Things to Do in Arkansas – Family Friendly Hiking Trails

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Be honest. When I say Arkansas, what immediately comes to mind? Let me guess, Bill Clinton. Walmart? The Razorbacks! Sure, those are all very important things to the state of Arkansas (especially the Razorbacks), but what many people don’t realize is there are several outdoorsy things to do in Arkansas, especially in my favorite part of the state, northwest Arkansas.

things to do in arkansas family friendly hiking trails
We were there over my daughter’s Spring Break and had a great time. We camped, hiked and overindulged on fried foods at Lambert’s Cafe. It’s not what most people think of when planning a Spring Break trip, but it’s something we like to do. If you’re planning a trip to northwest Arkansas and only have a few days, here are my suggestions. Please note, my daughter is 6 and had no problems with the hikes I am suggesting, but that being said, every kid is different. She’s become a pro at putting one foot in front of the other. :)

Tent Camp at Kyle’s Landing

The road leading down to Kyle’s Landing can be a bit tricky. Many recommendations you’ll read suggest you have a high clearance vehicle. Most of the vehicles I’ve seen at this campsite include SUVs and pick-up trucks, but I’m sure part of that is because they are hauling kayaks and canoes. You could make it down the trail with a car, just be cautious if the conditions are wet and take your time.  And use common sense, this is a dirt road. If you don’t have traction on wet pavement, you certainly won’t have it on muddy roads. If someone is behind you and it makes you nervous (like it does to me), pull to the side and let them pass.

Kyle’s Landing is considered a primitive campsite. The campsites have a fire ring and a shepherds hook for a lantern.  During the mid-March to mid-November the water is turned on, which means there are flushable toilets and running water in the sinks. In addition to the 4-stall bathroom, there are vault toilets located throughout the campground. Be prepared and pack toilet paper. We camped there two nights in March (after the water was turned on…yay!) and by the second night, the toilet paper was gone in the womens restroom (boo!). They do have trash bins, so you don’t have to haul out your waste.

The crowd at Kyle’s can be hit or miss. Quiet hours are from 10 pm – 6 am and most people abide by them. The camp host is good about making the rounds and letting his presence be known. There are other campgrounds in Buffalo River to choose from, but this is our favorite because we can camp close to the river, which is nice for our dog Chloe, who loves the water.

Lost Valley Trail to Eden Falls

Trail to Eden Falls

Lost Valley Trail to Eden Falls

The next time I hike this trail, I’m going to take my GPS and see exactly how far it is. Some sites say 1.9 miles (out and back), others 2.4 but all sites rate the trail as varying from easy to moderate. This trail used to allow dogs, but we noticed on this visit, dogs were no longer welcome. However, signage or not, that didn’t seem to stop several people from bringing their dogs anyway. As a dog lover I get it, but I think the preservation of the trails are more important that my personal desire to bring my animals along.

lost valley hiking trail

Lost Valley Hiking Trail

 

Natural Bridge Lost Valley Trail

This family friendly hike offers plenty of places to explore.

The trail doesn’t get to moderate status until you pass the Natural Bridge. Then, you encounter several steps that will lead you to Eden Falls. Make sure you bring a headlamp or a flashlight if you choose to enter Cobb Cave to the waterfall room. Be careful as the running water makes the rocks slippery in spots. Our path of least resistance involved traveling along the right side of the cave as we entered it. It’s definitely worth the crawling and scrambling to see and hear the waterfall. Brecken was so impressed with the cave, she even wrote about it on her weekend report! Unfortunately I don’t have any photos from inside the cave, but trust me that it’s amazing, one of those things you have to see for yourself.

Hiking Whitaker Point Arkansas

Whitaker Point

 Whitaker Point/Hawksbill Crag

I hate heights, so it was really stupid of me to take my daughter here, since the majority of the time I was panicked about her slipping and falling over the edge. That being said, my husband has no fear and has to ground me sometimes. Literally and figuratively. He made sure B listened and explained why I wasn’t being crazy for being a little overprotective of her on this trail. This 2.7 mile hike (out and back) is also rated as moderate. The highlight of the trail is to make it to Whitaker Point, which is a crag, a rock formation that sticks out the side of a bluff. The view from this crag is amazing and you must get a picture of yourself standing on it. People actually sit very close to the edge (on the right hand side), as it’s pretty flat up there. It does get crowded since everyone wants that money shot so be patient and be respectful of everyone out there.

whitaker point trail arkansas
Just behind this crag is another spot for a photo opportunity, one I was a little more comfortable with. Even Chloe got in on the family portrait, since this trail was dog-friendly.

top of Glory Hole Falls Arkansas

Looking down into Glory Hole Falls

Glory Hole Falls

I read about this spot in Backpacker magazine and since it was a bit further south, we saved this trail for last. If it hadn’t been for all the cars parked along the highway, we would have driven right past the trailhead. We parked our Taco Truck (more on that name later) in the ditch and hiked the ~2 miles to the falls. Be prepared, going to the falls is easy, it’s mainly downhill. Coming back up isn’t difficult, but it may get your heart rate up a little if you’re not used to it.

bottom Glory hole arkansas

View looking up through Glory Hole Falls

Basically this waterfall is a stream that falls through a hole in the “ceiling” over a cave. Over time, the hole became bigger due to the water continuously passing through it. On the day we visited the falls, the water was steady but by no means, gushing through the hole as I’ve seen in other’s pictures. As you get to the falls, you can peer over the top of the hole but be cautious. Water is wet, and wet rocks are slippery. I realize this is common sense but when you see people on the trail doing stupid things just to get a good picture, you realize common sense doesn’t always prevail. After you get done looking through the top, you can hike down below the hole, into the cave and see Glory Hole from a different view.

Downstream from Glory Hole Falls.

Downstream from Glory Hole Falls.

Take a few minutes and follow the stream out of the cave. There are some neat rock formations to look at and it gets you away from the crowds at Glory Hole. B and I took our obligatory goofy picture, in a place where common sense prevailed! :)

If you’re in the area, take a weekend and explore the Buffalo River. Whether you’re into fishing, hiking, kayaking or even content with only camping, there something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve already made plans to go back in the fall.

What are your favorite outside activities?

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About Sarah

Mom. Blogger. Runner. Hiker. Insomniac. Not necessarily in that order.

Comments

  1. robin masshole mommy says:

    Oh fun! We love to hike, too. It looks like you have a lot of great trails out there.

  2. I had absolutely no idea that Arkansas was so gorgeous. I mean, I knew it had beautiful scenery, but I did NOT know it had so many rocky formations.

  3. Catherine S says:

    This looks like a great place to go on vacation. I would love to see Glory Hole Falls in person.

  4. I was blown away by Arkansas the first time my family visited. You just never think “natural wonderland” when you think Arkansas. I was so wrong.

  5. These pictures are amazing and beautiful!! I would love to take a trip to Arkansas!

  6. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. I have never been to Arkansas but I wouldn’t mind visiting now after reading your post. Thank you for sharing this great information.

  7. That’s a really pretty place to hike. There’s so many scenic areas!

  8. We went camping several years ago in Arkansas, looks like we need to go back and check this area out next.

  9. Wow, we’d definitely have to do some hiking. Those views are great! There isn’t a lot like that over here!

  10. Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. That crag trail would be an absolute must for us!

  11. My family loves exploring on outdoor adventures. I never know Arkansas had so many beautiful places like this to explore. I’m definitely going to have to add it to our travel bucket list!

  12. What a beautiful and amazing view. Hiking looks like more fun and really adventurous. Hope i can hike some other time.

  13. Crystal says:

    Wow, what great places to explore. M kids love to hikevwhen there are cool things to investigate, which is almost alwas. Hope to be on these trails soon.

  14. I drove through Arkansas two years ago and was surprised by its beauty.
    Your photos are gorgeous.

    • Thank you Joyce! It is a pretty state! I would love to live in the Bentonville area and have access to all the trails year round.

  15. Those are some incredibly gorgeous pictures! I would love to go hiking here with my family if we are ever in the area. Simply breathtaking!

  16. What a gorgeous location! My family would love some hiking at Whitaker Point. Simply breathtaking.

  17. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    I love to go hiking with my family. These look like fantastic trails to go explore.

  18. So many beautiful places to commune with nature. The Glory Hole Falls looks so cool!

  19. Love this! I’m always looking for places to go with the boychild I’m going to add this to the list, I see so many things we could do

  20. These sound like great places to hike. Now I want to visit Arkansas. Honestly when I think of Arkansas the Duggars come to mind as well. My family and I have been on this hiking craze lately. I think if we could we would check out these trails as well.

  21. Now that’s some hiking right there! Beautiful pictuers, and I’m sure beautiful memoreis to go with them too.

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