Looking for the best trails in Arkansas? We have you covered! In our guide to the best trails in the state, we’ll cover trails of every difficulty. Whether you are a casual hiker looking easier trail for a mere change in scenery, or you are a seasoned outdoorsman looking for the most difficult trails in the state, this guide can help you find the perfect weekend getaway.
Arkansas is home to hundreds of hiking trails, so singling out the best ones certainly wasn’t simple. We zeroed in on some hiking hotspots that have had nature lovers raving for years. And some of these spots offer so much more than hiking, scenic views, swimming, fishing, bird-watching, camping and so much more!
Recognizing that not everyone will be able to handle a hike that is hours upon hours of feet-killing exercise, we’ve provided hiking trails that are of varying lengths and steepness, so you can find a trail that works best for you.
Nevertheless, these trails are easily the best in the state: top-rated with fantastic views that make every second of your hike pure joy. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best hiking trails in Arkansas…
15. Cedar Falls Trail
First up is the Cedar Falls Trail at Petit Jean State Park. This 1.9-mile trail, located near Morrilton, Arkansas, is moderately challenging and will take you around an hour to complete. The area is an exceedingly popular hiking spot, so even if you go alone, you’ll be likely to encounter other outdoor enthusiasts along the way.
You can even take your dog but note that they must be on a leash. The trail offers gorgeous views of the river and waterfall and the lush surrounding forest. There’s an elevation gain of about 367 feet but much of that you’ll experience early on during your hike, so the rest of the way will be smooth sailing.
14. Glory Hole Waterfall
Glory Hole Waterfall Trail is an equally challenging hike with a 410-foot gain located at Ozark National Forest. Like Cedar Falls, the length of the trail is 1.9 miles and takes about an hour to complete. This one, however, is located in Deer, Arkansas. The popular spot regularly has other adventurers along the way, and sometimes with their dogs.
The payoff, of course, is the waterfall finale. Many hikers have noted that the trail can get a bit muddy, so be sure to bring the right boots for it. You may also plan to park further away from the trail since parking at the site can be someone limited.
13. Falls Branch
For a quick hike, Falls Branch Trail in Hot Springs takes about 40 minutes to complete. Excellent for beginners looking for a small challenge, this hike has an elevation gain of 209 feet and goes in a loop that is just 1.7 miles. Dogs are welcome, but they must be on a leash.
The trail begins at the base of a campground and winds through the pine forest. You’ll also cross Little Canyon Creek at least several times on your journey. As you make your way past a seasonal waterfall on Falls Creek, you’ll circle back to the trailhead where you started. Easy peasy.
12. Pinnacle Mountain West Summit
Short but difficult, the Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail near Little Rock is a 1.5-mile hike that most hikers find to be challenging. The dog-friendly trail offers scenic views of the native wildflowers and lush green forest. You’ll spot plenty of wildlife along the way and gorgeous rock formations.
Located at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, the trail begins at the park’s picnic grounds and goes all the way to the tippy top of Pinnacle Mountain. From the summit, you’ll be able to take in the majestic Lake Maumelle and get a spectacular view of the Arkansas River Valley in all its glory.
11. Whitaker Point
Whitaker Point Trail near Pettigrew is a moderately challenging hike that passes through the Ozark National Forest. The 2.9-mile trail is kid-friendly and dog friendly too, but make sure you bring enough water and snacks for your babies because this trail may take them a while.
Along the trail, you’ll encounter a fascinating cave, river, waterfall, and wildflowers that will enrich your experience. You’ll likely encounter plenty of wildlife as well. With a gain of 413 feet, this trail is comparable to the Glory Hole trail, only even longer than that one.
10. Lost Valley Trail
Lost Valley Trail near Ponca, Arkansas, is located along the Buffalo National River. The 2.3-mile hike can be moderately challenging for some and takes a little under an hour. Many people run the trail, and it’s also a popular spot for bird watchers. Please note, however, that dogs are not allowed on this trail.
The trail is open year-round and offers exquisite views no matter what time of the year you are going. The trail leads past several natural bridges, caves, and rock formations. It should be noted that the trail does require some walking through water, so be sure to wear your waterproof footwear. In the end, you’ll be face-to-face with Eden Falls and Cobb Cave.
9. Devil’s Den
Venture through the Devil’s Den if you so dare. The Devil’s Den Trail near West Fork is located at Devil’s Den State Park. It’s a 1.6-mile loop with moderate difficulty that takes just 40 minutes, making it another excellent spot for a brisk hike. At just a 209-foot elevation, this hike is certainly kid-friendly, and dogs are welcome too.
Like Lost Valley, Devil’s Den is open year-round. Any time of year, you’ll find some of the most fantastic views of the river and connecting Twill Falls waterfalls, as well as the Cold Springs. Explore the Devil’s Den Cave and witness the protected bat population that lives there.
8. King’s Bluff and Pedestal Rocks
If fascinating rock formations are your thing, you’ll appreciate what the Pedestal Rocks Loop Trail has to offer. This 4.6-mile trail at the Ozark National Forest has a 580-ft elevation gain and goes in a loop. Located near Pelsor, Arkansas, the trail offers a moderate challenge but is friendly to both kids and dogs.
This trail will take you about two hours, so be sure to pack a snack and bring plenty of water. While the trail is fairly popular, it’s long enough that it’s easy to find a moment of peace and quiet. For the best experience, it’s recommended that you go anytime from April to September.
7. Yellow Rock
Yellow Rock Trail is a manmade trail built in the ‘30s, a 3.1-mile loop near West Fork that takes about an hour and a half to complete. The trail has an elevation gain of about 551 feet, but if you don’t want to make it on foot, fear not, you can also make the journey on horseback.
The Yellow Rock trail has two trailheads making it easily accessible. The lower trailhead is located at a campground, while the other is located along Highway 70 CCC. If you wish to camp there, tent and RV camping is welcome, and there are also cabins available to rent.
6. Centerpoint to Goat Trail
The Centerpoint to Goat Trail is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. If you are looking for a great camping or backpacking spot, the 5.9-mile trail offers an incredible journey you won’t want to miss, taking you along the Buffalo River. The trail takes you directly to Big Bluff, which overlooks the river.
The trail starts out easy, taking you downhill the whole way. However, with that said, the hike out provides the biggest challenge, as you’ll be walking uphill the whole way. While the trail is only moderately challenging, it’s important to note it’s not for beginners, and you should use extreme caution because it can get a bit rough at points.
5. Hemmed in Hollow
The Hemmed in Hollow Trail is not for the faint of heart. Located off Highway 43 near Compton, the 5.7-mile trail has an elevation gain of 1,414 feet! It can take as long as 3 hours or more to complete. This difficult trail is popular among seasoned hikers and offers breathtaking views at any time of year.
The Hemmed in Hollow trail will take you to one of the tallest waterfalls in middle America and is centered in the Buffalo National River Park. Stay hydrated and pack some food for your journey, and the effort will be well worth it once you witness the majesty of Hollow Falls.
4. Tanyard Loop
Just 2.2 miles and an elevation gain of 164 feet, the Tanyard Loop is ideal for beginners. It can take about 50 minutes to complete, but the relatively easy terrain makes the time a total breeze. It’s a popular spot for runners, hikers, and bird watchers, so you’ll likely encounter others along the way.
The best times to take this trail are from April through November. Dogs are welcome and you can even let them off their leash at some points so they can take care of their business. The trail is technically located on private property but is open to the public, nonetheless.
3. Seven Hollows
The Seven Hollows Trail is located at Petit Jean State Park. It’s a 5-mile loop near Morrilton, Arkansas, with a 603 ft elevation gain. It can take an average of 2 hours to complete. Bird watchers, runners, and hikers all use this trail making it a community experience that nature lovers of every variety can appreciate.
Dogs are welcome on leashes, but you may not want to bring your small children due to the amount of activity in the area. At Seven Hollows, you’ll find plenty of forests, as well as caves, waterfalls, and views of the river. The trail is open throughout the year, and there’s really no bad time to go – provided it’s not raining.
2. Pigeon Roost Trail
No, this isn’t just a habitat for pigeons. This 8.3-mile trail has an elevation gain of 948 feet and goes in a loop that takes about three and a half hours to complete. Backpacking and camping are popular in this area, so don’t feel like you have to go home the same day.
Located near a lake, you may also want to take a dip in the water or take a deep breath and let your dog roam around for a while. But a word of caution: bugs are prevalent in the area, so bring some bug repellant, or you’ll be a nice snack for critters.
1. Eagle Rock Loop
Eagle Rock Loop is no joke. This trail is hard but ultimately worth it if you love hiking and have plenty of experience. You won’t be able to make it in a day as the 26.5-mile trail takes about 12 hours to complete. With that said, pack food and water for your journey and a sturdy backpack.
While the trip can be exhausting for some, the gorgeous views at every corner make it well worth your time. The trail is welcome to dogs on a leash, but be sure to ask if your dog is okay with it because 26 miles is a lot, particularly when you are going up 3,966 feet!
(featured image via State Parks of Arkansas)