Having seen little of Arkansas but enough to want to see more, we set off for “The Natural State” looking forward to some of the great outdoors.
Arriving at a secluded homestead in a valley of the Ozark Mountains several hours later, we immediately felt we’d got what we came for.
The drive from the Dallas metroplex had got progressively more scenic as we crossed the Red River into Oklahoma, traveled over Lake Eufaula and the Arkansas River further north, then crossed into Arkansas before finding our way along the backroads.
Now, my family and I sat back on the verandah, with the creek a stone’s throw away and the insects chatting incessantly to each other, looking down the valley at the hazy hills and mountains.
Admittedly it was off-season but, for us, the great outdoors in this part of America was great for being so unspoiled and off the beaten track. It’s the kind of place where you get a wave from the driver when you see a passing car, and have to look out for wild turkeys strutting their stuff in the road.
There’s a huge choice of hikes and getting to the trailheads along dirt tracks of variable quality, and gradient, can be a mini adventure in itself. (Being used to the concrete highways of Dallas, one or two approaches raised some eyebrows in our vehicle but really, they were fine.) We particularly enjoyed the trail to Hawksbill Crag, a rock that juts out over plummeting depths, with sweeping views over the Ozark National Forest. Deemed one of the best in the area, it’s a moderate hike of about three miles there and back, mostly under the canopy of the forest.
Another good one was to Kings River Falls, a safer bet if you have young children. The quiet, leafy path leads you beside the river to the waterfall where you can relax, cool off or soak up the sun. This one is a two-mile amble along the valley bottom, and flat all the way.
Back at our accommodation, we felt it only right to round the days off with a campfire and marshmallows as the sun dropped, and talk about what we might do the next day. While there was plenty we didn’t get to, we had a great time unwinding in the Ozarks and seeing, as a family, a little more of what Mother Nature has to offer.