Alum Cove trail is a one mile loop that features a 130 foot natural bridge, a cave, shelter bluffs, stream, and a seasonal waterfall.
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.
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.
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
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.
The trail starts out by following along Mitchell Creek. We enjoyed spotting a variety of wildflowers and butterflies.
Soon we crossed over a small metal bridge. The trail begins to follow along side the Kings 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
This autumn we enjoyed the pony rides, farm animals, sunflowers, pumpkins, giant hay stacks (plus more!) at Farmland Adventures in Springdale, Arkansas.
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.
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.
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!
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!
We crossed a little creek bed which led to a wide and well-maintained trail, with occasional benches available for a quick rest.
The trail becomes more narrow and steep as you head towards Natural Bridge and Eden Falls.
We passed through a little water to get to Natural Bridge. A fellow hiker warned us that the rocks were slippery.
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.
The trail featured several other unique rock formations, towering bluffs, and caves.
We continued on towards Eden Falls. The gorgeous 50+ foot waterfall was the highlight of the hike.
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!
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.
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