7 Favorite Day Hiking Trails in Arkansas

Another tough 1 Question, 1 Answer survey when we asked you to name your favorite day hike in The Natural State. We put you to the test because it’s on our minds as the Fall quickly approaches bringing some of the best hiking weather of the year. The top seven picks all came from areas near the Buffalo River or from Arkansas State Parks, go figure. Find out more about hiking the Buffalo National River area here and Arkansas State Parks here. A lot of other trails were also mentioned including portions of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, Pedestal Rocks, and Sugarloaf Mountain among others. Here is your top seven.

#5 (tie) North Rim Trail, Mount Magazine State Park 6.15%

North Rim Trail, Mount Magazine State Park. (Photo by ADPT)
North Rim Trail, Mount Magazine State Park. (Photo by ADPT)

Although the state’s highpoint, Signal Hill, is covered in trees and doesn’t offer much in the way of views, the nearby North Rim Trail in Mount Magazine State Park, offers enough views to appease anyone striving for scenic views from above. The trail runs 2.2 miles starting at the park visitor center and heading west along the north rim of the mountain. Bluff views along the hike offer incredible views of the Arkansas River Valley. Watch the little ones as the trail follows the edge of high bluffs and take a camera. If you don’t want to double back on the trail, cross the road to the Mossback Ridge Trail for a 4.4-mile total hike back to the visitor center. The park offers camping, cabins, lodging and a restaurant, plus a lot more trails. (map)

#5 (tie) Yellow Rock Trail, Devil’s Den State Park 6.15%

Yellow Rock Trail, Devil's Den State Park.
Yellow Rock Trail, Devil’s Den State Park.

The Yellow Rock Trail at Devil’s Den State Park is a Fall favorite. Start the hike from the camping area trail head and walk past boulders and below bluffs. The trail is mainly up until you reach the Yellow Rock Overlook. Stop to take in the beauty of the Lee Creek Valley and the surrounding Boston Mountains. Once you’re done, take the trail toward the oldest CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) structure and enjoy the view of Devil Lake and the park below. Follow the trail back to the trailhead for a 5-6 mile hike. The park offers camping, historic cabins, a pool during the summer months and numerous other trails. For a shorter hike with kids try the Devil’s Den Trail which takes hikers past caves and crevices and around beautiful rock formations. (map)

READ  Planned Expansion of Buffalo Headwaters Trails Faces Forest Service Logging Plans

#5 (tie) Big Bluff/Goat Trail, Buffalo Wilderness Area 6.15%

Goat Trail, Buffalo Wilderness. (photo by ADPT)
Goat Trail, Buffalo Wilderness. (photo by ADPT)

The AO team did this trail a few years ago over a Thanksgiving weekend. The hike down from the Centerpoint Trailhead is relatively easy. Once you get out on the bluff, the views of the Buffalo River are inspiring. Located at a turn in the river, hikers get a birds-eye view of the first National River. Be careful with kids in this area, the bluff edge can be dangerous and a bit scary for those with a fear of heights. For a longer hike take the main trail on down to the Buffalo River and then follow it to Hemmed-In-Hollow where you can witness the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and Appalachians. This is best viewed after a bit of rain. Hope you brought some fuel, the hike out is pretty much all uphill. Remember that dogs are not allowed in this area. (map)

#4 (tie) Lost Valley Trail, Buffalo National River 7.69%

Lost Valley Trail, Buffalo National River. (photo by ADPT)
Lost Valley Trail, Buffalo National River. (photo by ADPT)

IT’S OPEN!!!

This trail did well in the voting despite the fact that it is closed indefinitely due to heavy erosion on the trail. Highpoints on the trail include the 53 foot, Eden Falls and Natural Bridge. Until it reopens, hikers will have to take advantage of the over 100 miles of trails in the Buffalo National River. (map)

#4 (tie) Indian Rock House Nature Trail, Buffalo National River 7.69%

Along the Indian Rockhouse Nature Trail, Buffalo Point.
Along the Indian Rockhouse Nature Trail, Buffalo Point.

Located at Buffalo Point, a camping and lodging area that was once part of the Arkansas State Park system and is now managed by the National Park Service, the Indian Rock House Nature Trail takes visitors back through various historical times in the area. The cave itself was the site of prehistoric Native Americans and along the trail, hikers encounter the entrance to an old Zinc Mine that was part of the early European settlers attempts at improving their economic position in the early 1900’s. On the way out hikers will come across the Rock Quarry which was used by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s to build the facilities in the park. (map) (more info)

READ  Planned Expansion of Buffalo Headwaters Trails Faces Forest Service Logging Plans

#2 Whitaker Point Trail, Upper Buffalo Wilderness 9.23%

Winter at Hawksbill Crag, Whitaker Point, Upper Buffalo Wilderness.
Winter at Hawksbill Crag, Whitaker Point, Upper Buffalo Wilderness.

One of the truly iconic places in Arkansas the Whitaker Point Trail leads to Hawksbill Crag. This short hike is a must for any hiker’s bucket list. A gentle downhill eventually leads to a Waterfall area before turning to follow the bluff line. Be careful along this area as it is slippery near the edges. Hikers will soon start to get glimpses of the Crag just before it opens up. The trip back is mainly up but gradual. There are no other amenities in the area so go prepared with food and water. (map) (more info)

#1 Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park 29.23%

Trail runner on Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park.
Trail runner on Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park.

The Seven Hollows Trail won by a large margin in our poll and for good reason. This trail is located in the area that lead to the creation of the Arkansas State Park system, an area deemed to rugged for economical logging operations. The trail leads hikers off the south side of Petit Jean Mountain. Taking the first left will lead visitors from the top of the mountain into a deep hollow that includes a wonderful Natural Stone Arch. Just past this point are “Turtle Rocks”, a unique rock formation looking much like the shells of turtles. The trail then heads west into another hollow where a short spur trail north leads to The Grotto, another unique feature with a small waterfall and water holding area below a rock overhang. This is a great place for a picnic. As the trail turns north, notice the rock walls as the trail meanders through a slot-like area with small caves to the sides. The Trail makes it way back to the parking lot at around 4 1/2 miles. Plan to spend some time in Petit Jean State Park since you’ve only scratched the surface of available trails and beautiful overlooks in the park. Area amenities include an historic lodge and cabins, restaurant, camping, small lake boating and more. (map)