January would not typically be the month during which you start thinking about hiking, camping, and/or spending multiple hours outdoors as the mention of January generally brings with it the mental images of snowy, cold, and dreary weather. However, living in Arkansas, one might often hear the saying "Don't like the weather? Wait a day." and it could not been more accurate.
After a week of freezing temperatures and constant rainfall, this past weekend the NWA area enjoyed 60°s and abundant sunshine. This made for ideal hiking weather as the temperatures that have been hovering around freezing for several weeks, ensured bugs/snakes/other creepy crawlies were not around.
A lot of people in our area enjoy hiking the trails that the gorgeous Ozarks, which Northwest Arkansas is nestled in, have to offer in abundance. While googling "hiking in nwa" provides an ample amount of information- we thought it might be helpful (and fun) to share some of our favorite hiking locations, information regarding the trails and even some helpful tidbits when it comes to preparing for a hike.
Tanyard Creek - Bella Vista, AR
Tanyard Creek, or the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail, is located in Bella Vista AR off Lancanshire Blvd and is approximately 2 miles long. This trail winds around Tanyard creek offering gorgeous views and tranquil scenery. The trail is perfect for all skill levels and you can often find couples, families, school groups, and seniors enjoying the trail. Dogs are also allowed to use the trail, but per city ordinances must be kept on leash.
***Highlights- Waterfall, Dam, Rapids, and Limestone Bluffs.
Mount Kessler - Southwest Fayetteville, AR
Difficulty- Easy to Extremely Difficult
Kessler Mountain is located in southwest Fayetteville and the Kessler Trail System offers 10 separate trails with a combined 10.7 miles of adventure. The trails range in difficulty level from Easy to Very Difficult. Mt Kessler offers steep bluffs and large boulders scattered throughout miles of nature trails that will take you through the forest offering wonderful opportunities for birding, mountain biking, nature watching and relaxing. At the base of Mt. Kessler, there’s the newly developed Kessler Mountain Regional Park which offers restrooms, playground, organized sports fields and so much more planned for the near future.
***Highlights- views, variety of trail skill level, local, park/playground
Devils Den State Park- West Fork, AR
Difficulty- Easy to Difficult
Devil's Den is nestled in Lee Creek Valley and offers 11 trails and and abundance of spectacular scenic views. Devil's Den is probably most well known for the Yellow Rock Trail which is a bluff that is a popular photography spot as well as a popular local engagement proposal location. Devil's den offers hiking trails of all skill levels as well as several caves, waterfalls, a lake, camping, swimming and fishing locations.
***Highlights- Waterfall, Bluffs, Overlook, Caves.
Lake Wedington- Fayetteville AR
Difficulty- Easy to Moderate
Lake Wedington offers the 7 mile North Twin Trail which is perfect for hiking and/or mountain biking, multiple campsites, cabins, and a recreation area. What it's most well known for, in the area, is the Lakeshore Hiking Trail. This trail is 15.4 miles and is not a loop so it's perfect for those looking for an overnight hike. In the summer months, swimming, boating, and fishing are popular at Lake Wedington.
***Highlights- Waterfall, Lake, Camping, Biking trail, Overnight Hike.
Hawksbill Crag (Whitaker Point Trail) - Ponca, AR
Difficulty- Moderate (yet, Very Dangerous)
A very common mental picture in regards to hiking in AR might be that of Hawksbill Crag. This Crag has drawn hikers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over due to the spectacular views it offers. Some might know it from the opening scene in the movie Tuck Everlasting, or travel articles. This beauty of nature offers views that take your breath away, making it an extremely popular spot for marriage proposals and engagement photo sessions. However, this location has also claimed the lives of many. The bluffline to the Crag, as well as the Crag itself, is a dangerous place. It is NOT the place for horseplay and as such it is not a recommended trail for children. Also, the "nose like" tip of the Crag is much more sloped than it appears and it is strongly advised you do NOT risk the adrenaline rush by going that far out.
***Highlights- Waterfall, Bluffs, Overlook.
Preparing for a Hiking Excursion
When preparing for an adventure through various parts of the Ozarks, it's always important to be prepared, carrying a bag with a few essentials is never a bad idea.
- Wear weather appropriate clothing
- Bug spray (ticks/mosquito repellant)
- Flashlight (if you're planning a longer hike, a flashlight is always a good idea- even if you're not planning on being out after dark)
- First Aid Kit
- Snacks/Protein bars
- Printout or map of the trails you're hiking. (yes, we have maps, gps, and internet on our phones- but it's never wise to solely rely on electronics when going off the grid)
If you're going on a longer hike- fire tools, a knife/multitool, and more are heavily encouraged. See a more detailed list: HERE.
If you'd like more information on hiking in this area: CLICK HERE.