Arkansas Hiking: It’s Too Hot, I Hate Ticks, I’m Scared of Snakes…And Other Excuses I Made This Summer

I’m sad to admit that we’ve been in a hiking slump ever since the temperatures started rising in Arkansas. Summer can mean less comfortable conditions including poison ivy, humidity, pesky bugs, and snakes. The excuses can add up, but I’m happy to report we took advantage of the long holiday weekend to go out on a family hike.

We drove to Hobbs State Park and walked a portion of the Pigeon Roost trail. This was a return trip. We wrote about our first hike here last spring.

We crossed over creeks that flow into Beaver Lake

The Pigeon Roost trail takes you through lush woods until you reach a point that looks over Beaver Lake. We sat on the benches and enjoyed a snack along with the views. You can go much further, but we kept the hike short (approximately 1 mile each way) and returned the way we came. We left with a feeling of accomplishment and renewal.

The lake was clear enough to see fish swimming near the water’s edge

I recently read an article in the New York Times about ‘Nature Deficit Disorder‘ and how the pandemic has had a negative impact on children who don’t have the opportunity to spend much time outdoors. After reading it, I felt grateful for our access to forests, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes here in the Natural State.

Wildflowers blooming among the trees.

I also had a conversation with a neighbor who explained she is taking her three kids on a hiking excursion once a week this summer. I love this idea! I’m starting to research new hikes we can explore before school starts next month.

Tall trees provide shade over the hiking path

It’s good to have reminders that the positives of getting outside far exceed the challenges that come along with the summer heat. If you need ideas, I put together a list of hikes we’ve enjoyed so far in Northwest Arkansas. You can read more about them on our Arkansas Hiking and Biking page.

Tanyard Creek and Waterfall in Bella Vista, Arkansas

I hope everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day weekend! My family took a lovely hike in Bella Vista, Arkansas at the Tanyard Creek Natural Trail. This was a return visit for me and my youngest daughter. We hiked it together last year in early April. I was excited to bring my husband and our oldest daughter along with us. Wow! the waterfall was way more impressive this time around.

Highlights of this hike include a waterfall, creek, shelter bluffs, and a very cool suspension bridge.

Tanyard Creek waterfall
Tanyard Creek waterfall
Windsor Lake Dam in Bella Vista, Arkansas
Tanyard Creek
Shelter bluffs
Suspension bridge

There were signs up reminding hikers to follow the CDC 6-foot-rule and other safety social distancing practices. The trails were pretty busy, but I think people were trying their best to keep a safe distance. We found that the further from the waterfall we hiked, the easier it was to hike on our own. The park restrooms were closed.

If you are curious about the differences between our hike in early April compared to May, check out our previous post.

how is the pandemic changing your Summer travel plans?

Does anyone else feel like we are in a bit of a stand-still? We remain hopeful that we can get out to our cabin in Estes Park, Colorado at the end of May, but it is feeling less and less likely. I wrote about past Memorial Days we’ve spent in Rocky Mountain National Park here.

Some travel experts believe once travel resumes in the United States, people are going to be looking for wilderness adventures in more remote locations that allow for natural social distancing. Others might choose destinations that are closer to home. (Forbes article).

on my mind: Summer Hats

After a recent virtual visit with my dermatologist, summer sun protection is on my mind. I received a sun hat for my birthday which will be getting a lot of use this summer. I also have a Colorado baseball cap that I can wear hiking. I’m on the lookout for more hats that are functional and cute!

Lanzom Women Wide Brim Straw Panama Roll up Hat Fedora Beach Sun Hat UPF50+

For my girls, I want to find sun protective hats like this one from RuffleButts. We recently bought them SPF swimsuits from this brand and they are adorable! (rash guard one piece).

*this post contains affiliate links

Thanks for following along our adventures!

Sky the Puppy and Her First Hike

Sky is our six-month-old Australian Shepard. She’s smart and full of boundless energy. Living with a puppy through the pandemic has been equal parts extra trouble and blessing. Like most high energy pups, she demands a lot of attention.

puppy routine – covid 19

As morning light begins to shine through the window, Sky starts whining until my husband gets out of bed to take her on the first walk of the day. She spends her afternoons chasing birds and butterflies around the backyard, trying to eat my girls’ favorite toys, learning new tricks (sit, stay, shake!), and napping in the warm sunshine. In the evening, I get my turn to take her on her second walk around our neighborhood.

Last weekend we decided to bring her on her first official family hike.

Lake sequoyah

We decided to head to Lake Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Arkansas because of the proximity to our house. This was our first visit to Lake Sequoyah. According to the Fayetteville Parks website, the lake was originally built in the 1950s as a water reservoir. Now the park is used for bird watching, picnics, hiking, fishing, and boating (fish and boat permits required). Swimming is not allowed.

Trail signage for Lake Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Arkansas

trails of lake sequoyah

Shoreline Trail – an easy 2 mile trail around the lake.

Kingfisher Trail – a moderate 3 mile trail.

Rookery Trail – a moderate almost 5 mile trail.

*trail links take you to recent reviews on AllTrails.com.

From our parking spot, we could hear the rush of a waterfall down the hill. We decided to walk towards the water expecting to find the Shoreline Trail on the way.

The cascades were impressive. However, recent rain showers meant the trail was VERY muddy and challenging to follow.

The forest was drinking up the spring rain and seemed to be growing right before our eyes. After attempting our way through the mud, we decided to take a path that was partially gravel back up towards the main road.

We walked happily back to our car on the paved street.

From the road, we could still enjoy the flowering dogwoods and redbud trees that are beginning to bloom in early spring.

dogwood flower near Lake Sequoyah

Although the hike was cut short by the weather, I’d like to think Sky left with muddy paws and a full puppy heart.

Arkansas Hike – War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park

withrow springs state park

‘Oh the weather outside is’…. beautiful! I’m excited that we kicked off our Christmas vacation with family time outdoors. The weather was sunny with temperatures in the 60s when we headed to Withrow Springs State Park. The park is located near Huntsville, Arkansas which is approximately 20 minutes away from our home in Northwest Arkansas. Entrance into the park is free. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

Withrow Springs has three hiking trails (click here for map) along with campsites and a visitor center. Additional attractions include a fishing pond, natural spring, picnic areas, swimming pool, playground, tennis courts, baseball fields, and kayak/canoe rental service. Some of the amenities are seasonal. Visitors can call 479-559-2593 for more information.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

war eagle trail

We decided to hike along the War Eagle Trail so we could enjoy the river and bluff views. We parked at the trail parking lot and began the 1 mile/way hike which follows along War Eagle Creek.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks
War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

Easy, but narrow Trail

This trail is rated as ‘easy’, but there are several places along the trail which become very narrow and steep. We took things slow and held hands with our young daughters (ages 2 and 5) through these sections.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks
War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks
War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

cave

There is a small cave that marks the halfway point on the hike. The cave is closed to “help prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome among Arkansas’ bat population,” according to state park officials. For us, this added to the mystery – the girls enjoyed peaking inside and were curious what could be found in the dark.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks
War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

After the cave, the trail climbs uphill through forest.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

The girls were excited to bring their own backpacks which held snacks and water bottles.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

scenic views

The burst uphill is rewarded with scenic views from a 150 foot bluff overlook. This is the highlight of the hike and worth taking a moment to stop and enjoy the views of the surrounding Ozarks.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks
War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

After we passed the bluff, the trail soon flattened out and led to a turn-around point. We decided to cross the street (ARK Hwy 23) to have a snack at the picnic tables located near the Keith Ham Pavilion and the starting point of the Dogwood Trail.

The girls and I staid behind with our snacks while my husband hiked one mile back along the War Eagle Trail to get our car. We made this decision because we were a little nervous to travel back down some of the steeper sections of the trail with our girls.

War Eagle Trail in Withrow Springs State Park. Arkansas State Parks

first day hike

Looking for a great way to kick off 2020? The staff at Withrow Springs will be hosting a one-mile hike that covers the Dogwood Trail and portions of the War Eagle Trail on the morning of January 1, 2020. More info…