Jill Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Arkansas offers great winter weather for outdoor activities. Mild temperatures make hiking a great choice for warming up in cooler weather while also enjoying nature. The leafless trees of the season provide vantage points for sightseeing that are covered up when leaves deck the branches.
Here are four good beginner trails for families that are nearby rentable cozy cabins for a weekend of winter fun:
Withrow Springs State Park in Huntsville has two great family-friendly trails. Great for beginners, the Dogwood Loop is only .6 of a mile total. It starts a little steep but eventually levels out before heading downhill. Or if you’re up for 2.1 miles round trip, take the Forest Trail. It’s nice and wide and fairly flat.
The Lost Valley Trail is 2.1 miles round trip, but it is a very easy hike. I’ve done this one a lot with my family and friends. The trail is located near the magical Buffalo National River. You’ll see a sign for Lost Valley off of Ark. 43 between Boxley and Ponca. The trail follows a creek up to its headwaters to a waterfall treasure at the end, which is Eden Falls. You’ll also encounter caves, so don’t forget your flashlight.
Atop Mount Magazine in the Arkansas River Valley, Signal Hill Trail is a 1.5-mile round trip hike to the high point of Arkansas at 2,753 feet above mean sea level. It’s a fairly easy trail, although you will be going steadily up hill. There are benches and a sign at the top so you can take a selfie and let everyone know you made it to the top. Don’t miss a visit to the visitor center or lodge and restaurant of Mount Magazine State Park while you’re here.
Another trail I have always enjoyed is the Summit Park Trail, a one-mile trail to Fern Lake on top of Mount Nebo in the Arkansas River Valley near Russellville. Pick up a self-guided trail brochure at Mount Nebo State Park Visitor Center to help you with interpretive points along the way.