Posted on: March 1, 2018 Posted by: James McQuiston Comments: 0

Arkansas doesn’t have the really cold winters like the Dakotas and Minnesota nor does it have the relatively mild winters further south and east.  We’re in the middle so to speak.  Nevertheless, a lot of people think that winter is the time to take their vacation indoors such as at a land based casino.  We say nay nay.  Eschew the land based casinos, play at casinos online, and get outdoors!  There are some great winter hikes in Arkansas.  Here are a few.

Goat Rock Trail

This excellent trail is in Hot Springs National Park.  It gets its name from the overhanging rock from where you get a great view of Indian Mountain.  The trail is not long and as it meanders in the forest, you’ll be challenged just enough.  At the end of this trail, you can merge onto Gulpha Gorge Trail which completes the loop back to your car.

Since the trails are in Hot Springs National Park, you can avail yourselves of the presence of the famed hot springs.  Their s nothing like the tingling sensation you get after you’ve heated your body for a few minutes in hot water and then step outside (fully dressed of course!).

Glory Hole Waterfall Trail

This trail is best done as a winter activity.  If the weather has been cold, the waterfall will be frozen!  The waterfall doesn’t cascade as a waterfall “should”.  Instead, over many millennia, the water has eaten away at the rock and actually courses down a hole!

The hike to the falls is downhill making the return uphill.  It’s two miles in each direction so take along plenty of dried fruit and nuts; you’ll get hungry every few steps in both directions!

The trail is in the Ozark National Forest with many other great hikes and falls in the area.

Cedar Fall Trail

This trail is in Petit Jane State Park near Morrilton.  The falls here may also be frozen and you can explore cold Rock House Cave.

Morrilton is a small town but vacationers can find plenty to do there in a day.  The automobile museum interests people of all ages including the kids.  The kids will also love the Barnyard Friends Petting Zoo and mom and dad (if not teetotalers) will enjoy tasting the wine at Movie House Winery.

Although Cedar Fall Trail is the most picturesque in the area, there are many excellent trails suitable for all seasons and families.

Hawksbill Crag

This is another outcropping of rock.  In this case it really does resemble a hawk’s bill!  It gives the illusion that the canyon you’re standing above is never-ending.  In the winter, you need extra caution before going out on the crag for a better view or a selfie.  Slippery when wet was meant for this place!

The crag is at one point on the Whitaker Point Trail.  It’s near the town of Ponca in the Ozark National Forest which offers great winter fun for all ages.  Ponca is home to many winter activities including the Lost Valley Trail which is a two mile loop.  In the winter, when there’s snow on the ground, the stark beauty is unimaginable.

Discovery Loop

This is a magnificent trail in Bayou Imbeau near Pine Bluff.  It’s a total departure from the falls trails as it’s a lowland loop trail.  The winter scene that unfolds may include fog, snow, or ice.  The trees are stark in the winter giving the bayou an eerie sense after the teeming life of spring and summer.

Lake Ouachita

This is not a single trail; rather it’s about 50 miles of trails. The trails run into each other and offer many views of the lake.  That makes these trails especially appropriate to winter as water sports are less than appropriate in the winter.

The trails are almost all easy enough for families.  If there’s snow on the ground, the crunch underfoot adds a dimension you won’t get in the summer.

Mount Nebo State Park

The park offers great views in all directions.  On a clear day you can see about 100 miles!  The leafless trees add sightlines that are blocked in the summer.  The best views are of the meandering Arkansas River.  The river was followed by the Trail of Tears forced march of Native Americans in the 1830’s.

There is a 3.5 mile loop trail at the rim of Mount Nebo.  It may be a bit long for families but you don’t have to do the entire loop.  The kids will love going in for a spell and then back.  Hot chocolate in the lodge tops off a great day outdoors in the winter.

By the way, the name Mount Nebo is from the Old Testament.  Moses was shown the Promised Land from the Biblical Mount Nebo.

Cane Creek State Park

Geographically, this area is important because the delta region meets the softly rolling terrain more inland.  The hike here is quite challenging.  It traverses fully 15.5 miles!  Intrepid hikers make their way through the many creeks that dot the land.  The terrain varies from steep hillsides to flat land.  This hike is for kids only for a short period; otherwise, you really need to be in good hiking shape to accomplish the full trail winter or summer.

Bottom Line

Winter may be here but that’s no reason to stay indoors on a beautiful, albeit cold, weekend.  Get out your best hiking shoes, warm clothes, and hit the trails.  Take enough water; even though it’s cold you need to drink.  And remember that you’ll be hungry all the time on the trails so pack accordingly.


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