Photo by Arkansas State Tourism
Hiking In Little Rock: 5 Best Hiking Trails Off The River Road!
If you’re traveling on the Great River Road in Arkansas, taking a detour to the state capital might not seem worth the drive. Located 98 miles off the Mississippi River, driving to Little Rock will require a little more time, but the attractions of The Natural State capital make up for the extra miles.
Among the variety of restaurants, museums, and other attractions, one great reason to visit Little Rock is the abundance of hiking trails and excursions the area has to offer. With the city’s proximity to the Arkansas River and the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, Little Rock is one of the most beautifully diverse areas in Arkansas. A great way to take in all of the natural wonders of the area is to explore first hand on one of the many hiking trails. Here are five must-visit trail systems that will give you the best views of Little Rock’s natural beauty.
Besides the hiking trails, the large park includes a playground, a basketball court, two tennis courts, and a softball and baseball field. There are also more practical amenities such as an open grass field, restrooms, a pavilion, and many picnic tables, which makes it the perfect place to spend a couple of hours getting some fresh air. Many visitors enjoy picnics, the scenery, and relaxing on the field, while kids love to play and explore. Whatever you choose to do, Allsopp Park will make for the perfect backdrop to a fun-filled day in the Little Rock outdoors.
Photo By Arkansas State Tourism
Winding around and to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, the Pinnacle Mountain State Park trail system offers one of the more unforgettable hiking experiences in Little Rock. With over 15 miles of trails ranging in difficulty and terrain, you’ll find your match, whether it is your first time or you are a veteran hiker. If you are in search of a strenuous hike with rewarding scenery, the best trails are the rocky West Summit Trail and the rugged East Summit Trail. Both trails can take you to the top of the mountain, but the quarter-mile rugged East Summit Trail is the more difficult of the two. Once at the top of Pinnacle Mountain, you can see breathtaking views of Lake Maumelle, the Arkansas River Valley, the Ouachita Mountains, and west Little Rock.
If you’re not up for a harder day of hiking, the trail system also offers easier paved trails, as opposed to the more strenuous trails through the wooded and rocky areas. However, keep in mind the best views are located on the trails that require a little more effort. If you want an easy day of hiking, check out the Arkansas Trail, which is a flat, paved loop trail with access to the nearby Arkansas Arboretum, or try the Base Trail, with gently rolling to flat terrain leading to the edge of the Little Maumelle River.
Photo by Arkansas State Parks
Enjoy a variety of natural flora and fauna of the Arkansas West Coastal Plain on this easy-to-walk paved pathway. The pathway guides you through the two mile heavily canopied woodlands and open grassy areas allowing you to see the entire Arboretum and the native species within. There is also a Butterfly Garden, Xeriscape and planted areas, restrooms, a pavilion, and a gazebo at the entrance to the park.
The main feature of this hike is the natural wildlife the Arboretum preserves. Depending on when you visit Little Rock, each season will provide a variety of brightly colored flora, making the Arboretum a year-round attraction. If you visit towards the beginning year, spring and summer will bring beautiful pink, red and white azaleas and the awakening of the Butterfly Garden, while if you visit towards the end of the year the trees will burst with red, orange, and yellow leaves during the fall, until winter brings the evergreens and camellias.
Photo by Matt Kull
The River Mountain Park Trail is a moderately trafficked path tucked away in the middle of Little Rock that can be accessed from the Two River Park or Connor Park. Here you can stroll along the 2.9 mile trail and enjoy the sounds of the creek and wildlife as you take in the views of the water and large rocks. The natural, well-maintained trail is easy to follow, with several spots to wade into the creek and admire the natural beauty of the area.
If you plan on hiking the trail, be sure to wear proper hiking shoes, as the terrain can be a little challenging at times, though easy to navigate. The trail is great for any time of year but is most beautiful during the spring and summer when the creek is full of rushing water and the low valley and large trees keep the path cool and shaded. The River Mountain Trail is perfect for a quiet, serene hike away from the noise and rush of Little Rock, even though the trail is only minutes from Interstate 430.
Photo by Natural Heritage
Leading through the Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area, Rattlesnake Ridge offers rocky trails from intermediate level to expert. This trail divides the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle Rivers, and borders the Ouachita Mountains, with a view of one of the most dramatic rocky summits on the northern boundary of the area. The path will take you past many rare plant and animal species, as the Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area both conserves the native wildlife and offers visitors a rugged, but low-impact hiking experience.
The intermediate trails are moderately difficult, but accessible and sufficient for most hikers. If you are looking for more of a challenge, the Lower Kanob Trail and the Mountain Boomer Trail are the two most difficult trails in the area, with an increase in elevation change and steeper and rockier terrain. Once you’re done with hiking for the day, you can also try your hand at mountain biking the trails or hit the rock climbing wall at the southwest end of the area near the entrance road and the Rattlesnake Ridge House.
I am a student, aspiring writer, and avid reader of books. My favorite things in the world are my German Shepherds and hiking in Colorado.