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Fall is always a popular time to hike some of the hundreds of miles of trails in the Natural State, but with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know which to try.
To make that decision a little easier, we asked two experts from Arkansas State Parks, Director Grady Spann and marketing and revenue manager Joe Jacobs, for their recommendations.
For family hikes
Kingfisher Trail and Arkansas Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Both Spann and Jacobs recommended these trails for anyone planning to hike with children. Both are paved, making them accessible to strollers, and relatively short in length.
Jacobs said the Arkansas Trail is especially worth the hike because it has plants from the state’s major geographical areas including the Ozarks, the River Valley and the Delta.
Bench Trail at Mount Nebo State Park: Spann said this trail is good for a family hike as well. It is flat in most places, according to the park’s website, and offers views of the mountain.
For fall foliage
Hidden Diversity Multi-use Trail at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area: Open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, Jacobs said this long trail is a moderate-to-strenuous option for those seeking fall foliage.
Falls Branch Trail at Lake Catherine State Park: Jacobs said trails along water often have vibrant fall colors, and that includes those at Lake Catherine State Park. He said this is a good option for hikers intending to stay in Central Arkansas.
River Corridor Trail at Cossatot River State Park: Though this linear trail is more than 12 miles in length, Jacobs said hikers can do as much or as little of it as they want to get a taste of fall.
Village Creek State Park: Although in eastern Arkansas, not an area most people typically think of for vibrant foliage, both Spann and Jacobs said Village Creek State Park is beautiful in the fall. The park offers multiple trails.
For novice hikers
Signal Hill Trail at Mount Magazine State Park: Spann said every hiker in Arkansas needs to try this trail, which leads to the highest point in the state, 2,753 feet above Mean Sea Level.
Lover’s Leap Trail at Queen Wilhelmina State Park: At 1.3 miles, Jacobs said this relatively short hike is a good option for less experienced hikers. He said during the fall it will also have vibrant foliage.
Devil’s Den State Park: Spann said Devil’s Den offers trails at a variety of lengths and levels of difficulty, making it a good place for novice hikers to try different options.
Woolly Hollow State Park: This park offers several trails in the easy-to-moderate category, Spann said, providing options for families or new hikers.
For advanced hikers
Ouachita National Trail: The Ouachita National Trail, recommended by both Spann and Jacobs, offers more than 200 miles of hiking ideal for backpackers. Jacobs said one his favorite sections is between Flatside Pinnacle and Lake Sylvia.
Ozark Highlands Trail: Also more than 200 miles in total length, the Ozark Highlands Trail provides numerous options for multi-day backpacking experiences. Spann said he’s heard from avid hikers it’s one of the most beautiful systems in the nation.
White Rock Mountain Recreation Area: Jacobs recommends the 13.4-mile loop at White Rock Mountain Recreation Area. He said the area is beautiful and great for camping.
For incredible views
West and East Summit trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Spann said these trails, in the heart of Central Arkansas, offer must-see views of the Arkansas River Valley and Lake Maumelle.
Rim Trail at Mount Nebo State Park: This trail offers an “iconic” view of the Arkansas River Valley and Lake Dardanelle, Spann said.
Hawksbill Crag on Whitaker Point Trail: Jacobs said this hike is a bit strenuous, but it leads to maybe one of the most photogenic locations in Arkansas, Hawksbill Crag, which juts out over rolling hills and valleys.
Yellow Rock Trail at Devil's Den State Park: This hike is also considered somewhat difficult, Jacobs said, but the 300-foot gain in elevation will give adventurers an unobstructed view of the Lee Creek valley.
Cedar Falls Trail at Petit Jean State Park: This trail is considered a must-see in Arkansas. For those planning to visit Petit Jean, both Spann and Jacobs also recommended the Seven Hollows Trail as a rich, diverse hike.
For more information on hikes in Arkansas, the parks service offers a trail finder at arkansasstateparks.com/trails.