The 7 Hiking Trails in Arkansas with Waterfalls
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Arkansan is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls with beautiful icons for spring-time swimming to hidden gems for shady summer picnics and relaxing with the family. The state is also known for its fascinating geology including caverns, sinkholes, towers, and grottos near many of its waterfalls. No matter what your skill level, a gorgeous waterfall isn’t too far away. It also has some of the most beautiful national parks in the country.

Here are some of the most amazing waterfall hikes in Arkansas to explore, experience, and enjoy.

1. Pam’s Grotto Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 37 feet
  • Distance: 0.8 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 206 feet
  • Location: Ozark National Forest

Pam’s Grotto Falls

Pam’s Grotto is a 0.8-mile scenic waterfall hike in the Haw Creek Falls Recreation Area. The tail is primarily used for hiking and rock-climbing and it is accessible year-round. This is a fun hike and you’ll experience some small but challenging rock scramble to get to the actual grotto area. The trail is pretty steep for the first quarter-mile, then it levels off as you walk alongside the base of the rock bluff. The trail has some beautiful scenery so you won’t feel like you left completely empty-handed.

Pam’s Grotto is a well-marked trail and when you get near the falls, you’ll be able to hug the wall on left and climb through a slightly dark area to the falls. If you prefer, you can go straight across the rocky area towards the falls. Both ways, you’ll end up right to the falls.

Going to the trailhead is a little bit difficult because the parking area is located about a half-mile east of the Haw Creek Falls Campground. You can park your car on the east side of the road. When you’re ready to hit the trail you may now cross the road from where you parked. You will see a small creek that flows underneath the highway. Now start following the marked trail uphill for about a quarter of a mile. Once you run into the bluffs, turn left and keep the bluffs on your right for another quarter of a mile. Soon, you’ll hear the water flowing at the grotto. Now, take a short downhill path to see the waterfall up close. Don’t forget to visit after a decent amount of rain to see Pam’s Grotto at its best.

2. Glory Hole Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 31 feet
  • Distance: 1.8 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 387 feet
  • Location: Ozark National Forest

Glory Hole Falls

Glory Hole is one of the unique waterfalls in the Ozark. Dismal Creek drilled a hole and the water falls from the hole in an overhanging cave bluff. When water is falling, the hike to it adds to the spectacular appeal of this short trail. Most of the year, it is not more than a trickle but after some decent amount of rain, this is something spectacular. The waterfall is even more scenic when it becomes frozen in winters.

The Glory Hole Waterfall is located between Fallsville and Edwards Junction, south of Boxley Valley. The trail is in Newton County in the Big Piney District of the Ozark National Forest. There is no official trailhead and no official parking area. However, it is a well-maintained trail. Most of the trail is following along old jeep roads. The trailhead is located around half a mile east of a red barn on the north side of the road whereas the trail is on the south side of the road. You can easily get to the trailhead by locating the Cassville Baptist Church on your GPS system.

Remember to plan a trip after a good rain or in the winter, because there’s a chance you’ll see frozen parts of the waterfall. There will be a short 387 feet elevation gain on your way back to the trailhead. However, the hike to the Glory Hole Falls is all downhill.

3. Cedar Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 95 feet
  • Distance: 1.9 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 367 feet
  • Location: Petit Jean State Park

Cedar Falls - Arkansas

Cedar Falls is an impressive 95 feet tall waterfall. When it is flowing well, this waterfall is an amazing sight. Petit Jean is first Arkansas’s state park and after a visit to Cedar Falls, it is easy to see why. This is a quite scenic trail, especially during the wet times. When you walk along Cedar Creek, it is beautiful when flowing well. You’ll also enjoy some really cool rock formations all along the trail.

The trail starts behind the Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park on Petit Jean Mountain, which is an attraction in itself. Cedar Falls Trail is one of the most visited trails in the state and it is well-blazed and easy to follow. The first part of the trails is moderately steep with an uneven footing going through the switchbacks on your way down the mountain. Once it levels off, it is much easier. You can cross the river at a footbridge. Travel along the river for a while before going to the falls.

Once there, stay at the falls for a while, enjoy the view and relaxing sound of the water. Swimming is not allowed. If you want to get closer to the water, there is a trail to the right of the falls which crosses some large boulders. There is also a ledge behind the falls where you can climb up to. This part is strenuous. The key is to be in shape. Come prepared and be sure to bring proper footwear and water filtration system.

4. Triple Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 48 feet
  • Distance: 0.3 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 9 feet
  • Location: Buffalo National River Wilderness

Triple Falls - Arkansas

Triple Falls (aka Twin Falls) is one of the most beautiful and photographed waterfalls in Arkansas. It is officially called Twin Falls but it has three distinct falls. It is located at Camp Orr Boy Scout Camp south of Harrison AR. In addition, most waterfalls in this area are seasonal but Triple Falls flows year-round.

Getting to the falls is easy. This is a short, flat, 0.3-mile hike back to the falls. From the parking area, enter the woods opposite where you parked. You’ll see a sign pointing to Twin Falls. Walk under a little metal arch that starts the trail. Sit and enjoy one of the most breathtaking places in the Buffalo River area. The three falls tumble 48 feet over the ledge into a nice little pool at the bottom.

This is a must-see waterfall if you are in the area, preferably after a good rain. It features the most natural beauty for the least effort you will ever experience. With just a little more effort, Rock Bridge Creek will give you a fantastic bonus. There’s another waterfall upstream of where the road crossed back over Shop Creek, which feeds Triple Falls.

5. Thunder Canyon Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 71 feet
  • Distance: 3.7 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 328 feet
  • Location: Buffalo National River Wilderness

Thunder Canyon Falls

Thunder Canyon Falls Trail has gained popularity in recent years with good reason. It is an impressive waterfall that flows into a very nice slot canyon that makes it a little unique from most other waterfalls in the Buffalo National River Wilderness. The waterfall makes “thundering” sound as the water comes over the edge into a slot canyon. That’s why it’s called Thunder Canyon Falls. With a name and story like that, it’s got to be cool. So, plan to spend plenty of time because there’s a lot to see and do in this area.

The trailhead starts at the Cecil Cove Loop in the former community of Erbie in the Buffalo River area. There are some quite easy ways to get to Erbie. The easiest way is Campground Road, which is off Highway 7 about 3.3 miles North of Jasper. However, you’ll have to cross a low water bridge at the Buffalo River. If the water is high, it won’t be wise or sensible. There is an alternative route taking CR-19 from Compton. This is an unmaintained, steep and gravel road. It is not advised unless you have a 4WD vehicle.

Overall, the trail is moderately difficult. Much of the way follows a relatively flat and maintained trail. However, there are multiple water crossings involved that make this hike somewhat challenging. The last half mile is a slick terrain and it will challenge even the most sure-footed hikers.

6. Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 210 feet
  • Distance: 5.5 mile
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
  • Location: Buffalo National River Wilderness

Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls

At 210 feet tall, Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls is the tallest waterfall between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. This is a seasonal waterfall, which is nice when the water is high in the late winter and spring. However, it is only a 20-minute hike from the Buffalo National River but the hike isn’t very easy. It is popular among hikers and they’re eager to see this towering beauty of the falls.

While the hike to the Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls is in good condition, at 1,400 feet of elevation gain, the hike is not for the faint of heart. But a fantastic waterfall and secluded canyon await those who make the challenging 5.5-mile hike.

There are multiple ways to get to the waterfall. The one comes in from the Center Point Trailhead and another comes in from Compton (more direct route). You can also get there by floating the Buffalo River from Ponca, and then hiking back to the falls.

The area is really fantastic. Take some photos and grab a snack here, as the hike back is a bit more challenging. With a little more effort, you can scramble up the right side of the falls to a ledge that wraps around the back of the waterfall. If you prefer, continue around to the north side of the falls and head west along the ridge. That’s where the rock is crumbly, so don’t free climb it. A lot of people have had their holds break off and taken nasty falls.

7. Kings River Falls Trail

  • Waterfall Height: 10 feet
  • Distance: 1.8 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 72 feet
  • Location: Ozark National Forest

Kings River Falls

Kings River Falls is a relatively easy but scenic hike along the banks of the Kings River that ends at the falls. The hike is even more scenic from mid-autumn to mid-spring. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow. There are traces of an old rock stone fence along the way. You can swim in the river below the falls but be careful, there is no lifeguard available.

The ponds are nice and fun for all ages. The water is cool even in the summers. But beware of water moccasin snakes. Otherwise, the swimming area is safe but do not go exploring under the waterfalls! It is a good hike if you plan on swimming at the end.

While the hike itself is great and suitable for all skill levels, but there is a bit more to see here. There is a creek just upstream from the Falls that comes in from the trail-side of the river. If you prefer, follow this little creek upstream a bit. There are also a series of waterfalls that come down off the top of the hill.

Overall, Kings River Falls is a great trail that has a little bit of everything. Rock formations, spots to explore by the river, and of course the falls. You’ll love it how it follows the river the whole way. Get a good pair of footwear and be prepared for a rocky walk with some wet areas.

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