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From the Field — Central — March 2013

Follow the footsteps of Wild West outlaws in Oklahoma, marvel at Gooseberry Fall's frozen cascades, search out arrowheads at Hot Springs National Park, and more.

Sunset Trail, Hot Springs NP, AR
Circumnavigate the Park Service’s oldest unit (circa 1832) on this 12.4-mile loop following seldom-traveled ridgelines to the park’s highest point, 1,405-foot Music Mountain. Just past halfway, take a .3-mile spur to Balanced Rock, a MINI Cooper-size chunk of precariously perched novaculite (chert). Scraped areas indicate where Native Americans shaved its surface to make arrowheads, which you may spot on the ground nearby. Continue past Ricks Pond, a haven for beaver, herons, and frogs, en route to creekside Gulpha Gorge Campground to close the loop. Trip ID 10212

“Look for black bears, especially near Balanced Rock.”

Field scout: Nalissala Allen, Mountain Pine, AR

Low Gap Loop, Morgan-Monroe SF, IN
Tunnel beneath a chartreuse hardwood canopy on this 10.3-mile loop traversing rugged ridges. Around mile 1.5, you’ll pass a 200-foot-long rock overhang; stand underneath at one end and whisper to your hiking partner at the other to marvel at the acoustics. Continue past early-blooming wild irises, snow trilliums, and jack-in-the-pulpit. Take a .6-mile spur just before mile 10 to overnight at the rustic, 130-year-old Draper Cabin ($27; 765-342-4026). Trip ID 8351

“If it’s a wet spring, keep your eyes on the ground for morel mushrooms growing at the base of trees, especially elms.”

Field scout: Bonnie Wilcoxson, Edinburgh, IN

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