waterfalls lost valley trail near ponca arkansas

They call Arkansas the Natural State, and for good reason. It’s a lush and green, a feast for the eyes, and a nature lover’s dream. Roads curve and twist through green mountains and hills. You won’t be going anywhere very fast, but really isn’t that part of the charm? Consider planning one of your next getaways in Arkansas where you can relax and enjoy the slower pace. 

But wait! a slower pace yes but Arkansas certainly isn’t boring! There is a lot to do in this area, which makes it hands down one of the best vacation spots in Arkansas! The possibilities are endless.

We had 4 days to spend in the area. This itinerary is jam packed with lots of nature and a little bit of time spent in the quaint and eclectic town of Eureka Springs (one of the best getaways in Arkansas!) What’s in store???? hiking, kayaking, shopping, natural springs, a little cave exploration, golf, and dinner in a wine grotto and more!

So whether you’re looking for getaways for couples or ideas for a family vacation in Arkansas this itinerary has a little bit for everyone. You can’t go wrong with the Eureka Springs area one of the best places to stay in Arkansas for your next vacation.

Let’s explore one of the best vacation spots in Arkansas!

Day 1: War Eagle Cavern and hiking Hobbs State Park

War Eagle Cavern Tour

War Eagle Cavern tour is a natural cavern that offers guided tours of the cave, and the opportunity to explore their scenic forest trails and waterfalls. Caves are a great place too cool off on a hot day! 

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war eagle cave cavern arkansas family vacation in arkansas

War Eagle Cavern, Rogers Arkansas

Hobbs State Park Trails

About 3 miles down the road you’ll find hiking trails at Hobbs State Park. Check here for a complete list of hiking trails in Hobbs State Park.

Historic Van Winkle Trail

Historic Van Winkle Trail an easy .5 mile, ADA accessible loop

historic van winkle trail hobbs state park arkansas
Historic Van Winkle Trail

Sinking Stream Trail

Sinking Stream Trail an easy .5-mile loop. Note: This trail is closed during deer permit hunting season in November, December, January. See the website for further details.

sinking stream trail bridge hobbs state park arkansas

Sinking Stream Trail

Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail

Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail an easy to moderate 1.5-mile loop, it’s a bit hilly, you’ll get a good incline workout.

Summary of Hobbs State Park Trails

If you are an avid hiker, you may find the trails at Hobbs State Park a bit underwhelming, but if short easy hikes are your thing, this is your spot….there’s water access if you want to splash around a bit in the crystal clear water that is so common in Arkansas!!!!

hobbs state park hiking trail arkansas

If you’re hungry and don’t mind driving a little further Sam’s Olde Tyme Hamburgers in Rogers (about 11 miles from the Shaddox Hollow trailhead) serves some really good food. They serve breakfast, burgers, dogs with delicious toppings, sandwiches, BBQ and more!

massage

Of special note for: Arkansas Getaways for couples, those with tired achy muscles, or to take a relaxing vacation to the next level. 

If you know me then you know that I believe that massage and vacations go together like peanut butter and jelly (which is how I usually feel after a good massage.) After our long day of hiking we headed to Eureka Springs for a couple’s massage, a great way to relax after hiking. There are lots of places in town to get a massage. Ask Google for recommendations! 

Day 2: Eureka Springs

As I mentioned before Eureka Springs is one of the best vacation spots in Arkansas because there is just so much to do here! I chose to check out the cute and eclectic Eureka springs downtown area while my husband hit the golf course.

The husband left first thing for the Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course. I caught the handy Eureka Springs Trolley and headed downtown for some shopping. I purchased a trolley ticket online. Easy! You can find all of the pertinent visitor information, and can purchase a ticket at Eureka Trolley. They also provide a handy trolley stops map. What’s in the downtown area of Eureka Springs? You’ll find a couple of streets filled with eateries and fun eclectic artsy type shops.

Just have a weekend free and looking for an Arkansas weekend getaway? Eureka Springs is a great place to spend a weekend! You’ll find plenty to occupy you in the area and all of the food that I’ve had there has been great! They have a .org and a .com website where you can explore all of the fun things to do on your next getaways in Arkansas.

Visiting the Springs in Eureka Springs.

There are upwards of 60 natural springs in Eureka Springs‘ city limits, many tucked away in small caves, nooks, and crannies. Some of the more popular springs, especially those in Eureka Springs downtown area, are noted in blue on the online trolley map. You can also pick up a map at various locations around town.

The Springs in Eureka Springs:

springs in eureka springs arkansas
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best vacation spots in arkansas gardens and flowers around the springs in the town of eureka springs arkansas
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The Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave

For dinner we had a reservation at The Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave in Eureka springs downtown area. (it’s popular, make sure you have a reservation, and ASK FOR A TABLE IN THE CAVE!) This place has a great atmosphere, the food was excellent, the bone marrow and peppered goat delightful! (goat cheese rolled in peppercorn, topped with house candied jalapenos, dried cranberries, nuts and served with ciabatta crisps… seriously, YUM)

the grotto wood fired grill and wine cave exterior eureka springs downtown areaarkansas
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the grotto wood fired grill and wine cave interior eureka springs arkansas arkansas weekend getaway

Day 3: animal refuge and Lost Valley Hike

We were supposed to Kayak the Buffalo River on this day. but water levels were low, and it wasn’t looking promising for our kayak trip. I noticed that there was a good chance of heavy rains overnight. I was able to switch our reservation with Buffalo River Outfitters to the following day in hopes that a good rain would make the river more floatable. So, we simply switched day 3 and day 4 activities.

Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge

We headed south to our next stop but not before making an impromptu stop at the Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge.

turpentine creek animal refuse arkansas

I hope you will make time to visit too. Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge is a nonprofit sanctuary for survivors of the exotic animal trade. They have rescued several of Joe Exotic’s animals. Check out their website for a list of their accreditations. Sorry, no animal photos, my husband was in charge of photos and his phone fell victim to rapids #19 of 20 on the river.

Lost Valley Hike

Not only is this the most popular hiking trail in the Buffalo River National Park, it is also one of the most popular in the entire state of Arkansas and for good reason! I have added it to my “all-time favorite trails” list! It’s a 2.1 mile out and back trail, located near Ponca Arkansas. Take care because it can be very slippery around the waterfalls.

lost valley hiking trail and steps near ponca arkansas

This trail gets its own post. Here’s a link to one of the best and most popular hiking trails in Arkansas: Lost Valley Trail in Arkansas, Waterfalls and a Walk Through a Lush Forest.

waterfalls lost valley trail near ponca arkansas

Lost Valley Trail near Ponca Arkansas

Hammerschmidt Falls Trail

Just 8 miles away from the Lost Valley Trail is Hammerschmidt Falls Trail (.7 miles out and back). Unfortunately, we never made it there because we were not able to find the trail head/parking area. Later, I read on alltrails.com that the parking spot is right there where they sell firewood, as you first turn off the highway onto the gravel, (tiny spot.) The trail is across the highway from the parking area. Oh well, there’s always next time!

Day 4: Kayaking the Buffalo River

If you like to spend time in a canoe or kayak, the Buffalo River, with it’s crystal-clear waters and towering bluffs is a must do!

It did rain buckets the night before our kayaking trip, which made the water level high enough to float (woohoo!) In addition to turning the beautiful clear water murk (you can’t have it all!) it also bumped the water level up to “expert.” We own kayaks, but living in Kansas, we don’t deal much with whitewater. I was a bit nervous, but most of the trip went really well. It wasn’t until the very last bend that my husband dumped his kayak. No harm, no foul, just another learning experience.

We used Buffalo River Outfitters, for kayak rentals and transportation, and kayaked the most scenic part of the river from Ponca to Kyles Landing.

Read all about our kayaking trip on the Buffalo River:

Kayaking the Buffalo River in Arkansas

kayaking the buffalo river in arkansas

BIG BIG BONUS…..Hemmed-in Hollow waterfall, “the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians.”, can be accessed from a trail off of the Buffalo River! I’ve got instructions for getting there in my travel guide to accessing Hemmed-in-Hollow waterfall.

hemmed-in-hollow waterfall buffalo river arkansas

Hemmed-in Hollow waterfall

Well that was a great fun filled 4 days in Arkansas and we can’t wait to go back! If your looking one of the best getaways in Arkansas use this itinerary because this is one of the best places to stay in Arkansas! You won’t be disappointed! Short on time and searching for an Arkansas weekend getaway?

Eureka Springs is a fine place to spend the weekend or you may be interested in the Ponca area with it’s popular Lost Valley Trail or spending a little time on the stunning Buffalo River. This itinerary is great for your “Arkansas getaways for couples” trip OR your next family vacation in Arkansas! 

Looking for more fun getaways in Arkansas? 

don’t forget to check out the Lost Valley Trail

Lost Valley Trail in Arkansas, waterfalls and a walk through a lush forest!

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