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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hobbs State Park is the biggest state park in Arkansas. It is located in Rogers, Arkansas and is known for hiking, biking, and its miles of shore line along Beaver Lake. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
The visitors center is filled with educational exhibits about animals and plants you may find in the area. The cave exhibit was my daughters’ favorite.
They also enjoyed the Kids Corner which is stacked with games and books about nature. I appreciated the clean restrooms and friendly staff who answered all of my questions about near by hiking trails.
mother nature story time
The center hosts a variety of family-friendly activities including a Mother Nature story time held each second Saturday of the month at 10:30 am. Mark your calendar: Upcoming 2019 story times include: ‘Bats – Not Really Scary’ on October 12; ‘It’s Turkey Time’ on November 9; and ‘Who Goes There? Footprints and Animal Signs’ on December 14.
Outside of the visitors center there is a small pond and a viewing deck. This is a good place to watch wildlife.
We spotted a snake from the deck. I convinced myself that it was a Western Pigmy Rattlesnake (because I’m terrified of snakes). However, it was most likely a nonvenomous water snake innocently enjoying the late summer sun.
Right outside the visitor center there are several picnic tables that rest under the shade of towering pine trees.
Ozark plateau trail
Beyond the picnic area, there is a half mile paved trail called the Ozark Plateau Trail. The trail is easy, well shaded, and includes several benches to rest on if little feet get tired.
We enjoyed seeing the variety of trees, mushrooms, and plants along the trail.
hobbs state park fall festival
Mark your calendar: Hobbs State Park is hosting a Fall Festival on October 6, 2019 from 1-4 pm. This free event is located at the Historic Van Winkle Hollow and includes activities such as blacksmith demonstrations, old-timey games, and music.
war eagle mill
After our fun morning at Hobbs State Park Visitor Center and hiking the Plateau Trail, we worked up an appetite. We stopped at the War Eagle Mill which is a short five-minute drive away.
The War Eagle Mill dates back to 1832. The mill is open daily for guests to purchase flours, mixes, jams, gifts, and other hand crafted items in their gift shop. Tours are available to learn more about the history of the active mill.
bean palace cafe
We enjoyed lunch on the 3rd floor in the Bean Palace Cafe. Lunch is served daily from 10:30 am – 4:00 pm. There is a kids menu with prices ranging from $5-$6 per meal which include a souvenir cup. We also tasted their famous beans.
We were lucky to get a table that looked out over the War Eagle Creek and the one-lane bridge that crosses over it.
Mark your calendar: The War Eagle Mill will be hosting a Fall Craft Fair next month on Thursday, October 17 through Sunday, October 20, 2019.
Since moving to Northwest Arkansas last winter, I’m eager to explore all that our area has to offer. I appreciate that Hobbs State Park offers beautiful scenery and educational experiences so close to our new home. Our time at the War Eagle Mill felt charming, authentic, and historically relevant. I’m looking forward to our next trip!
If you have suggestions for fall day trips near Northwest Arkansas, please comment below.