Hiking Arkansas  by Janie & Wyatt Jones

Hiking Arkansas Guide Book

by Janie & Wyatt Jones (Falcon Guides)
Hiking Arkansas  by Janie & Wyatt Jones
Here are 68 of the best day hikes, nature walks, and backpacking options that the Natural State has to offer. From the barrier-free 0.4 mile Trees of the Forest Trail to 172 miles of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, Hiking Arkansas has memorable routes to please hikers of every stripe. The authors introduce you to the state's diverse environments via winding trails amid craggy sandstone bluffs, dramatic overhangs, and rock glades, and meandering paths through lowland hardwood forests, bayous, and wildlife sanctuaries.

© 2004 Janie and Wyatt Jones/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking Arkansas" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 68.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 68.

This trail passes through a lowland hardwood forest, travels alongside a bayou, and then tours the historic Arkansas Post town site. When traveling to Arkansas Post, one is struck by the simple beauty and vast solitude of the Mississippi Delta. The eye can see miles of flat, fertile farmland, with only an occasional farmhouse or granary dotting the horizon. Soybeans, rice, and cotton make this least populated region of Arkansas an important part of the state’s economy.
Gould, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This former mail route features spectacular panoramic views of the Ouachita Mountains. A mystical cave, located 35 feet below the trail on the south side of Brushy Mountain, adds to the hiker’s experience. Then, going upward, the trail passes some interesting rock formations and outcroppings about 150 feet before reaching the top Brushy Mountain at 1.7 miles. A short spur trail on the left leads to a great panoramic view at Eagle Rock Vista.
Glenwood, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.1
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This trail typifies the terrain of the Gulf Coastal Plain region, with bottomland, sandhills, and forest. White Oak Lake State Park, located in the Gulf Coastal Plain region of south Arkansas, presents a diversity of wild flora and fauna for visitors to study and enjoy. The Arkansas oak, an uncommon tree because of its specialized habitat, thrives in the park’s loamy sandhills. The tree’s acorns are a big draw for deer, squirrel, and turkey. Other wildlife sometimes seen at the park include the red-tailed hawk, black vulture, mourning dove, eastern cottontail rabbit, opossum, and raccoon.
Bluff City, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
Two connecting loop trails meander through a variety of wildlife habitats. The main trail’s surface is black shale; side trails are dirt. Ribbons are tied around some of the trees that line the path, and sandstone markers with etchings name the various plants and trees along the way. Species include bur oak, black cherry, willow oak, eastern red cedar, southern red oak, sweet gum, red gum, and the resurrection fern. The resurrection fern curls up in dry weather and appears dead but will become green again with the return of moisture, hence its name.
Mayflower, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
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This trail around the lofty heights of Mt. Nebo features huge sandstone boulders. Bench Road Trail follows an old roadbed that circles around the mountain just below Rim Trail. The trees of the forest are mostly hardwood; in spring and summer they shade the trail with a full, green canopy. Initially the trail is fairly level, but it soon begins to seesaw up and down. It features gray sandstone boulders that in some instances are 15 to 20 feet thick.
Dardanelle, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This trail loops through the forest below Bull Shoals Dam. Bull Shoals takes its name from the French word “boill,” meaning a large spring. Edmund Jennings was the first English-speaking visitor to the region, and he called it the “country of the six boills” but mispronounced the French word. It has been called Bull Shoals ever since. Walk south from the parking area along a paved road for almost 0.1 mile. Cross to the east side of the road and take off on a dirt path between cedar trees.An information board marks the beginning of the trail’s loop section.We took the left fork. This trail had the roughest surface of any that we hiked. Lichen-covered lime-stone rocks are firmly embedded in the ground.They are of various shapes and sizes—none smooth.
Flippin, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
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This trail, home to lots of interesting wildlife and plants, winds along Big Brushy Creek and shares part of its path with the Ouachita Trail. The area in and around Mount Ida and Hot Springs is also well known for its beautiful crystals. You can buy them at roadside displays, where their jeweled colors glitter in the sun, or you can obtain a permit to dig for your own crystals. Hiking in this district is a delightful experience to be enjoyed year-round. The trails are well maintained with easily accessed trailheads. Local citizens have also been involved by providing seed for the bird feeders and transplanting wildflowers. The trail is open year-round and is exceptionally pleasant in spring and fall. Brushy Mountain, Mountain Top, Rockhouse, and Brushy Creek Trails and a short portion of the Ouachita Trail combine to form the Big Brushy Trail Complex. Travelers may see flowing streams, waterfalls, geologic formations, and quiet woodlands along the trail.
Pencil Bluff, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.7
These trails make a consecutive loop through the park. Where one ends, the other begins. The route goes through woodlands and a historic town site, beside a river, and around a lake. Old Davidsonville State Park is centered around the site of what was once a bustling town. Now only a few artifacts remain. Old Davidsonville State Park gets high marks for several reasons. The trails are well maintained, park personnel are hospitable and helpful, and the campgrounds are very clean and safe. Camping here is a lot of fun, especially in the off-season. Within the solitude of the deep woods, the night wind sometimes carries the eerily beautiful refrains of a distant coyote chorus.
Hoxie, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
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This mostly hard-surfaced trail system, which passes through the Prairie Creek floodplain, was designed as a jogging and fitness trail set amidst a wildlife sanctuary. Lake Dardanelle provides some of the best recreational opportunities in Arkansas, from fishing and boating to picnicking and camping. The 34,000-acre man-made lake mirrors the twin cities of Russellville and Dardanelle about 85 miles northwest of Little Rock. It is 2 miles wide in places and has 315 miles of shoreline. With the Arkansas River Valley being one of the American bald eagle’s favorite wintering places, it is no surprise that the Lake Dardanelle area has a hiking trail that is also a sanctuary. Bona Dea Trails and Sanctuary, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, comprises 186 acres of wetlands and woodlands that provide haven for a variety of wildlife.
Russellville, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
The trail runs roughly parallel to the Buffalo River through wilderness areas and along multicolored palisades. The trail leaves the parking area, crosses AR 21 and Smith Creek, and starts meandering along a course that passes wide open fields, springs, several streams, and old homesites.
Clarksville, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 36.5
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This backpacking trail, which loops through Devil’s Den State Park and part of the Ozark National Forest, features scenic views, historic sites, waterfalls, and geologic benches. Devil’s Den State Park lies at the bottom of Lee Creek Valley in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas. Workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps built the major facilities there in the 1930s. Today the park can hold on to its bragging rights as one of Arkansas’s most beautiful areas, with its clear mountain streams, lush vegetation, and dramatic geological formations. A number of sight-seeing venues present themselves. Hop into the saddle and explore the countryside along 20 miles of horse trails. Don wading boots and hike Lee Creek Trail, Arkansas’s only designated creek trail. Take flashlight in hand and check out the caves on Devil’s Den Trail. At least six shorter trails attract day hikers, but we are going to describe Butterfield Trail, which is designed to be an overnight hike, although some people in good shape might do it in one day. It takes about eight to ten hours if you know what you’re doing.
Winslow, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 14.5
This trail parallels the shoreline of a peninsula extending into beautiful Lake Ouachita. This is one of the most pleasant hikes you are likely to experience. Views of the lake are consistently beautiful, quartz outcroppings are exceptionally pretty, and the breeze off the water is refreshingly pure. The challenge is neither too difficult nor too easy, making this the perfect day hike. This is one of the most pleasant hikes you are likely to experience. Views of the lake are consistently beautiful, quartz outcroppings are exceptionally pretty, and the breeze off the water is refreshingly pure.The challenge is neither too difficult nor too easy, making this the perfect day hike. According to a legend on the trailhead sign, the main trail is marked by yellow blazes. To return to the road, which leads back to the trailhead, follow the red blazes.
Hot Springs, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
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This trail winds down into Cedar Creek Canyon and ends at one of Arkansas’s tallest and most beautiful waterfalls. Petit Jean State Park is located atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton. Spectacular panoramas of the Arkansas River and surrounding farmland can be viewed from several lookout points. Petit Jean was the first state park in Arkansas, the land having been set aside in 1923 even before the Arkansas State Park System was established. Campgrounds are open year-round and located conveniently close to the hiking areas. Cabins and other modern lodgings are also available for those not inclined to rough it any more than necessary.
Oppelo, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.75
This paved out-and-back trail runs along the Lake Charles shoreline. Lake Charles State Park is located in the northeastern Ozark foothills where, millions of years ago, the land was covered by a huge ocean. Limestone, formed from seashells and coral over the eons, is today abundant along the Lake Charles shoreline. The 645-acre man-made lake was created in the 1960s by a cooperative venture involving the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Publicity and Parks Commission, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Soil Conservation Service, and several local residents. The place was named in honor of Charles Clayton Snapp, a visionary and driving force behind development of the lake and park. Each October the lake is lowered and the water used to flood timberland to the south in the Rainey Brake–Shirey Bay Wildlife Management Area, which is a designated rest stop for migratory waterfowl.
Powhatan, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.9
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This trail is shaded by lots of pine trees near the lakeshore. Maple, oak, and sweet gum trees are well represented along this easy-to-follow dirt trail, but pine trees predominate. Ground cover includes pokeweed and wildflowers. Mushrooms, the color of ripe tomatoes, are plentiful all along the trail. Virginia creeper is also abundant along the path, as is poison ivy, which has practically taken over the trailside in some places. Maple, oak, and sweet gum trees are well represented along this easy-to-follow dirt trail, but pine trees predominate. Ground cover includes pokeweed and wildflowers. Mushrooms, the color of ripe tomatoes, are plentiful all along the trail. Virginia creeper is also abundant along the path, as is poison ivy, which has practically taken over the trailside in some places. For the uninitiated, let us explain a major difference between Virginia creeper and poison ivy: Virginia creeper has five leaves to a cluster; poison ivy has only three leaves.
Caddo Valley, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.7
This trail meanders through a pine and hardwood forest and along the bank of White Oak Lake. The trail, blazed in blue, starts off on level ground that is thickly covered with pine cones. The most common southern pine is the loblolly, which can reach a height of 150 feet or more and can live 300 years under optimum conditions. Loblolly pines do well in the sandy, acidic soil of White Oak Lake State Park. Compared with Beech Ridge Trail, Coastal Plain Trail is curvier and has more ground cover and thicker vegetation along the edges. Grass also grows on the trail in some places.
Bluff City, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
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This trail features rolling hills, a woodland stream, and a boardwalk over the park pond. Geese honk on the pond, and flowers bloom along the pathway. The sweet nectar of yellow jasmine attracts a variety of butterflies: tiger swallowtails, spicebushes, and painted ladies, to name just a few.
McNeil, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.75
This ridge trail crosses arroyos through the hilly and curvy woodlands of Crowley’s Ridge. Dancing Rabbit Trail gets its name from a story told by Native Americans, who favored the area as a hunting camp. One day an Indian brave was pursuing a rabbit and cornered it in an arroyo. The rabbit jumped straight up in the air and kicked its feet before hitting the ground and taking off at a 90-degree angle. The rabbit’s “dance” left his surprised would-be slayer with nothing but a mouthful of dust.
Walcott, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
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This trail goes out onto a promontory overlooking Bull Shoals Lake. Because of the flowering dogwood, this trail is popular in springtime, but it’s also full of glorious color in autumn, with a red carpet on the ground and a canopy of burnt orange and yellow overhead. Besides sugar maples, other trees that flourish along Dogwood Trail include white oak, black cherry, hickory, and sugarberry.
Lakeview, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
This is the longest loop trail in the state of Arkansas. The Eagle Rock Loop Trail is very popular with out-of-state hikers as well as native Arkansans. The loop is a combination of parts of the Little Missouri, Viles Branch Equestrian, and Athens–Big Fork Trails. The southern section of the Little Missouri Trail is known as Winding Stairs. Because Winding Stairs is so distinctive, we describe it as a trail unto itself. The Eagle Rock Loop includes all but 0.7 mile of the south end of Winding Stairs and also encompasses 3.5 miles of the Viles Branch Equestrian Trail and most of the Athens–Big Fork Trail except the northern mile and the southern mile. The Eagle Rock Loop Trail, which crosses the Little Missouri River nine times and goes over nine mountains, allows you to go out and have a backpacking experience and never have to go over the same ground twice. You can leave a vehicle at one access point and hike back to it.
Glenwood, AR - Hiking - Trail Length: 26.8
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