My original post about hiking Lost Valley Trail in the Buffalo National River area continues to be our most popular post about hikes in Arkansas.
On our first trip to Lost Valley, we went in the middle of summer. A copperhead greeted us on the trail. On our return trip this fall, we spotted a tarantula!
Tarantulas in arkansas
“Texas brown tarantulas, the only species found in the state, live in dry, upland areas like the Arkansas River Valley and the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains” according to Kristen Bartlow, watchable wildlife coordinator with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (article from Arkansas Democrat Gazette)
But don’t let spiders or snakes keep you away.
There is a lot to love about this hike including caves, bluffs, and waterfalls.
The trail is 2.4 miles round trip with countless rocks and trees to explore.
On the day of our hike the water was low, so the rocks were less slippery (and the waterfalls were less spectacular).
Eden Falls Cave was closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
But overall, this hike remains one of the best hikes we’ve gone on in Arkansas!
elk in arkansas
Another highlight of this autumn trip was spotting elk near Ponca, right down the road from the Lost Valley trail head.
“Fall is especially a great time to elk watch as the bulls go into mating season form, bugling and battling for herd domination right before your eyes!” according to buffaloriver.com.
To top off our adventure, we ordered a round of cinnamon rolls to-go from the popular Ozark Cafe in nearby Jasper, Arkansas. This was a delicious decision.
In 2019, we were lucky to enjoy the outdoors as a family both in our new home town of Fayetteville, Arkansas as well as our favorite mountain getaway in Estes Park, Colorado. Writing about these adventures on rockymountaintot brings me a lot of joy. My goal is to provide as much helpful information as I can in each post and hopefully inspire people to check out some of the places I love.
The number of views on rockymountaintot this year quadrupled! Thank you to everyone who took the time to check us out. I’ve compiled the list of our Top 10 Posts of 2019:
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