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: 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