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: Kings River Falls

Pavement Ends, Road to Kings River Falls in Arkansas

Finding Kings River Falls

This hike is a little hard to find. When the paved road ends you might think you made a wrong turn, so I wanted to share the directions provided on the Arkansas National Heritage Commission’s website to help you find Kings River Falls. This natural area is worth the dirt road drive.

From the community of Boston on State Highway 16 (between Fallsville and St. Paul), go north on County Road 3175 (dirt) for 2.1 miles; bear right as the road forks onto County Road 3415. Stay on this road for 2.3 miles until you come to a “T” intersection with County Road 3500. Turn left, and go across the creek and park at natural area sign.

Flattening the Curve. Social Distance Hiking.

flattening the curve

We hiked this trail on April 10, 2020. The trail was open, however signage was put up to remind hikers to practice social distancing. We saw a handful of hikers, but everyone was respectful and we felt safe. Some of Arkansas’ most popular hiking trails that were open to the public a couple of weeks ago are closed now because they were getting too crowded. I’d recommend researching potential closures before heading out.

butterfly on Kings River Falls trail

The trail starts out by following along Mitchell Creek. We enjoyed spotting a variety of wildflowers and butterflies.

Wildflowers on Kings River Falls Trail

Soon we crossed over a small metal bridge. The trail begins to follow along side the Kings River.

We stopped several times to admire butterflies and skip rocks on the river.

A cascade flows into the river right before the falls. The distance to Kings River Falls is only a mile. Once we arrived, we found a great spot to enjoy a snack and take in the views. We returned the same way we came, making this a 2 mile round trip adventure.

Our pre-coronavirus plans were to go to Florida over the Easter holiday. A sunny beach vacation would have been nice. However, this family hike was everything my heart needed. We are truly blessed by the natural beauty right here in our home state.

Falling for Fayetteville – The 12 Best Things From Our First Year in Northwest Arkansas

It’s difficult to believe that we have been living in Northwest Arkansas for a year! It feels like the time went by so quickly. In honor of our upcoming one year anniversary, I thought I’d share some of our favorite things about our new home town.

1. Hiking Kessler Mountain

hiking kessler mountain in fayetteville arkansas

We feel lucky to have such a diverse trail system close to our home. Kessler Mountain has 10 trails that are used for hiking and mountain biking. There is also a fun playground for the kids. Read more…

2. Playing in the Creek

best parks with creeks in northwest arkansas. playgrounds in northwest arkansas

Forget playground equipment – my girls can spend hours just throwing rocks into water. Northwest Arkansas has a lot of river banks and creeks. Some of our favorites playgrounds with creeks to explore are Parks Springs Park in Bentonville and Gulley Park in Fayetteville.

3. Savoy Tea Co.

savoy tea co. fayetteville arkansas

Located right off the historic square in downtown Fayetteville, this tea shop is one of the sweetest places I’ve ever seen. They have tea service for little ones (and adults) and they sell a wide variety of tea you can make at home. My girls enjoy the magical unicorn tea that changes color when you add lemon. They also love choosing a cookie from their beautiful display.

4. Fishing

fishing in arkansas

We are lucky to have rivers, lakes, and ponds near our home. The girls both caught their first fish this year and are proud owners of princess fishing poles.

5. Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks

botanical gardens of the ozarks

We enjoy Little Sprouts story times at the Botanical Garden. After the program, we like to explore the twelve themed gardens. Our favorite is the Children’s Garden which has a whimsical tree house and sand play area.

6. Razorback Gymnastics

razorback gymnastics

Woo Pig Sooie! Fayetteville, Arkansas is home to the University of Arkansas. It’s fun to live in a college town because there is always something going on including a variety of athletic events. I took the girls to a Razorback Gymnastics meet and we all loved it. The team was supported by local fans and by the cheerleaders and Razorback mascot.

7. Terra Studios

terra studios arkansas

Terra Studios is an art park and gallery. They are known for their Blue Birds of Happiness. We enjoyed walking around the unique art displays, grabbing a snack at the cafe, and purchasing a crystal sun catcher that lights up our playroom with little rainbows each morning.

8. State Parks

state parks in arkansas

Arkansas is called the Natural State. We are lucky to have several state parks in Northwest Arkansas. Our favorites are Devil’s Den and Hobbs State Park.

9. Biking in Northwest Arkansas

biking in northwest arkansas

Our family has dived into NWA’s biking culture. Our oldest daughter learned how to ride her bike without training wheels this summer which was very exciting. We enjoyed a family bike day at Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas and the girls loved the Bike Playground in Bentonville. My husband and I went on a lot of ‘bike and brewery’ dates on the Razorback Greenway trail which was a blast. I wrote about our favorite sections of the trail and breweries here…

10. Buffalo National River Area

hiking waterfalls national buffalo river

Although we haven’t gone floating down the famous Buffalo National River since we’ve moved here, we have enjoyed hiking around this scenic area. The waterfalls are truly amazing! We visited the remarkable Lost Valley Trail and Triple (Twin) Falls.

11. Farmland Adventures

farmland adventures in springdale arkansas

This autumn we enjoyed the pony rides, farm animals, sunflowers, pumpkins, giant hay stacks (plus more!) at Farmland Adventures in Springdale, Arkansas.

12. NWA Local Restaurants

best family-friendly restaurants in northwest arkansas

Going out to eat as a young family can be a little difficult, but we’ve found several places that our family enjoys including: The Farmer’s Table Cafe, Tiny Tim’s Pizza, Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese, Penguin Ed’s Barbecue, Wright’s BBQ, and the Bean Cafe at War Eagle Mill. We are also fans of Arsagas coffee – the girls ask for banana bread each time we visit the Fayetteville Library location.

This list is a continuation of the list I created after our first month in NWA, “Our 9 Favorite Things Since Moving to Arkansas Last Month” (#9 is what I’m most grateful for). I’m happy to look back and see how much we’ve enjoyed our first year. Let me know if I missed one of your favorites.

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. Less than a hundred yards from the parking lot, I spotted a copperhead taking its time to cross the trail. Copperheads are venomous, so we patiently waited for the snake to cross.

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