Hiking Arkansas: Alum Cove Trail

Alum Cove trail is a one mile loop that features a 130 foot natural bridge, a cave, shelter bluffs, stream, and a seasonal waterfall.

We took a picture of the trailhead map and signage to help us find our way.

how to get to alum cove

This recreation area is managed by the National Forest Service. From Jasper, Arkansas take highway 7 south for 15 miles, then turn right (west) on Arkansas 16 and go 1 mile. Turn right (northwest) on Forest Service Road 1206 and go 3 miles. (online brochure).

Tip: The scenic road is curvy, so plan ahead for any family members who are prone to car sickness.

open durnig covid-19

There are a lot of trails and recreation areas that are closed in Arkansas to cut down on the spread of COVID-19. As I’m writing today (April 22, 2020), Alum Cove remains open for hiking. Some amenities are probably not open such as restroom facilities. A good place to get updated information is the US Forest Service’s facebook page.

Alum Cove Recreation Area
Alum Cove Recreation Area has shaded picnic areas.
The woods in Arkansas are beautiful this spring.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Walking over the natural bridge. There is a fence, but since there is a big drop off it’s a good place to hold on to little one’s hands.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Views over the side of the bridge.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
A trail leads underneath the bridge.
alum cove natural bridge
Water trickling down the rock walls.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Rocky overhang of Alum Cove Natural Bridge.
Alum Cove Recreational Area. Arkansas National Forest
We passed over a small stream (after we splashed in it a little).
Alum Cove. Arkansas National Forest Service
Tip: Pack fun snacks to encourage kids to walk on their own (especially uphill). Our 5-year-old can hike on her own, while our 3-year-old is still wanting to be carried a lot. There was a bench right after this uphill portion of the trail.
Cave Arkansas. Alum Cove.
Soon, we found a cave.
Cave on loop trail. Alum Cove.
Caves = childhood wonder + imagination explosion
Seasonal waterfall. Alum Cove.
Past the cave, there is a seasonal waterfall.
Cave and shelter bluffs at Alum Cove. Colorado. National Forest Area.
We had fun exploring the caves and shelter bluffs. We had so much fun exploring, that we got turned around and walked down a side trail. Oops!
Alum Cove.
Once we made our way back to the main trail, we noticed that we should have started down this steep rock staircase.
Alum Cove.
and back up to the natural bridge.
Alum Cove.
Blue skies above us.

We hiked this on our 8th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon as a family.

Kid-approved? Yes. Our girls have been lucky to go on a lot of trails in Colorado and Arkansas, and they said this one was one of their all time favorite hikes.

Hiking Arkansas: Yellow Rock Trail in Devil’s Den State Park

This weekend we celebrated Valentine’s Day with candy, flowers, a nice dinner, and an adventurous family hike in Devil’s Den State Park. The park is located in West Fork, Arkansas which is a 30 to 40 minute drive from our new hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

This was our second visit to Devil’s Den. On our first trip, we enjoyed the Devil’s Den Self Guided trail. This time we decided to try the Yellow Rock trail.

Family hike in Devil's Den State Park
The sun was out and the temperature was in the mid-40’s when we began our winter hike.

We recently purchased a helpful guidebook, Arkansas Dayhikes for Kids & Families – 105 Easy Trails in the “Natural State”. The book points out that there are a couple options where you can start on the Yellow Rock trail. You can start in Camp Area A, or at the CCC overlook. Following the advice of author Pam Ernst, we chose to start at the CCC overlook shelter.

CCC Overlook in Devil's Den State Park
CCC Overlook in Devil’s Den State Park

The Civilian Conservation Corps built this impressive rock structure in 1934. From this spot, we enjoyed expansive views of the Lee Creek Valley below.

Great views of Ozark Mountains
Views from shelter area

The Yellow Rock trail is marked with white diamonds.

Yellow Rock Trail

On our trip, there were several spots along the trail that were wet and muddy.

Yellow Rock trail with kids
Yellow Rock Trail. Arkansas State Park
Crossing over a wooden bridge
Hiking in Arkansas
Climbing uphill
Winter hiking in Arkansas
Stepping on stones over water
Hiking with kids in Northwest Arkansas
Taking it nice and slow on a steep downhill section of the hike
Winter hiking in Devil's Den State Park
Icicles glistening in the winter sunshine

The views from the Yellow Rock overlook were impressive.

Best Views. Yellow Rock. Arkansas

Yellow Rock Trail is designated as a National Recreation Trail.

Ozark Mountain views. Yellow Rock. Arkansas. Devil's Den
Views of Lee Creek Valley

The drop offs are very steep from the top of Yellow Rock, so it was important to be extra cautious, but I was happy to find that there was enough space for the girls to safely eat a snack and rest.

Ozark Mountain views. Yellow Rock. Arkansas. Devil's Den
Snack on Yellow Rock trail overlook

Although the overlook was the clear highlight of the hike, the rest of the trail is filled with gorgeous scenery from glimpses into the valley to little waterfalls spilling down rugged bluffs.

Small waterfall and pretty pool
Yellow Rock trail in Devil's Den State Park. Northwest Arkansas hiking
Looking back at Yellow Rock

Further along the trail, we could look back and see people enjoying the views on the Yellow Rock overlook. This was a popular spot. We saw some big groups hiking together, a couple young families like ours, and several people with their dogs.

Yellow Rock overlook
Trail signage points to overlook and trailhead

We took a right, heading back up towards our car instead of following the trail to the main trailhead that the signage points to.

Family hiking Devils Den State Park
Cedar trees

After our climb uphill, we enjoyed a nice flat section of the hike where large cedars towered on both sides of the trail. I would buy a candle that smelled like this.

My husband mapped our hike with his Garmin watch. According to GPS, we hiked a total of 2.3 miles.

Devil's Den State Park

Our girls did great on the hike walking uphills, getting muddy, feeling a little cold, and altogether staying tough. We encouraged them with snacks waiting for them when we reached the overlook and also back at the car.

They also did a good job listening. There were definitely sections that we held on tight to their hands to help them across slippery wet rocks or to ensure they staid far away from steep drop-offs. Our three-year-old needed us to give her rest and so she was carried for big sections. I feel comfortable recommending this hike for young families, but just want to point out that the trail is rated as moderate and it’s not one where kids can run ahead of you on their own.

Family hiking devil's den state park
We made it! Happy little hiker