Ascent of Music Mountain on 2010-09-06

Climber: Ryan Courtney

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, September 6, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Music Mountain
    Elevation:1400 ft / 426 m

Ascent Trip Report

I slept the night before in my truck at a rest stop on I-30 not too far from Hot Springs. I approached from the south via Hwy. 7, which becomes the main drag through town. Knowing I would stop for a park map, I carried only coordinates, trip reports (from peakbagger & cohp), and a topo of the peak area. When I stopped at the Visitor Center, the two volunteers at the desk said Hot Springs NP contained no Music Mountain. An actual ranger was at a desk in the adjoining room and heard their interesting response and came out to correct them and point out the approach road on the park map.

Northbound, I took the first major left after Bathhouse Row, which is Whittington Ave. It becomes a boulevard separated by a thin strip of national park, then becomes two way again before a city park. The road then begins to gain a bit of elevation and becomes Black Snake Road and at the crest is a small parking area (4-6 cars) for the Sunset Trail. A sign at the TH said the Recovery Act was funding work on 20 miles of trail in the NP.

The trend of the trail is generally southwest and turns south right near the summit. I didn't keep any notes on times, gain, or mileage. It was a fairly short hike, some gain but nothing real steep. It could be approached on a longer hike from the other end of the Sunset.

Heading south on the trail, the summit ridge was pretty obviously on the left as I approached and as the trail hit its highpoint, though their was no overall view from the trail due to the trees. I didn't see any semblance of trail, so just took the very short walk through the trees at a stack of rocks that may or may not have been a cairn. The highest area was hard to miss and I immediately saw the benchmark, raised on a metal pipe-like cylinder by something like 8-10 inches. Not far away was a similarly raised witness marker. I stepped on some rocks. With a lot of cohps & distance between that spot and work in Austin the next day, I only hung out at the top for a couple of minutes. The foliage was full and the views minimal. The register was unfortunate - it was in the familiar style, an apparently sealed glass jar between two cans. When I opened the jar, the dank smell was obvious and everything was damp. I didn't even take anything out - the damage would have been severe. I resealed it, put it back between the cans, and left it where I found it near the BM.

Leaving the area, I started a bit south of my line through the woods and did find a bit of a trail, but it was covered in grass and overgrown. It led out onto the Sunset just a bit south of where I went into the trees at a wooden mileage sign pointing out a couple of features a few miles down the trail.

The oddest experience was the fauna. Shortly after leaving the summit area, on the overgrown path, I almost stepped on a... turtle. He wasn't all that small, either, with a shell diameter of maybe 8 inches.

Quick walk back to the truck. I didn't see anyone while hiking, but saw people at the trailhead as I was both coming and going. My guess is that most trail users have no interest whatsoever in the highpoint, though the national park map (non-topo) does point out the summit.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack

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