Last Call trail temporarily closed at Kessler Mountain

Map: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer / Enlarge Map

Parks officials have temporarily closed Last Call trail at Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville to allow the trail surface to recover from significant damage it received through heavy use during wet winter and spring conditions.

The closure includes the portion of trail from the lower intersection of Terrapin Station trail to the upper intersection with Terrapin Station near the bluff line.

The closure is expected to last for about four weeks with a re-opening tentatively scheduled for the week of June 17.

Trail users can still access the mountain by using Terrapin Station from the lower portion of Last Call as a connection to the top and into the larger trail system, or the original route up Judge Cummings Road to the lower end of the Trent Trail.

Ken Eastin, the city’s park planner, said heavy, record-setting precipitation has led to many significant seeps on the mountain, particularly below the bluff line. Those wet conditions, he said, coupled with improper trail use by cyclists and pedestrians, caused significant damage in several areas. The damage has been particularly concentrated on Last Call, which lies at a lower elevation on the mountain.

Eastin said when trails are used during wet conditions, rutting and disturbance caused by tires and feet creates puddling that lasts for long periods. As users continue to travel through those areas, they naturally attempt to avoid the wet areas by going around them. This leads to “trail spread” as the width of the trail in these areas quickly widens.

“This rapid damage decreases the sustainability of the trail, increases future drainage concerns, and severely increases the amount of work necessary to repair the damage,” said Eastin. “Since the city relies on volunteers for much of its natural-surface trail maintenance, we need assistance from trail users to protect our trails.”

Eastin said with many trail events scheduled at Kessler Mountain this summer, closing the trail is critical to allow damaged areas time to dry and to support volunteer reconstruction efforts. Volunteer efforts will be led by the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists (OORC), and will include durable stone tread armoring, so the trail surface will be better able to handle traffic during wet conditions with much less damage. Eastin said armoring the seeps and larger drainage areas with natural stone is a sustainable and lasting solution while preserving the current identified difficulty rating of Last Call. The armoring stone, he said, will be sourced off-site to avoid increasing the environmental impact on the mountain.