It is not that common to hear people mentioning Arkansas as a bucket list hiking destination. However, if you give this state a try, you’ll undoubtedly be taken by surprise. Known nationally as the Land of Opportunity and The Natural State, Arkansas offers hikers the opportunity to explore the natural wonders that can be found in this scenic state.
Arkansas is undoubtedly one of The United States’ prime hiking destinations. From leisurely scenic strolls to strenuous long-distance treks, hikers of all experience levels will find Arkansas to be a paradise for outdoor activity. Popular trails include Lost Valley Trail and Whitaker Point Trail.
You will soon find out why Arkansas should be on your bucket list for an unforgettable hiking adventure. Whether a newbie hiker or a seasoned trail expert, you will undoubtedly find great joy and create lasting memories by exploring the Natural State. Discover why Arkansas should be the destination for your next hiking adventure.
Hiking In Arkansas
It is honestly a wonder why Arkansas has not received more attention for the quality hiking experience that it has to offer. Indeed, the Natural State’s scenic parts look like something out of a movie. With a wide range of epic hiking trails available, there is no way that Arkansas will ever leave hikers feeling disappointed.
One of the greatest parts about the outdoors in Arkansas is how diverse this state is. Hikers in Arkansas can expect a wide range of opportunities for adventure, including trekking through lush, dense forests, climbing breathtaking mountain ranges, stopping by and enjoying exquisite waterfalls, and perhaps even exploring some caves.
Perhaps another factor that could equally be considered the best part is that you do not have to be a highly experienced hiker to enjoy all that The Natural State offers. Indeed, even if you have never been on a proper hike before, Arkansas has the perfect beginner-friendly trails that still provide beautiful views and exciting adventures.
Regarding when you should ideally plan to visit The Natural State for an outdoor adventure, the best time to go hiking in Arkansas is during the Fall months when the extreme heat and humidity of summer has somewhat dissipated. On the other hand, Winters are known to be cold and wet, so although it is possible, it is not the best time to hike here.
The Best Hiking Trails In Arkansas
Alright, since we have covered all of the necessary preparation, it is time to dive straight into the fun part by showing you a few of the best hiking trails in Arkansas. The Natural State is riddled with several hiking trails encompassing many hundreds of miles. While listing them all will not be possible; we will show you the trails that you do not want to pass by.
Lost Valley Trail
The Lost Valley trail sounds like something out of a movie, and thankfully the experience lives up to its intriguing name. Lost Valley Trail is a relatively easy, roughly three-mile hike offering absolutely stunning scenery. Enjoy the breathtaking forest walk and enjoy a few smaller waterfalls before reaching the magnificent 60-foot Eden Falls.
The Lost Valley Trail also has a picnic pavilion and even a public restroom. And the best news is that this trail is free to enjoy! This is a beautiful, easily accessible hiking trail that is perfect for taking a break from the busyness of life.
Whitaker Point Trail
The Whitaker Point Trail is undoubtedly one of Arkansas’ most popular hiking spots. This moderately difficult hiking trail is surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, and hikers will be able to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views that The Natural State has to offer.
Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag, was even used for filming a few scenes in Disney’s Tuck Everlasting. It is also a pretty popular place for proposals to take place. With that in mind, it is understandable that you probably won’t be the only person hiking at this spot when you choose to go. Once again, despite its popularity, Whitaker Point is free to explore.
Signal Hill Trail
A list of some of the greatest hiking trails in Arkansas would not be complete without making mention of the Signal Hill Trail. At the Signal Hill Trail, hikers will have the opportunity to trek to the highest point in Arkansas. That’s right, at nearly 2,800 feet above sea level, hikers will be able to enjoy some incredible views of the wonders of Mount Magazine State Park.
This trail’s difficulty level ranges from easy to moderate, meaning that hikers of all skill levels will be able to enjoy this epic hiking spot. The colors here during Fall are part of the reason that this spot is so popular. The various flowers and foliage that form part of the surroundings undoubtedly add to the magic of Signal Hill.
Preparing For A Hike In Arkansas
It is no secret that preparation is not only the key but also a vital aspect of enjoying any hike. What makes hiking one of the most popular outdoor activities is that it is relatively inexpensive – most hiking trails are free to explore – compared to most other outdoor activities.
While that is in itself is not a bad thing and undoubtedly great news for all hikers, there are often many cases in the hiking world of people biting off more than they can chew – so to speak. Embarking on a strenuous hiking trail without any prior research and having a low fitness level is a sure way to have the worst time – no matter how great the views are.
Before embarking on any hike, thoroughly research the hiking trails you are considering and assess whether or not your current fitness level and physical capability will be up to par. There is no shame in not being able to dive into one of Arkansas’ strenuous hikes on your first time.
If necessary, start with one of The Natural States’ many hiking trails considered easy to moderate difficulty and are not too much of a long distance. Even the shorter, more accessible hikes in Arkansas offer breathtaking scenery, meaning you will not be disappointed. Gradually work your way higher by increasing the difficulty of your hikes – you will find that every time you try a new hiking trail, you will be stronger and fitter.
What To Wear For A Hike In Arkansas
The next thing to consider when preparing for a hike in Arkansas – or practically anywhere for that matter – is making sure that you wear the appropriate clothing. Indeed, not having the proper clothing and shoes is a certain way to make your hike an unpleasant experience. Let’s cover what you should wear for a hike in Arkansas, from shoes to clothing.
Undoubtedly, one of the vital aspects of any hike is ensuring that you wear a good pair of shoes. Since you will be on your feet the whole time, they are the first thing that will start to hurt if not given proper support and strength.
For short, casual day hikes, a good pair of trainers or walking shoes should do the trick but perhaps are not the best option to consider for long-term use. A good pair of hiking shoes or boots will undoubtedly become your best friend if you invest in a pair. Hiking shoes are designed to handle the uneven, rocky, and often slippery terrain the most hiking trails are known for.
You by no means need to go out and purchase a top-of-the-range pair of hiking shoes; even an entry-level pair will more than suffice.
As previously mentioned, Fall is undoubtedly the best time to go hiking in Arkansas. The weather is mild yet remains sunny and pleasant. For the most part, a standard pair of shorts and a t-shirt that you are okay with getting dirty will be perfect for your hike. However, materials with high breathability are recommended to keep you cool and dry.
The mornings during Fall in Arkansas can be a little on the colder side, so make sure to bring a suitable jacket to keep yourself warm until the day heats up a little. Over preparing is a good thing when it comes to hiking, so instead, make sure to cover all of your bearings than end up feeling under-prepared and in need.
If you know that you will be hiking during the colder months, ensure that you layer up as much as possible. Rather have too many layers that you can remove than too few, wishing you had more. Try to avoid cotton pants, as they are likely to get wet during the colder months, which will dampen your experience and make you cold.
A hat is also an excellent idea for any and every hike. Even if you walk through scenic, shady forests, you would rather have that extra protection from the sun. As a final thought on clothing, long pants could be a good idea year-round for added protection from pesky insects like ticks. Also, do not forget to pack a raincoat!
What To Bring For A Hike In Arkansas
Now that we have covered the clothing and shoes that you should wear for your hike in The Natural State, let us dive into a few essentials that you should take with you on your hike. You want to make sure that you carry a backpack that fits you comfortably to be able to easily store and transport each of the essentials that will be listed here.
Here is what you should bring for a hike in Arkansas:
Water and Snacks
We probably should not have to mention this, but out of everything that we have discussed so far and will still mention, water is by far the most important thing to bring with you on a hike. Ensuring that you stay hydrated is an essential part of any hike, whether short and easy or long and strenuous.
Bringing a few snacks along is a great way to keep your energy levels up during your hike. Things like trail mix and energy bars are a great option to give you a boost in energy yet are light enough to store in your backpack easily.
Sunscreen is another obvious essential. However, if we are all honest, sunscreen is oftentimes the item that we regularly forget to pack. Please do yourself a favor and apply sunscreen before leaving for your hike and take it with you to continue using as necessary. SPF 30 as a minimum should more than suffice.
Particularly during the warmer months in Arkansas, insects like ticks, mosquitoes, and flies can be an absolute nuisance. Bringing some bug spray is a great way to ensure that you won’t be annoyed or bitten by any bugs and ultimately continue to enjoy your hike.
A hiking pole might not necessarily be essential; however, you will find that they really do come in handy, especially on hikes with steep hills. Hiking poles are a great way to keep balance, and they provide that extra bit of support when climbing up hills and rocks. Even for seasoned hikers, hiking poles make an incredible asset.
We covered this in part in the “what to wear” section but think of bringing extra clothes as a way to be prepared for the “worst-case scenario” type of situation. Bring a raincoat even if you are not expecting rain. Bring a warm layer in case the temperature begins to drop. Perhaps even an extra pair of socks in case yours happen to get wet.
As previously mentioned, when it comes to hiking, rather over-prepare than under prepare.
First Aid Kit
Finally, a first aid kit is a great idea to bring on a hike in Arkansas, especially if you are embarking on a more strenuous hike. Getting a few scrapes or cuts is a perfectly normal part of hiking. Having some antibacterial cream, a few band-aids, and even a few bandages in your backpack is an excellent idea, even if it is just for some peace of mind.
All in all, The Natural State, Arkansas, is the place to be if you are looking for an incredible hiking adventure. The quality and upkeep of the trails, along with the phenomenal scenery, undoubtedly make Arkansas one of the best hiking locations in The United States for outdoor adventure. Do not let a hiking opportunity in Arkansas pass you by!