It may come as a surprise to some that Arkansas offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country. There are countless trails that lead to tranquil destinations, mesmerizing waterfalls, historical landmarks, and spectacular views that stretch out as far as the eye can see. We’ve done the research to narrow down the 18 absolute
best hikes in Arkansas and have compiled them into an easy-to-reference list for you below.
Best Hikes in Arkansas
When it comes to hiking in the Wonder State, you’ll find a vast selection of scenic, lush, and beautiful trails. But the following hand-selected trails rise far above the rest for their pristine beauty, iconic landmarks, refreshing waterfalls, or all of the above. Read on to discover the
best hikes in Arkansas to add to your adventuring bucket list. 1. Whitaker Point Trail
Hawksbill Crag/Whitaker Point, Co Rd 406, Kingston, AR 72742, USA
Location: Ozark National Forest, Pettigrew, Arkansas Mileage: 2.7 miles out and back Difficulty: Moderate FYI: There is a designated parking area at the trailhead off of County Road 5; however, be prepared to park further down the road during the busy summer months, as this trail is quite popular on warmer days. Leashed dogs are welcome on this trail.
The beautiful Whitaker Point Trail is buried deep in the lush Ozark National Forest. People travel from around the U.S. to hike to the infamous
, which is easily the most photographed bluff in the state, and for good reason. A fun fact you'll love: Hawksbill Crag was even featured in the Disney film
You can also extend your hike to see some of the
that can be found by branching off to the right at the trailhead. You'll agree the extra trek is worth it to explore these beautiful waterfalls.
2. Lost Valley Trail
Lost Valley Trailhead, Lost Valley Rd, Kingston, AR 72742, USA
Location: Ponca, Arkansas Mileage: 2.3 miles out and back Difficulty: Moderate FYI: There are approximately 0.9 miles of accessible trail before you encounter stairs, rocky surfaces, and an eventual stream crossing. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Lost Valley Trail
is found within the newly renovated Buffalo National River area of northern Arkansas. This picturesque trail leads you alongside Clark Creek and past a few natural bridges en route to your end destinations of Eden Falls and Cobb Cave. The idyllic Eden Falls alone is reason enough to embark upon this relatively short trail.
You may encounter a few stream crossings, so come prepared with waterproof shoes or water shoes, spare socks, and hiking poles for added stability for the more challenging portions of this trail.
3. Centerpoint to Goat Trail Location: Ponca, Arkansas Mileage: 5.9 miles out and back Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Be aware that, due to the popularity of this trail, the parking lot for the Centerpoint Trailhead fills up quickly. Leashed dogs are welcome. Centerpoint to Goat Trail
offers some of the best views in all of Arkansas; as a result, this trail is quite popular, so you'll want to arrive at the parking lot early to grab a spot.
Enjoy the lush scenery along your path as you make your way toward the 550-foot Big Bluff, which overlooks the stunning Buffalo River Valley. This section of the trail is not cut out for kids or those who are sensitive to heights, but otherwise, you'll enjoy soaking in these views from the bluff and all throughout this scenic trail.
Best Short & Easy Hikes in Arkansas
There is plenty of nature to immerse yourself in, even if you may only be a beginner or less experienced hiker. These short and
easy hikes in Arkansas offer gorgeous views and tranquility and are very accessible to just about every level of hiker. You’ll find something to love along each of these beautiful trails that can be easily hiked and enjoyed year-round. 4. Tanyard Loop
Tanyard Creek Loop 2, Bella Vista, AR 72715, USA
Location: Bella Vista, Arkansas Mileage: 2.2-mile loop Difficulty: Easy FYI: The trail is on private property but is open to the public. Dogs are allowed and may be off-leash in certain areas. Tanyard Loop
is the perfect trail for a family outing or a stroll with your furry friend with thrilling scenery throughout. The real treat, however, is Tanyard Creek Falls and its associated (small) swimming hole. You'll likely find crowds here on the weekends, but try the trail on a weekday morning for a more secluded stroll.
Tanyard Loop is well-marked and easy to follow. There are also several options to branch off the trail for an extended hike if desired. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more scenic and achievable hike in Arkansas than Tanyard Loop.
5. Bear Cave Trail
Bear Cave Trail, 1285 Petit Jean Mountain Rd, Morrilton, AR 72110, USA
Location: Morrilton, Arkansas Mileage: 1.1-mile out and back trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: While this trail is technically rated "easy", do be aware there are sections of slippery rocks and exposed tree roots in some areas. Leashed dogs are welcome on this trail.
It won't take you long to uncover all that makes
Bear Cave Trail
such a unique and fairytale-like trail. Otherworldly rock formations are found all along the trail, including some small caves and narrow passageways that really bring out one's inner sense of adventure. It's not hard to see why this is one of the top-rated trails in
Petit Jean State Park
You'll find yourself enamored with these enormous and fascinating stone structures that make Bear Cave Trail a true gem to explore. Check on the views from the bluff to really round out the experience. And the cherry on top is that this trail is accessible to almost all levels of hiking ability.
6. Grand Promenade
The Grand Promenade, Hot Springs, AR 71901, USA
Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas Mileage: 0.7-mile out and back trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: This short and easy trail is located within Hot Springs National Park. There is no entry fee to enter the park. Dogs are allowed if they are leashed.
If you're looking for short and sweet,
is the trail for you. There is virtually no elevation gain, making this perhaps the most accessible trail in the state. There is even a ramp to allow wheelchair access to this trail from Fountain Street or behind Fordyce Bathhouse, and an accessible parking space there as well, making this truly a trail for all to enjoy.
Additionally, while the trail may be a popular one at times, it is widely spaced throughout, with plenty of room for all. Enjoy a warm, sunny stroll along the paver-stoned pathway as you pass by the historic Bathhouse Row, along with other historic and charming buildings. Be sure not to miss the interesting informational markers all along the way.
Hardest Hikes in Arkansas
Perhaps you’re a seasoned hiker looking to add some extra challenge to your hiking experience while still exploring beautiful destinations. We’ve done the research for you and found that the following trails are arguably some of the
hardest hikes in Arkansas. They’re worth the added effort for the incredible views and scenery they offer. And bonus points for avoiding the crowds on these gorgeous – if strenuous – Arkansas trails. 7. Athens-Big Fork Trail
Athens-Big Fork Trail Head, Weyco Rd 53800, Umpire, AR 71971, USA
Location: Mena, Arkansas Mileage: 17.8 miles out and back Difficulty: Hard FYI: This popular backpacking trail welcomes leashed dogs, but be aware that you'll likely need a high-clearance AWD or 4WD vehicle to navigate the road to the trailhead. Athens-Big Fork Trail
may be the epitome of a backpacker's paradise. But make no mistake: you'll need to put in some work for this one. Because it is such a great distance, it's better to split up the trail over two or three days, so you'll need to come prepared with all the
Not only is this trail lengthy, but it also packs in some serious elevation gain of 5,518 ft in total. Your quads and calves are likely to feel the pain after this one, but you'll find that the views you'll encounter will make the struggle worth the effort.
8. Lake Sylvia to Crystal Prong Creek via Ouichita Trail
Lake Sylvia, Arkansas 72126, USA
Location: Perryville, Arkansas Mileage: 20-mile out and back trail Difficulty: Hard FYI: This trail is best approached as a backpacking excursion. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas. Lake Sylvia to Crystal Prong Creek via Ouichita Trail
is another trail that pulls heavy weight in both the distance and elevation gain departments. But the real plus with this trail, aside from its endless natural beauty of all varieties, is that you're unlikely to encounter another soul on this hike. And if you do, they'll likely be few and far between.
A few additional bonus tips: there are several newly updated shelters along this path, such as the Oak Mountain Shelter, which make for great options for those that would like a little more respite and protection from the elements of nature. Additionally, you'll find some water about 5 miles in, just in case you happen to run out along the way.
9. Ponca Wilderness and Buffalo National River Loop
Buffalo National River Wilderness - Ponca Unit, Compton, AR 72624, USA
Location: Jasper, Arkansas Mileage: 17.2-mile loop Difficulty: Hard FYI: You'll want to leave dogs at home: they aren't permitted on this trail. Be sure to bring water shoes and be aware that portions of the path are overgrown with willow thickets. There is an alternate path along the river to the 11.4 point. Ponca Wilderness and Buffalo National River Loop
will truly test your route-finding abilities, as a good portion of the trail is overgrown with thickets from Kyle's Landing until the river crossing at mile marker 11.4. It is recommended that you download the offline trail map if you choose to follow the
route suggested by AllTrails
Alternatively, you can adorn your water shoes and follow along the river until mile marker 11.4, after which the trail should be clear of thickets and much easier to navigate. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll find plenty of hidden campsites along your path. This trail is sure to bring out the ultimate adventurer in you.
Best Waterfront Hikes in Arkansas
There’s just something about hiking along the water’s edge on a hot summer day. Water soothes the soul and offers the perfect respite from the daily stressors of life.
Hiking in Arkansas is magical in this way, as there are seemingly endless hiking trails that meander alongside rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Browse below to discover some of the best waterfront hikes in Arkansas. 10. Falls Branch Trail
Falls Branch Trail, Fls Br Trl, Arkansas 71913, USA
Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas Mileage: 1.7-mile loop Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Waterproof shoes and hiking poles are advised due to slippery rocks and occasional mud and watery portions of the trail. Dogs are welcome if they are leashed. Falls Branch Trail
is an incredibly scenic trail located in Lake Catherine State Park along the Ouachita River about an hour southwest of Little Rock. You'll encounter a handful of Little Canyon Creek crossings en route to Fall Lake Falls, so plan accordingly with your attire.
As the trail's name would suggest, Falls Branch Trail is one of the best hikes in Arkansas to tackle in the fall when the leaves change colors, but you'll find that it's beautiful and well worth hiking any time of year.
11. Lake Leatherwood Loop
Lake Leatherwood, Eureka Springs, AR 72632, USA
Location: Eureka Springs, Arkansas Mileage: 2.4-mile loop Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Trail is open year-round and is dog-friendly. Dogs may be off-leash in some areas. Lake Leatherwood Loop
is a peaceful, picturesque trail located within Lake Leatherwood City Park. The path leads you alongside the lake itself (you'll love crossing the handmade bridge over the lake) and is quite tranquil. You may even spot wildlife that frequents the area. What's great is that this trail is challenging enough to get your blood flowing, yet achievable enough to complete in just under an hour, so you can fit it easily into your daily or weekend activity routine.
And here's a fun tip: if you're into Geocaching, you'll find several geocaches along this trail, so keep your eyes peeled for those hidden treasures! Who knew
hiking in Arkansas
could offer so much excitement?
12. Lake Fayetteville Paved Trail
Lake Fayetteville Park, 1153 E Lake Fayetteville Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72764, USA
Location: Johnson, Arkansas Mileage: 5.4-mile loop Difficulty: Moderate FYI: This popular year-round trail is dog-friendly; dogs may be allowed off-leash in some areas. There are 2 designated accessible parking spaces in the paved parking lot off East Zion Road at the south end of the trail. The trail surface is paved asphalt or concrete and smooth, but a few sections may be too steep for some wheelchair/mobility device users. Lake Fayetteville Paved Trail
is a beautiful urban trail that loops around the lovely Lake Fayetteville. While this trail is quite popular due to its location, accessibility, and scenery, you'll still find plenty of breathing room and natural beauty to soak in that makes navigating occasional crowds worthwhile.
Depending on the time of day (and season) that you conquer this trail, you'll likely encounter wildlife and perhaps even wildflowers in spring and summer. And you'll be enamored with the sunsets and sunrises reflecting off of these tranquil waters.
Best Winter Hikes in Arkansas
Hiking shouldn’t be restricted to summertime only; in fact, there are many trails in Arkansas that are even more magical in the winter. The added bonus of hiking in the winter is that you’re far less likely to deal with crowds of people. And, fewer bugs! There is plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy in wintertime, so if that’s your vibe, we recommend you explore the following
best winter hikes in Arkansas. 13. Shores Lake West Side Trail
Shores Lake, Arkansas 72947, USA
Location: Winslow, Arkansas Mileage: 11.2 miles out and back Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Open year-round and dog-friendly provided they are leashed.
Shores Lake West Side Trail
begins near White Rock Mountain in northwestern Arkansas. This trail takes you deep into the dense and heavily treed Ozark Forest, making it a great option for those looking for a less crowded hiking or backpacking experience.
This trail can become a bit overgrown in the summer, which is why we recommend tackling this trail in the wintertime for easier navigation. Be sure to bring trekking poles for added stability during the more slippery or steep sections of the trail.
14. Williams Hollow Trail
Williams Hollow, Arkansas 72776, USA
Location: Garfield, Arkansas Mileage: 2.7-mile loop Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Parts of the trail are grassy and overgrown, but ticks should not be as big of an issue (if at all) during winter. Still, just be aware and check your pets after this hike. Williams Hollow Trail
at Pea Ridge National Military Park is a great option for a winter hike for many reasons: it offers far more than nature and pretty scenery (although, you'll find no shortage of both on this trek). Along the trail, you'll find several historic buildings and landmarks to add a bit of mystery and intrigue to your hike. And you'll love how secluded it is: you're unlikely to cross paths with many (if any) people during your hike.
During the summertime, ticks can be a problem on this trail, which is another reason why we recommend hiking this one in the winter. Plus, with the ability to complete this hike in one hour, it's a great option to get the blood flowing, enjoy nature (mixed with a bit of history), and still have plenty of time to spare in your day.
15. HWY 123 Falls Location: Hagarville, Arkansas Mileage: 0.1 miles out and back Difficulty: Moderate FYI: This short trail is both kid and dog-friendly (dogs must be leashed). Scenic hike year-round and is unlikely to be crowded.
If you're looking for a hike that's short, sweet, and scenic,
HWY 123 Falls
is the trail for you. This roadside hike leads you to a stunning 47-foot waterfall that can even be viewed from your car! But you'll want to stretch your legs and walk the few steps to this waterfall.
While the water may be running lower in the wintertime, you'll still find that the surrounding scenery is beautiful. HWY 123 Falls is worth the quick roadside stop to take a quick view with minimal effort required.
Best Hikes near Little Rock
If you’ve got a visit to Arkansas’ capital city of Little Rock on your agenda this year, you’ll be pleased to discover that there are many hikes of all difficulty levels within a short distance of the city. Below are a selection of the
best hikes near Little Rock, and here’s a spoiler: the views they provide are both expansive and jaw-dropping. 16. Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail
Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail, RGQ4+PP, Little Rock, AR 72135, USA
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas Mileage: 1.2 miles out and back Difficulty: Hard FYI: This trail is on the rugged side, so you'll want to come prepared with sturdy hiking shoes or boots, and hiking poles are an added bonus to help stabilize if you encounter loose rock. Dogs are permitted but must be leashed. Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail
has it all: breathtaking scenery and views that you simply cannot top anywhere else in the state, so it's a no-brainer that it gets our vote for being one of the best hikes in Arkansas. But be prepared: you'll need to navigate a good bit of rocks and rugged trail surface to reach the top, but the views of Lake Maumelle, the Ouachita Mountains, and the Arkansas River Valley are well worth the challenge.
If you retrace your steps the way you came, this will make for a gentler descent than by trying to continue down the eastern portion of this trail. Come prepared with sturdy shoes and trekking poles, and you'll truly be rewarded with unbeatable views.
17. Pinnacle Mountain East Summit Trail
Pinnacle Mountain East Summit Trailhead, Roland, AR 72135, USA
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas Mileage: 1.4 miles out and back Difficulty: Hard FYI: This eastern segment of the Pinnacle Mountain Summit trail is more rugged than its counterpart and requires some boulder scrambling. You'll want to follow the RED and WHITE blazes for the duration of this trail. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed. Pinnacle Mountain East Summit Trail
is the more rugged counterpart to the western portion of this trail and will require quite a bit more rock scrambling to reach the sweeping views at the top. But for some, that may be just the taste of adventure they are looking for.
This trail may only be 1.4 miles in length, but it packs a punch for such a short hike. Just remember to follow the red and white blazes both up and back, so that you end up back at the same parking lot you began your hike from.
18. Rocky Valley Trail/East Quarry Spur
Rocky Valley Trail, Arkansas 72223, USA
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas Mileage: 2.9-mile loop Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Located within Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and no entrance fee is required. There is a scenic quarry pond that offers paddle boat rentals and overlooks the Arkansas River. Leashed dogs are welcome on this trail.
Last but not least on our best hikes in Arkansas list is the gorgeous
Rocky Valley Trail/East Quarry Spur
in Pinnacle Mountain State Park. This area is truly a fan-favorite among our readers, as well as residents and visitors to the park. It won't take you long to discover why this is one of the
best places to hike in Arkansas
This invigorating trail is beautiful to hike year-round. It is well-marked, shady (making it a great option to escape the summer heat!), and a good workout without eating your entire day away. You'll adore the scenery and majestic views you'll encounter along this trail.
Which of these
best hiking trails in Arkansas are you most excited to explore? Are there any amazing trails we missed that you think belong on this list? Let us know in the comments below so we can consider featuring them in future publications.
for easy access to trail information including difficulty ratings, elevation gain, topographic maps, and more! You can even record your route to track your progress and help you avoid losing your trail. It’s an invaluable tool for hikers, backpackers, and adventurers of all types. Try AllTrails+ For Free
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More to Explore
Best Hikes In Arkansas
Does Arkansas have good hiking trails?
Arkansas has many good hiking trails! In fact, you'll find endless hiking trails for all experience levels, each offering something special. Following is a list of some of the best hiking trails in Arkansas:
For a more comprehensive list of Arkansas' best hiking trails, you'll want to check out these
12 best hikes in Arkansas - one for each month of the year!
What are the best months to hike in Arkansas?
The best months to hike in Arkansas are going to encompass mainly the fall, winter, and spring months when the temperatures are milder and bugs like mosquitoes and ticks are scarce. Summer hiking in Arkansas can be great if you're properly clothed, search for trails that aren't overgrown, and stay hydrated to combat the summer heat.
For ideas on hiking essentials, peruse our
Ultimate Packing List which includes everything from proper clothing and attire, shoes, trekking poles, water packs, and more. This list will help you prepare yourself for all types of hiking, learn how to protect yourself against the elements, and even camp and backpack safely any time of year.