. However, always use caution in these conditions.
There is a fee camping area within the state park, and a very nice lodge. Camping is also available outside the park boundaries within the Ozark National Forest. There is no fee for entering the park.
Ice comes in various forms on the mountaintop. Frost, sleet, hail, snow, and freezing rain are the usual types of ice with which most people are familiar. Other types of ice can be found on these upper elevations. Frost flowers are thin blades of ice that ooze out of the forest floor. Ice crystals grow upward from underground, sometimes lifting pebbles. Waterfalls and seeps freeze into icicles that create interesting photo opportunities. Hoarfrost is frozen dew that forms a white coating on plants. Rime ice is a coating of ice formed when water droplets freeze almost instantly on cold surfaces. Freezing fog accumulates on trees in fragile layers and can be strikingly beautiful at sunrise. Exploring the mountaintop in winter can be a wonderful experience.
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