Move aside snakes and chiggers — winter is here and it’s time to play!
As the air outside gets a bit nippy, you will want to lace up your hiking boots, slip on your trail running shoes, or grab your mountain bike out on one of Arkansas State Parks’ many trails. After all, winter weather is just natural air conditioning.
But how does one pick their trail when there are 52 state parks and more than 400miles of paths? The Arkansas State Parks Trail Finder, that’s how!
From the forested hills of Village Creek State Park to the peaceful shores of Lake Dardanelle State Park, it is easy to find the right footpath for everyone in your family. You can search by level of difficulty (First time? We suggest easy.), trail type (Love mountain biking? Boy, do we have opportunities for that!) and by region. You can also make your choice based on accessibility by clicking “Barrier Free (ADA).” That will populate with paved routes that are just waitin’ to be explored.
A Few of the Best Winter Hikes, Runs, and Rides
Boston Mountain Trail (12.4 miles) — Rated moderate/strenuous, this singletrack is a challenge to mountain bikers everywhere and might make your breath come out in little clouds. It winds through thickly wooded areas covered in fallen leaves before looping back to the starting point.
Rim Trail (3.5 miles) — Circling the top of Mount Nebo you can see well over 100 miles of the Arkansas River Valley during winter. It’s sure to wow you speechless and make you want to snap a hundred photos, but might we suggest just taking it all in for a moment?
Historic Van Winkle Trail (1/2 mile) — Check out the foundation stones of the remaining homestead of Peter Van Winkle (a lumber baron from the 1800s). The faint winter light casts interesting shadows on the grounds if you go during golden hour.
Enders Fault Mountain Bike Trail (9.2 miles) — The two loops of this pathway are rated moderate but if you’re looking for an easier start, begin with the north loop with its idyllic stream crossings and sloping hills. The south loop starts with a steep climb but then opens back up before heading down the mountain.
Big Bluff Trail (1.75 miles) — Walk over what remains of a railroad tram built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back in the day before heading to a jaw-dropping overlook of the White River, Bull Shoals Dam and the Ozark hill country.
Knapp Trail (0.8 miles) — Take a stroll down this boardwalk to learn about the 18 Plum Bayou Mounds, a prehistoric Indigenous peoples’ site. Fun fact: They were inhabited more than 1,000 years ago.
Gorley King (7 miles) — For an excellent view of the Civilian Conservation Corps-built dam and Lake Devil, follow Holt Ridge. You’ll spot limestone and cedar glades and cross over not one, not two, but three natural bridges.
Monument Trails – If you want to experience the best mountain biking Arkansas has to offer, choose a Monument Trail at Pinnacle Mountain, Mount Nebo, Devil’s Den, or Hobbs State Park.
Before you head out, remember to:
- Check weather conditions and the wind chill.
- Drink plenty of fluids — hydration is just as important in the winter!
- Wear a hat or headband.
- Dress in layers — the first layer should be a moisture-wicking material.