Hiking Arkansas: Lost Valley Trail, Buffalo National River

Last weekend we drove to Lost Valley in Buffalo National River which is located a couple miles from Ponca, Arkansas. We selected this hike for our family because it is relatively short in length at 2.4 miles, and features several caves and waterfalls.

Lost Valley, Buffalo National River near Ponca Arkansas. 2.4 miles, features caves and waterfalls, 500 ft elevation gain
*hike statistics found on national park service (nps) website

Our 4-year-old walked most of the trail with a lot of hand holding from my husband while I carried my 2-year-old in an Ergo baby on my back. In the summer heat, this was a great workout!

family hiking arkansas

The thing that scares me most about hiking in Missouri and Arkansas is the possibility of running into a snake. We barely got out of our car and I spotted a copperhead taking its time to cross the trail. Copperheads are venomous snakes, so we patiently gave the snake plenty of room until he crossed.

It doesn’t seem likely, but if you happen to get bitten by a snake, I think the closest hospital would be North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison, Arkansas which is 30-40 minutes away.

But don’t worry… the hike gets better!

copperhead snake arkansas. venomous snakes in arkansas. poisonous snakes arkansas

We crossed a little creek bed which led to a wide and well-maintained trail, with occasional benches available for a quick rest.

creek bed lost valley trail

The trail becomes more narrow and steep as you head towards Natural Bridge and Eden Falls.

well maintained trail lost valley trail

Natural bridge

We passed through a little water to get to Natural Bridge. A fellow hiker warned us that the rocks were slippery.

natural bridge lost valley trail buffalo national river

There was a waterfall running through the rocks. Several older kids climbed through the falls, but we decided to avoid slipping and walked back around to the trail.

lost valley trail buffalo national river, waterfall, natural bridge

The trail featured several other unique rock formations, towering bluffs, and caves.

lost valley trail buffalo national river
lost valley trail buffalo national river, bluffs
lost valley trail buffalo national river, caves. cob cave

We continued on towards Eden Falls. The gorgeous 50+ foot waterfall was the highlight of the hike.

Eden Falls

lost valley trail buffalo national river. eden falls waterfall, eden falls cave
lost valley trail buffalo national river. eden falls
lost valley trail buffalo national river. eden falls closer

Eden Falls cave

We debated whether or not we should continue the hike up to see Eden Falls Cave. Our 4-year-old listened well, held on to her Dad’s hand, and thought it was a fun adventure climbing up the steep and narrow pathway to the top. While we were glad to see the last cave, I wouldn’t take our girls on this section again until they are older. It was a bit too precarious for my comfort.

However, if you don’t have young ones with you, and don’t mind tight spaces, there is another waterfall inside the cave that we hear is worth checking out!

lost valley trail buffalo national river trail up to eden falls cave
lost valley trail buffalo national river trail up to eden falls cave
lost valley trail buffalo national river. eden falls cave

This hike was beautiful and felt like an adventure. We are looking forward to returning to the Buffalo National River to explore more of the outdoor activities this area has to offer.

lost valley trail buffalo national river. family hiking

Good to Know Before you go:

  • No dogs/pets allowed on the trail
  • No bikes on trail
  • We had poor cell phone service in this area, but trail was well marked and easy to find
  • There is a restroom facility and small picnic pavilion near trail head
  • This was a popular trail, but there was plenty of parking available on our visit
  • Remember water, bug spray, and sunscreen

Riding the Razorback Trail: Biking and Breweries in Fayetteville, Arkansas

This summer I’ve rekindled a long lost love. Before marriage, home ownership, and kids, Eric and I spent many weekends racking up miles on the trails near our apartments. Our goal was to ride a two-day 150 mile bike ride. ( MS-150) It felt great when we accomplished our goal, but soon life got busy and our bikes started collecting dust.

2010 MS 150…almost 10 years ago!

Thanks to great babysitter(s), this summer we decided to tune up our bikes and hit the trails in our new home town of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville has an amazing trail system including a portion of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway. If we wanted to, we could ride 36 paved miles (mostly without crossing a road) all the way to Lake Bella Vista, Arkansas. For now, we’ve been sticking closer to home. Here are 5 trails we’ve enjoyed so far this summer:

We purchased a Saris bike rack from local bike shop Phat Tire for our anniversary present this year.

*We tracked mileage using my husband’s gps watch, so distances given are estimates.

Kessler Mountain to Columbus house

We started at Kessler Mountain parking lot (near the playground) and jumped on the Cato Springs trail which connects Kessler Mountain to the Razorback Greenway system. The first few miles are peaceful and fast moving. Soon we crossed through Walker Park and headed into the lively downtown Fayetteville area. We continued past downtown to North Street where we took a right (East) to get to Columbus House Brewery. We sat outside and enjoyed the local beer before heading back towards Kessler Mountain.

Distance: 11.69 miles*

I highlighted the Cato Springs Trail that connects to the Razorback Trail in yellow.

Kessler Mountain to Fossil cove

We enjoyed Kessler Mountain area so much that we returned for another bike ride. We challenged ourselves to ride a little further on to Poplar Street where we took a right (East) and went to Fossil Cove Brewery. We sat outside and ordered pizza from adjacent Wicked Wood Fire Pizza.

Distance: Estimate 13.5 miles, we accidently missed our turn and ended up riding a total of 14.88 miles*

veterans memorial park – lake fayetteville loop

For a shorter ride, we took a quick evening loop around Lake Fayetteville starting at Veterans Memorial Park. Lake Fayetteville can sometimes be a pretty crowded area, but even if you have to slow down to accommodate fellow walkers and bikers, it’s worth it. I enjoy the views of waterfalls, bridges, wildflowers, wildlife, and of course the lake.

Distance: 5.27 miles*

Lake Fayetteville Loop with wildflowers

Gordon long park – lake fayetteville

We started at Gordon Long Park and rode towards Lake Fayetteville. Gordon Long trailhead has a playground, several parking spaces and a restroom facility.

My favorite part of this ride was cruising beside several creeks including Scull Creek, Mud Creek, and Clear Creek. My least favorite part was traveling through the long tunnel under Fulbright Expressway which felt a little eerie. We jumped off the trail on Lake Fayetteville Road to grab a bite to eat at the food trucks. I ate street tacos which were tasty and Eric ordered Thai food. Refueled, we finished our loop around Lake Fayetteville and headed back towards Gordon Long. This was a really fun date! To celebrate, we treated ourselves by driving across town to Crisis Brewing Company.

Distance: 12.94 miles*

Veterans memorial park – Luther george park in springdale, arkansas

We started at Veterans Memorial Park and headed towards Lake Fayetteville. We split off the loop to continue on the Razorback Greenway trail north towards Springdale. I was excited to learn about a new section, but this was my least favorite because their was less nature and more road traffic once we left the lake area. It was pretty hot, so we also noticed the lack of shade. We made it to Luther George Park, which looked like a spot my kids would love.

We headed back and continued the loop around Lake Fayetteville. This time it was less crowded and we were able to catch a breeze to cool off. On this ride we were short on time, but if we wanted to sip a local beer we could have easily stopped by Apple Blossom Brewing Company which is close to Veterans Memorial Park.

Distance: 10.5 miles*

I’m thrilled to be exploring our home town via the trail system. I know there is a lot more to enjoy. Cheers to that!

The Best Way to Spend a Spring Day? Hiking Pigeon Roost Trail in Arkansas’ Hobbs State Park

Hobbs State Park is the largest state park in Arkansas. This weekend we took advantage of the sunny weather to explore the park and venture out on a new (to us) trail.

The Pigeon Roost trail is 8.4 miles long. It is broken into two loops, the Dry Creek Loop and the Huckleberry Loop. We walked a portion of the Dry Creek Loop from the trail head to the Beaver Lake Overlook which was about 1.5 miles in length each way.

Pigeon Roost trail signage
I highlighted the portion of the trail we hiked in yellow.
family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

Our 4-year-old hiked on her own (and rode on her Dad’s shoulders) while her younger sister mostly rode in an ergo carrier on my back.

spring hiking. family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

Spring is a colorful time to hike in Northwest Arkansas because white dogwood and pink and purple redbud trees bloom throughout the forest.

family friendly hiking. family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

The trail was well marked, but narrow and a bit slippery in some places with loose gravel. We had to be extra cautious as we hiked near steep hills.

We read that ticks can be bad on this trail, luckily we didn’t find any unwelcome visitors.

View of Beaver Lake. family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

After hiking through the forest and over several small bridges crossing a creek, we arrived to a spot where we could see Beaver Lake. I was amazed by the turquoise water. The color reminded me of the green waters we saw at Point Lobos Park in California which I wrote about here.

View of Beaver Lake family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

An overlook with a pair of benches can be found a little further down the trail. This is a great spot to rest and take in the view.

family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

We were thrilled to find a family-friendly trail that is close to our new home in Northwest Arkansas.

family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

Hobbs State Park has 36 miles of trails to explore – we are excited to head back soon so we can hike more of them.

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista, Arkansas

Bella Vista makes a welcoming front porch to Northwest Arkansas. I remember holding my breath as we crossed the border from our home state of Missouri and letting out a sigh of relief as we drove into Bella Vista. ‘See girls we can live in Arkansas – look at all the pretty golf courses (even though I don’t golf), and all the active people out biking and walking around the lake.’

We moved to Arkansas this winter and now that the weather is warming, I’m eager to get out and explore more of ‘the natural state’. Last week I took my 2-year-old on a hike around the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista.

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail signage

Tanyard Creek Blacktop Path

The first path we came to was a paved 1/3 mile loop which was the perfect place for my toddler to walk on her own because it was flat. When we got a little tired we rested on a bench.

Tanyard creek nature trail

Past the paved section the nature trail begins. We continued to keep right as the trail took us up, around, and over the creek.

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista. northwest arkansas hiking

We crossed over several bridges.

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista. northwest arkansas hiking. hiking with kids

And walked along a limestone cave.

hiking by cave in northwest arkansas. bella vista arkansas. tanyard creek

In places you could hear road and construction noise. I didn’t mind because I think it’s nice to find hidden gems within city limits.

tanyard creek bella vista

Dotted along the trail, volunteers have placed signs that explain what kind of trees and rocks we were looking at. I appreciate signage so I can sound smart when I’m hiking with my kids.

northwest arkansas creek hike

There wasn’t a sign telling me what kind of animal this cute little guy is, but I’m guessing he is a ground hog and he was announcing, ‘It’s spring!’

tanyard creek nature

We were on alert for less cuddly creatures. Signs warn that snakes might be enjoying the sunshine on rocks near the creek. I’m terrified of snakes and I’m relieved we didn’t see any.

spring hikes in northwest arkansas. tanyard creek

Even though this trail is only 2 miles long, it felt like an adventure because of the bridges, cave and creek.

tanyard creek nature in bella vista arkansas

We hiked on a beautiful weekday morning. I was pleased to see several fellow hikers enjoying the trail, but it didn’t feel over crowded.

tanyard creek nature in bella vista arkansas. northwest arkansas hiking destination

We passed a small pond covered in water lilies. Beyond the pond was a large hill which leads to the Lake Windsor Dam.

tanyard creek nature trail pond near windsor dam in bella vista

After the pond, the trail heads up at a steeper rate toward the waterfall lookout. The waterfall spilled into the creek which a fellow hiker mentioned was pretty dry this time of year. I’m guessing the waterfall and creek are even more impressive later in the season.

waterfall hike tanyard creek nature trail bella vista arkansas

I carried my daughter in a kid carrier on my back, but after the waterfall she was eager to get down and walk on her own. We found a flat area and she happily sat along the creek and threw rocks in the water to make ripples. She could do this for hours.

tanyard creek

With all the ripple making, we decided to skip a fairly big section of the trail. I’m eager to go back to explore the rest of the trail soon.

More Adventures in Northwest Arkansas

If you are interested in hiking in Arkansas, you may enjoy reading about our hike at Devil’s Den State Park and on Kessler Mountain.