We visited the Arkansas Ozarks last year in May. This was part of a 10-day road trip from Minnesota. We absolutely loved the whole trip but for my husband and I, the days we spent in the Ozark Mountains were our favorites. We had a few hikes we had researched before the trip and were not sure which ones would be best for us. My husband and I were traveling with our two young kids (age 2 & 4), so the hikes needed to be semi family friendly. The hikes we choose were not exactly family friendly, but we did end up being able to accomplish both these hikes with the children, but there were times when it was not easy! We were proud, tired parents by the end! Below I will tell you all about the experiences we had on these trails as well as some other helpful information about the area and our adventure.
- 2 Adults, 2 Kids (ages 2 & 4)
- May 2018
- Camped nearby in the National Forest Campground
1. Glory Hole Falls
Trail Length: 1.8 Miles – Out & Back
Trail Rating: Moderate
Location: The trailhead is off Highway 16, about 5.7 miles east of Fallsville. The trailhead is about .5 miles east of a red barn on the north side of the road with a large white “E” on its side. The trail is on the right (south) side of the road. This is a well-maintained and popular trail, much of it follows along old jeep roads. However, there is no official trailhead and no official parking area. You should notice a dirt patch on the side of the road which is used as an unmaintained parking area.
This was a waterfall from my bucket list so I was very excited about this hike. We had a little trouble finding the trail head, but the above directions worked quite well, just make sure you are paying close attention as it is easy to drive right by! Once you park there is a small sign indicating you are in the right place (pictured below). The hike is all downhill going in, it starts through a forest and eventually opens to the rocky area around the waterfall. Once you see the waterfall from the top you can scrabble down to get into the cave underneath. This was pretty difficult with our kids, but it was doable. At first look we thought “no way”, but I was determined to get to the bottom. We definitely had to take it very slowly and carefully, as many of the rocks were slippery. The view from below was amazing! Totally worth the struggle! The hike out was also much more difficult than the way in, being that is was completely uphill and the kids were tired and wanted to be carried a lot! Ha-ha! All in all we loved this hike and would definitely do it again!
2. Lost Valley Trail
Trail Length: 2.2 Miles Round Trip
Trail Rating: Moderate
Location: From Ponca, go south on Hwy 43 about 1.5 miles to the paved
turnoff on the right, which is marked with a sign. Meander back about 1/2 a mile to the trailhead parking area.
This was an unexpected and beautiful hike! We had been planning another hike but were feeling tired and were looking for something shorter. We happened to come across this hike in a brochure thought it sounded perfect for us. This hike was not only breathtaking the whole time, but it was also a lot of fun! There was a lot of scrabbling over rocks and under fallen trees, as well as walking up cool natural rock stairways. There is also a beautiful waterfall near the end of the trail, and you can also hike up to where the waterfall begins. You can even climb in and climb around the cave it comes out of! We played more than we hiked on this trail! We loved this trail with our kids, but it would also be a lot of fun with no children! There was a lot of fun exploring to do!
Both these hikes were awesome. We were also happy with our campground. We stayed in the National Forest Campground and we were literally the only campers. It was a rustic campground with only vault toilets, but it was perfect for our family for one night in our tiny camper. The privacy and birds singing in the morning were delightful! This campground is in a dry county so there is no alcohol allowed at the campsite. This was a surprise to us, but since we were only staying one night and were hardly at our site it wasn’t a problem at all. However, something to think about with any travel in Arkansas is that there are quite a few dry counties. So, plan if you want alcohol, or you might end up having to drive a way to get it.
I hope this post helps you when planning your vacation to the Ozarks! We loved it and I highly recommend it! For more stories from our Arkansas travels check out my post on Petit Jean State Park – It was another one of our favorite stops on this trip!
Much Love & Happy Travels,