The lovely weather means that it’s time to get out into nature and enjoy all the Natural State has to offer, and that should probably require some hiking, right? Below you’ll find 11 short hikes that you’ll love, all less than 3 miles long. Some of them are easy and some are moderately difficult, but all are totally delightful.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
11. Warren Hollow Trail (Lake Fort Smith State Park)
Length: 1 mile round trip
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
With an entrance immediately behind the visitor center, this short trail is a great way to see the forest near Lake Fort Smith, and the lake is always a gorgeous sight. Before you enter the trail, I also recommend you stop at the overlook and check out the view, which you can see part of above. It’s pretty incredible as well.
10. Lost Valley Trail (Buffalo National River Area)
Length: 2.1 miles round trip
Lost Valley is one of the most exceptionally beautiful places in the Buffalo River area, and there’s a short trail that can show you a great deal of that wonder. Lost Valley Trail begins at a camping area and ends at a cave. Along the way you’ll see some incredible sights, including waterfalls, a creek, cliffs, a natural bridge, a large bluff shelter, and just the gorgeous green of the forest all around. The first half mile of the trail is so easy it’s wheelchair accessible, but the trail is rated as moderate overall because of the decrease in ease after that point.
9. King’s Bluff Loop Trail (Pedestal Rocks Recreation Area)
Length: 1.7 miles
You may get to see an impressive waterfall along this trail, though during dry spells the waterfall is reduced enough to be somewhat less impressive. What is always impressive is the view from King’s Bluff Trail. The trail is moderately difficult, but the views of one of Arkansas’s most impressive geologic areas are well worth it.
8. Alum Cove Natural Bridge Trail
Length: 1.2 miles
The Alum Cove Natural Bridge is a geologic wonder of the Natural State. It’s one of the largest natural bridges in our region. It’s so wide, in fact, that pioneers used it as an actual bridge. On the Alum Cove Trail you’ll get the chance to explore the stunning bridge. The trail is moderately difficult, but it is also very short.
7. Mill Creek Loop (Buffalo National River Area)
Length: 1.4 miles
Mill Creek Loop begins at the Pruitt Launch on the Buffalo and takes you to a historic homestead and cemetery, allowing you to get the best of Arkansas’s natural beauty and history of intrepid pioneers who set up their homes on the edge of the wilderness.
6. White Rock Rim Trail (White Rock Mountain Recreation Area)
Length: 1.6 miles
White Rock Mountain is in the Ozark National Forest, which already makes it pretty appealing, right? Rim Trail takes you through some sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it one of the best places to see the Ozarks. The trail is short, and pretty easy, though you should reconsider bringing small children along on this adventure. Those drop offs are no joke.
5. Falls Branch Trail (Lake Catherine State Park)
Length: 1.6 miles
Located in the state park that surrounds one of Arkansas’s five Diamond Lakes, Falls Branch Trail is notable not only because of its beauty, but because it leads to a gorgeous waterfall not far from the lake’s shore. Falls Creek Falls is lovely and the water beneath serves as a swimming hole in the summer. Since it’s so easy accessible, you really don’t have any excuse not to visit.
4. Beech Ridge Trail (White Oak Lake State Park)
Length: 1.6 miles
Beech Ridge Trail is short, easy, and gives you the opportunity to explore a gorgeous Loblolly forest at White Oak Lake State Park. This South Arkansas treasure won’t take you much time to hike, and you’ll enjoy the dense hardwood forest so much.
3. Benefield Loop Trails (Mount Magazine State Park)
Length: 2 miles
As with any trail on Mount Magazine, you can count on stunning views from Benefield Loop Trail’s two loops. The East Loop takes you past stone fences to beautiful views of Bear Hollow. The West Loop brings you across the highway to a wonderful wildlife pond, where it connects with another lovely trail. These two trails come in at almost exactly 2 miles if you take both, the East Loop is 1.1 miles long and the West Loop is .9 miles.
2. Rock House Cave Trail (Petit Jean State Park)
Length: .25 miles
Rock House Cave Trail isn’t short—it’s tiny. The shortness of the trail doesn’t mean it’s boring, though, as Rock House Cave is an extraordinary place to explore ancient geology and Native American rock art. Rock House Cave isn’t a real cave at all, it’s actually a large rock shelter where Native Americans once made a home.
1. Whitaker Point Trail (Buffalo National River Area)
Length: 3 miles round trip
Whitaker Point is probably one of the most recognizable natural spots in the Natural State, and it’s iconic for its incredible beauty. There’s nowhere quite like it in the whole world, and the trail you’ll take to get there is both easy and brief. You need to be really, really careful on the crag, of course. You wouldn’t want to fall off of the prettiest place in the world.