Arkansas bills itself as “the natural state,” and it’s not an empty boast. We have over 1,800 miles of trails, 9,700 miles of streams and rivers, two mountain ranges, and 600,000 acres of lakes. We are rich in public lands, including the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, the Buffalo National Forest, and the Ouachita National Forest. We have caves, waterfalls, fantastic rock formations, fall foliage, plentiful campgrounds and wilderness camping that often doesn’t require a permit. In short, we are one of the most beautiful states in the US and a hikers dream!
If you’re a hiking enthusiast or a hiking newbie, we’ve put together a short list of some day hikes we think you’ll love. But we also encourage you to take longer hikes, to pitch a tent and camp and then keep going the next day, to enjoy morning coffee heated over a campfire. We love this beautiful state, and we want everyone to enjoy its fantastic offerings!
Lost Valley Trail just reopened last month, after having a bit of work done. It’s a short, relatively easy 2.2 miles roundtrip, and there are small caves and small waterfalls (especially in the rainy season!) along the way. This trail has two specific highlights: Cobb Cave, an impressive bluff shelter/natural amphitheater, and at the very end Eden Falls—a 35 foot waterfall in the cathedral room of a cave! Bring headlamps for everyone, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Go on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds. The first half-mile of the trail is wheelchair accessible.
Big Bluff & Goat
Clocking in at six miles roundtrip, this trail gives you a fantastic view of the biggest bluff between the Rockies and the Appalachians (550 feet tall). The Big Bluff/Goat Trail splits off from the Centerpoint Trail, so park at the Centerpoint trailhead. We cannot overstate the wonder of this view, but in places, the Goat Trail is narrow and dangerous. Don’t drink and hike, avoid this trail if you have a height phobia, and avoid bringing young children on this trail. Do bring plenty of water and snacks. There is a campsite where the Goat Trail meets Centerpoint, if you want to camp in the woods rather than in the nearby Steel Creek or Kyle’s Landing campgrounds.
Indian Rockhouse Trail is a three-mile loop with 400 feet of elevation change, that begins from Buffalo Point Campground. Highlights include water-sculpted rock, an abandoned mine, a waterfall, and an amazing large and open cave with a stream flowing through it.
Seven Hollows Trail is the showpiece of Petit Jean State Park. The trail is 4.5 miles, roundtrip, with 350 feet of elevation change, and it includes cool rock formations, a grotto with a waterfall, small caves, a small natural bridge, and nice views.
West Fork, Arkansas
Yellow Rock Trail, in Devil’s Den State Park, is a great place to catch fall foliage and a lovely hike year round. It’s 3.1 miles roundtrip, with a 400 foot change in elevation. The trail follows bluffs, so it’s probably not the safest hike for small children. There are nifty overhanging rocks, streams, and multiple overlooks.
Want more? Check out the Arkansas State Parks page for the trails closest to you!