Reaching a summit of 1,854 feet above elevation, Mount
Kessler is one of Fayetteville's greatest hidden treasures, tucked away in the
southwest corner of the city.
Running about 8.5 miles, the Mount Kessler Trail weaves through
private property owned by Frank Sharp. The trail was constructed by the local
mountain biking club, Ozark Off Road Cyclists, and has been steadily growing in
popularity amongst hiking and mountain biking communities. What's incredibly
unique about Mount Kessler is that it's a trail owned by Fayettevillians, built
by Fayettevillians for Fayettevillians (and all willing adventurers, of
All bikers and hikers are required to sign a waiver and
release of liability with Sharp before getting started.
The trailhead on Smokehouse Trail is easily accessible from
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and parking is available by Sharp's house or
further down the road. Smokehouse Trail will come to a fork, and Sharp's house
is on the left. If you see a beautiful stone house and some friendly goats and
dogs, then you'll know you're in the right place. There is also a trail access
point off of Finger Road, but the Smokehouse Trail trailhead is recommended.
Past Sharp's house, the road will curve uphill to the left. You will find the
trailhead shortly on the right, marked with a small gate and a red private
The first stretch of the trail is known as the Rock City
Trail. Beautiful rock formations and hillsides on the left are accompanied by
gorgeous views of the distant Prairie Grove and Fayetteville skylines to the
right. In the wintertime, Sharp said hikers and bikers can see as far as 1,000
miles acres across the valley below. The trail then winds into Rock City
itself, an area known for its stunning rock formations on either side of the
The next landmark on the trail is a fire pit, where the
trail will then split into a series of loops. The path on the far right leads
to the Spell Bound Loop, the path in the middle leads to Trent Trail and the
path on the far left leads to the Serpentine Loop, which later turns into the
Bloody Mary Trail. All loops circle back to the fire pit, and from there you
can return on the same path to the trailhead.
By opening up this beautiful mountain to the public, Sharp
said he hoped hikers and bikers will want to become "advocates," individuals
dedicated to seeking the preservation of the mountain in its natural state.
What makes exploring Mount Kessler so incredible is that unlike state parks or
local trails, this trail connects you directly to the history of the land.
Sharp was four years old when his parents bought their land and built the stone
home he still lives in. He has been working to conserve and maintain this piece
of Fayetteville soil his entire life, and by taking the time to go explore it,
we are helping to maintain it as well.