Mount Magazine
December 30, 2007
Things were getting ready to be real hectic at work, so I viewed a Sunday off as my last possible chance for a long time to continue my exploration of the numerous bluff-top vistas on Mount Magazine's west end.  I arrived at the state park before sunrise, and began the day by pinpointing the location of the iconic old cedar tree down below the state park lodge, on the southern face. I once heard the park interpreter refer to it as the "famous" tree, so that's what I've been calling it.
I walked back to the truck and drove to the gate at the road going to the west end, where I parked and started walking. I spied a herd of deer in the woods up ahead and knelt down in the road and tried to get my camera out of the backpack, but they spotted me, blew a few warnings and walked off.
Around 1.3 miles down the road, I hung a right and headed north through the woods. I trod through four inches of snow that had fallen Wednesday. Five hundred yards later I reached the bluff line that rings the west end of the mountain. I first stopped at an overlook I'd dubbed Chinquapin Rock, where I'd halted my exploration last April.
I didn't take very many pictures, what with the bright sun casting hard shadows everywhere. But I did manage to make a big circle around the entire west end of the mountain and made an inventory of every overlook I deemed noteworthy.
I've made a map, pictured below, by adding some labels to a screen shot from Google Earth. Most of the names are ones I've come up with, though three of the spots had signs with official state park names.
Chinquapin Rock, where I ended my exploration last spring, is situated on the east side of an alcove. On the west side is another outcrop with a pedestal of sorts. There is a boulder lodged between the pedestal and the main bluff. I named it Stubby Point, after a stubby cedar tree that was growing there.. very pretty tree. This is a significant point, much more so than Chinquapin Rock. There are alcoves on either side here, and a person could walk down on either side to the base of the bluffs below.
Continuing west, I came to a small point with a great view looking back east at Stubby Point. I had marked this on the GPS, but then deleted it.
The next point to the west, Glacier Point, is on the edge of a huge rock glacier devoid of trees - 100 yards long and 70 yards wide. That small point back to the east looks kinda good from here.
Signal Rock (that's an official name) is the next big point, on the other side of the rock glacier. There is a natural rock wall jutting out to the east. The tallest radio tower was back behind. There's a big rock on the west side of this area just begging to be climbed on. I walked out along the snow-covered rock wall and took a few photos looking back east. Stubby Point, with it's pedestal, is recognizable in the distance. I was also intrigued by the sky. Looking straight ahead in all directions I could see a distinct line where the sky went from hazy and darker below to clearer and lighter above.
The next point, about 300 yards west, didn't have much of a view, but there is a nice field of lichen-covered boulder tops back behind it. There's a big split in the rocks I had to jump over to get to the bluff.
Grandview Point (another official name) came next, only a couple of hundred yards from the western tip of the bluff line. About the only thing grand was the view east back towards the bluffs. The pedestal at Stubby Point was very prominent from this view.
There was a point of sorts at the western tip, though the view was partially blocked by trees. A clearing in the middle afforded a view west for a long, long way. Unfortunately there was a squat red and white radio tower just up the hill behind there, which just ruined the mood.
From there I started hiking east and began my survey of the southern face. Two hundred and fifty yards later I came to a nice overlook I named Buck Point, because I saw a deer running down in the woods way below. There were four old twisted cedars on this point, and some nice blocky rocks jutting out below. This spot has a wide-open 180 degree view, and there are some rock glaciers down the hill.
As I continued east I noticed that I was no longer trodding through snow. The southern side didn't have as many trees, and by that time it was after 2 o'clock and the sun and above-freezing temperature had the expected results.
Another two hundred yards of hiking brought me to a familiar location I'll call Twin Points. I first visited it in February of 2005, then Joey and I paid another visit the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2006. There are two outcrops here, with a shelter-like structure in the bluff below the two.
I came upon a trail and followed it to another official overlook, Sentinel Rock, below the fire tower. I reminisced about that warm spring day back in the early 90's when Johnny and I went on one of our countless road trips and wound up here. Back then all the roads in the area were dirt, yet we were able to drive right up to the tower.  The view from here would be really nice except there are radio towers in view both east and west.
"Old Cedar" was the next point, 240 yards east. There was a decent old tree here, and a good view of Sugarloaf Mountain along the state line to the west.
It was nice to finally be past all the radio towers. Another hundred yards of hiking brought me to three different points within 60 yards of each other. Chunk Point has a nice big chunk of bluff below that makes the view a bit interesting. Lacey Point, named for the stream down below, has a similar view and one can climb down to a rock point below. Pebble Point had lots and lots of pebbles back behind the bluff. One of these days I'm going to slow down and take some close-up shots of the sandstone pebbles that are so common at Mount Magazine. I made some other notes about this area. Way down below to the Southeast, in the pines there was a prominent bluff line. These three points would be good locations to return to during colorful fall foliage. The woods behind the bluff were nice and flat, and there were a lot of scrub oaks everywhere.
I hiked another 400 yards before I found another overlook. I named Crowell Point for a stream way down below.  The view included a nice rock sticking up out front, though the view to the east was blocked by trees. There was also a nice rock outcrop down below that a person could climb out on. From up above it was in line with that bluff line to the Southeast I'd mentioned.
For the next thousand yards the bluff line was covered with thick vegetation, mostly cedars and scrub oaks. By then I'd had my fill of bushwhacking for the day. I hiked through the open woods uphill of the bluff line, all the way to Bear Gap. There were probably some nice overlooks down there - maybe even something as nice as the famous tree - but my curiosity for scenic vistas had been quenched by then.
One hundred forty yards west of Bear Gap I saw a cave-like structure in the side of a short bluff.
I had time to kill and walked beside Bear Gap. The north side of the natural rock wall there never sees direct sunlight in the winter, and I found numerous clumps of snow rapidly melting. Many of the clumps were covering bright green masses of succulent moss, which seemed to just love the snow.
The dirt road was just north of Bear Gap, so I started walking in that direction. But before I got to the road I found myself in a nice grove of big trees and I decided to walk east at an angle that would gradually take me closer to the truck and keep me in the woods. I crossed a pretty little stream, filled with leaves and fresh water from the melting snow.
I arrived at the truck about half an hour before sunset, and was able to take my time in returning to the famous tree to enjoy the view of the sun sinking below the horizon.