The craggy knob that stands sentinel over Jasper is steeped in local history. Old-timers remember children hiking to the top for school picnics. They tell the tale of Wheelbarrow Steve who arrived one day with all his worldly goods in a wheelbarrow and took up residence in a dirt floored cabin on the mountain and how he sent off for a "mail order bride."
They talk about Dr. Adles, a Polish immigrant who came to New York to study medicine and did his internship at a New York hospital. It was rumored that he left New York when a rival for the woman he loved was murdered. He lived on Roundtop Mountain, keeping to himself and tending his vegetable and herb gardens, but he is credited with saving several lives because of his medical knowledge. In the late 1920s, he was found dead in his cabin, a victim, it was believed, of snake bite.
The most memorable event on Roundtop occurred on a foggy, cold night in February, 1948. Jasper residents gathered at the school gym heard the boom over the noise of a ballgame and rushed to the mountain to find a B-25 bomber had crashed into the rock bluff on the side of the mountain, killing the two man crew and a young soldier who was hitching a ride.
Today, Roundtop is owned by the Newton County Resource Council and extensive work has been done to develop a scenic trail around the mountaintop. The trail is easy to moderate. There is a short, steep uphill climb at the beginning. Then the Loop Trail follows the natural bench around the mountain and can easily be walked by most age groups. Take the right fork towards the crash site, where a memorial has been placed, after you reach the top of the hill. Those who might have difficulty negotiating the steep parts at the other end of the Loop Trail, can see the crash site, walk on around the mountain for the scenic views that have been opened up and a look at the bluffs, then return the same way they came. There are over 30 benches along the trail, providing adequate rest stops.
Those who go on will find a short climb on stone steps to the top of the bluff line, then a descent in several phases along similar steps back to the starting point. On this part of the trail, there is a bluff shelter where flint chips, ash in the soil and fire blackened rock tell the story of use by early peoples.
There is also a loop-within-loop called the Bluff Trail that follows the high points inside the circle the Loop Trail makes on the lower bench. These mountains were once a flat plain of sedimentary material laid down layer upon layer when this entire area was covered by an ocean of water. These layers were compressed and hardened into stone. The bluff line is formed from the Atoka sandstone formation and contains numerous rounded white quartz pebbles. Below that lies the Bloyd Formation, which consists of various types of shale and Kessler Limestone. Check the rocks for fossil remains of mollusks, scale tree fossils and crinoids, all evidence of their beginning under the sea.
Many of the trees along the trail are marked with stamped metal signs so you can identify the species. A field guide can be handy to identify the many species of wildflowers, ferns and mosses on the forest floor.
It is eight-tenths of a mile to the top of the hill. The Loop Trail is 2.2 miles long and the entire trail length is 2.78 miles.