hiking trails in Arkansas state parks

 Mount Magazine State Park

Arkansas Hiking Trails

Choose from 300 miles of Arkansas hiking trails and explore the diverse topography of Arkansas. Trails course their way through mountain terrain and alongside rivers and streams. They wind through bottomlands teeming with wildlife and travel through historic sites that showcase Arkansas history. You can also order a free copy of the Arkansas Adventure Guide produced by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, which gives details about Arkansas's many hiking trails including those within the Arkansas state parks system . Call 1-800-NATURAL or visit Arkansas.com to order your copy.

COSSATOT - The River Trail follows the length of the Cossatot River canyon for 14 miles from Hwy. 246 to U.S. 278. Climbing to several bluff overlooks, the hiking trail is rugged and strenuous in places and not for the beginning hiker. Along the way, the trail connects five river access points making it possible for hiking enthusiasts to hike the trail in sections. Primitive campsites are available.

Harris Creek Trail is a 3-mile loop nature trail. A short section is steep, but the remainder is an easy hike. It leads to a glade overlook of Baker Creek and then follows a creek until it merges with Harris Creek. Then the trail cuts across to a peninsula that overlooks the Cossatot River. A self-guiding trail brochure is available at the park visitor center. View Cossatot Calendar of Events

DEVIL'S DEN - The rugged Ozark Plateau, better known as the Ozark Mountains, cut and carved by streams and rock falls, is revealed at its best in the hollows of Devil's Den State Park. Here trails weave through, around and over one of the largest crevice areas in North America. Explore Devil's Den Cave, hike to Yellow Rock Overlook, identify wildflowers along the Woody Plant Trail, stop and get your feet wet while you rest along the Lee Creek Trail, or go on a backpacking adventure along the 15-mile Butterfield Hiking Trail. The park features 20 miles of hiking trails that explore historic home sites, natural bridges, caves and waterfalls of the Ozarks. Pitch your tent or stay in a park cabin. Stop by the park visitor center and pick up your guide to the trails of Devil's Den and a map of the surrounding Ozark National Forest. Then explore the scenic, rugged renowned Ozark Mountains. View Devil's Den Calendar of Events

HOBBS - Hobbs State Park - Conservation Area is blessed with beautiful terrain and a diverse eco-system. Four hiking trails span over 31 miles of wooded hills and ridges. 24 of those miles make up the Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail, welcoming hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The 1 ½ mile Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail, the 8.2 mile Pigeon Roost Trail, and the ½ mile, ADA, Historic Van Winkle Hollow Trail are for foot traffic only. The Hobbs trails offer a wide variety of native plants, mammals and birds, interesting rock formations, sink holes, disappearing streams, season wildflowers, natural springs, and local history. View Hobbs Calendar of Events

LAKE CATHERINE - Here on the edge of 1,940-acre Lake Catherine, the park's cabins and campsites provide a base for hiking enthusiasts who want to explore the park hiking trails and the Ouachita Mountain beauty here. Shorter trails pass along streams, the lakeshore and the park's small waterfall on Falls Branch. The longer Dam Mountain Trail leads hikers through the oak, hickory and pine forest, up into the mountains and onto a ridge overlooking Lake Catherine. The rocks at your feet are novaculite, prized by Native Americans who a thousand years ago quarried this stone from these hills and traded it from the Gulf to the Great Lakes. The word novaculite is derived from the Latin word novacula, meaning razor stone. This novaculite was chipped into fine tools, points and weapons. Today the novaculite from here in Ouachita Mountains is the top-quality, whetstone-grade material still prized as some of the finest whetstones in the world. View Lake Catherine Calendar of Events

PETIT JEAN - Cedar Creek Trail - The trailhead is located on Ark. 154 by the old Pioneer Cabin, a small log residence constructed in 1845 by John Walker. The hiking trail immediately heads downhill to Cedar Creek. The native rock steps were placed here in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You will notice that there wasn't a set standard on the size of the step used. These steps were built of rock found near the trail so some of the steps are short and some are high. As you continue downhill, you will be following along a beautiful stream that has several small cascades to the point where it joins Cedar Creek. As you near the creek, you will see a chunk of carpet rock, which is a natural rock that has eroded in such a way that it resembles patterned carpet. There are triangles and squares found in this design, a rare discovery in nature. You will then cross Cedar Creek. After you cross the creek, the trail continues along the creek heading upstream. You will see some remarkable views of Cedar Creek and the surrounding hillside. When you reach the giant rock leaning on the cliff, you will then cross back over the creek to where the trail continues between the highway and the creek. This stretch of trail is one of the best stretches to hike if you are looking for wildflowers. You will soon be nearly back to your vehicle and can enjoy a nice overlook before the trail makes a sharp left turn back to the Pioneer Cabin. View Petit Jean Calendar of Events

Boy Scout Trail - This is Petit Jean's longest trail. It interconnects nearly all of the other hiking trails in the park. Before you begin this hike, please register at the park visitor center. The trail starts at the Civilian Conservation Corps bridge named the Davies Bridge that spans Cedar Creek and follows scenic Cedar Creek Trail on the north side of Cedar Creek.

The Boy Scout Trail passes some of the most scenic locations in the park including the canyon rim and the riparian zone of Cedar Creek. Plan well. This trail is a great, but strenuous, day hike. No camping is allowed on the trail. If you want to hike only a short section of the trail, it crosses many of the trailheads in the park.

Canyon Trail - The Canyon Trail, another of the park's beautiful trails, is one of the least traveled trails in the park. It is a one-mile stretch of trail that begins after you cross the bridge on the Cedar Falls Trail. Instead of turning right and going to the waterfall, turn left and follow the bright yellow trail blazers to the Blue Hole. From the intersection with the Cedar Falls Trail, the Canyon Trail winds down the canyon and alongside Cedar Creek. You will find many interesting plants along the trail including sassafras, which was the original flavoring for root beer. You will also find tall oak and hickory trees. As you continue along the trail, stop and look at the creek. On a clear day you can see the surrounding cliffs reflecting in the water below. After one mile, you will reach the Blue Hole. Blue Hole is the old swimming hole that was used by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. At the Blue Hole, you are at the end of the trail. You can return to Mather Lodge the way you came, or hike a section of the Boy Scout Trail to complete a loop. The Boy Scout Trail intersects with the Canyon Trail at the Blue Hole.

Seven Hollows Trail - A 4 ½-mile hiking trail on the west end of Petit Jean State Park, this trail offers something for everyone. Beginning about one-half mile west of Mather Lodge, the trail begins through short dense vegetation, a result of the forest fire during the summer of 2000. As you hike, you will notice that you quickly drop out of the burned area into the hollows. Throughout the first hollow, you will be in the area where Dr. Hardison, a local physician who lived on the south brow of the mountain, first came up with the idea in the 1920s to preserve the area as a park. It isn't hard to see why he thought it was beautiful. Many brightly colored wildflowers can often be seen here.

The trail winds through four hollows, across small streams and beside tall sandstone bluffs. The Natural Bridge, located about 1 ¼-mile from the trailhead, is a naturally formed arch. The Grotto, a box canyon at the halfway point of the trail, offers a small waterfall. This is a great place to find out what has visited the area before you, as tracks from animals are easily spotted in the muddy area along the stream. As you hike, don't forget to look around at your surroundings. Even on the busy hiking days of spring, there are places on the trail where it will seem as though you are the first to see it, and you will understand why it was so important to Dr. Hardison to save this area.

Cedar Falls Trail - Beginning at Mather Lodge, you'll take this 2-mile round trip to the foot of the park's most notable natural feature, spectacular 95-foot Cedar Falls. Cedar Falls is only one the many interesting sites you will see along the way. As you descend into the Cedar Creek Canyon, you'll come upon a spring that creates several miniature waterfalls as it cascades alongside the trail. At the top of the canyon, the vegetation is different than that below. As you reach the canyon floor, the trail will cross Cedar Creek and then continue for about another ½-mile along the creek. As you walk alongside Cedar Creek, you might see some of the wet weather springs. As you approach the Cedar Falls, listen for the water as it cascades over the rock. A turn or two later and the falls will come into view. Sitting on rocks enjoying the waterfall is a great place for a picnic. Allow plenty of time for this hike. Two hours will give you time to enjoy the falls and take your time walking back up the hill to the lodge.

PINNACLE MOUNTAIN - At this environmental education park just west of Little Rock, Arkansas's largest metropolitan area, you can enjoy guided hikes and expeditions with park staff like the park's popular "Winter Wandering," "To Hill & Back," river walks, wetland expeditions and exploration hikes. The park staff also leads backpacking classes and a 10-mile overnight hike on the Ouachita Trail. View Pinnacle Mountain Calendar of Events

Off-trail self-guided expeditions can also be experienced at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The park encompasses over 2,100 acres of diverse habitats with seven peaks and extensive wetlands to explore. See where vultures roost, beaver dams abound and wintering American bald eagles soar. Wear boots and dress for this rugged terrain. Bring food and water. Hikes vary from one to five-mile routes. Check with a park interpreter for recommended routes and safety recommendations.

Rocky Valley/East Quarry day hike - From the trail's beginning point near the Pinnacle Mountain State Park visitor center that overlooks the Arkansas River, one can enjoy a challenging day hike along a shady upland slope down to the edge of the Big Maumelle River. Spectacular views of the Arkansas and Big Maumelle Rivers await the hardy hiker at the hilltop overlook a half-mile farther up the East Quarry Trail. Rocky Valley is a partial loop woodland trail and is a 1 ½-mile round trip. If taken, the East Quarry Trail adds an additional mile ending at a hilltop overlook next to an interesting abandoned quarry.

Pinnacle Mountain Climb- Experience the thrill of reaching the 1,011-foot summit of Pinnacle Mountain by following one of two strenuous trails. Each hiking trail leads through boulder fields and forests to spectacular views. Views from the summit include the Arkansas River, Lake Maumelle and more of the Ouachita Mountains. For the ultimate fitness adventure, try the 4 ½-mile loop formed by the West Summit Trail, the East Summit Trail and the relatively flat Base Trail. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Allow one and one-half hours for your trip. Close supervision of children is required, especially as you near the summit.

QUEEN WILHELMINA - High atop Arkansas's second highest mountain is beautiful Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge [closed until late 2014 while undergoing a major renovation] featuring a 38-room and campsites with hookups. This windswept mountaintop park offers some of the most dramatic and panoramic views in the state. Trails lead to historic springs and cemeteries, through dwarf forests filled with wildflowers to dramatic Lover's Leap Overlook with its sweeping vista of the Ouachita Mountains and surrounding Ouachita National Forest. For a longer adventure, the 222-mile Ouachita Trail extends east from here to Pinnacle Mountain State Park near at Little Rock, and west to Talimena State Park near Talihina, Oklahoma. View Queen Wilhelmina Calendar of Events

VILLAGE CREEK - Arkansas hiking trails in 7,000-acre Village Creek State Park take you deep into the unusual forest community on Crowley's Ridge in northeast Arkansas. The Big Ben Trail is one of the park's shortest trails showcasing the astounding diversity of this climax beech/maple forest. You'll see native beech trees, magnolia, tulip trees, pawpaw and much more. Longer trails like the Old Military Road Trail, which includes one of the most dramatic remaining portions of the Trail of Tears, can last most of the day. In the 1830s the Chickasaw moved 5,000 of their finest horses through this area along the Trail of Tears en route to Indian Territory. Pack a snack and some water and set off through these rolling hills for a hiking adventure through a forest like no other in Arkansas. View Village Creek Calendar of Events

WHITE OAK LAKE - Camp on the shore of White Oak Lake and you'll be in the tall timber and gentle rolling hills of the West Gulf Coastal Plain region. You will also be on the edge of an unusual eco-community filled with desert-like plants, the sand-hill plant community. Beech Ridge Trail, a 2-mile loop, starts in the tent camp area and will take you through a large beech forest. Much of the route borders the lake. Looping off this trail is the Coastal Plain Trail. This 3-mile loop courses through an old-growth shortleaf and loblolly pine forest that has an understory of diverse, unusual and rare plant species. The old growth timber provides habitat for a variety of wildlife including the great-horned owl, pileated woodpecker and more. The total route of five miles can be an all-day adventure of exploration and discovery of beautiful views and surprising species diversity. View White Oak Lake Calendar of Events