You've made your way past the slower traffic on Frontside
. You are still feeling pretty good and you want more miles before heading back to town. Enter Sweet Dreams. Expect small rocks, big rocks, rocks. It's got a few good climbs and rough descent down Sweetwater Gulch.
To get here, make your way to the end of the Backbone
Trail as it hits Cottonwood. Head down the Cottonwood drainage for a hundred feet or so and the trail crosses and climbs out of the Cottonwood drainage. The trail cruises along the side of a hill and down into a saddle where it swoops around and continues to the east. You'll see a social trail heading almost straight uphill on your right as you swoop around.
Here is where the trail starts to distinguish itself from the other close in trails of the Arkansas Hills system. You may still catch glimpses of town, you climb up and away from it through more trees. It begins to feel like a mountain trail and the rough rocks all over the trail and beside the trail grab for your feet. The climbing gets steeper with few breaks between climbs so take it easy and press on. Several recent reroutes have lessened the sting of a few of the climbs.
You do get a small downhill between big climbs.
At the end of the last big climb, you drop into a wide drainage scattered with good sized rocks to pick your way around and over. After navigating your way over these, you drop into the Sweetwater drainage. The rough rocks continue as you wind your way around boulders, trees, and sand. Some work has been done to help water drain off the trail.
At its narrowest, you'll ping-pong through slabs of rock where there is maybe a little water. As the drainage opens up again, the trail will run along it and hop across and out to the left with a short, punchy climb. It then drops into the drainage again and over a large wooden structure leftover from days past. A couple more turns and you hit a doubletrack road. You can take a right on this to head back to town or the little trail directly across the doubletrack.