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We and a group of our friends loaded up and took a caravan of minivans to spend the day at our treasure of a swimming hole.
As we passed the sign letting us know that we were only a few miles from Fifty-Six, Arkansas, I started letting my kids know that we were almost to our destination. When you have little ones, all the excitement is magnified. So, I started “pumping” them up to see their excitement, which is one of the joys and perks of being a parent.
Just a quick .2 miles past the South Sylamore Creek Bridge, coming from Hwy. 5 north of Mountain View, is our hidden turn-off on the right. It’s just an old dirt path twisting down the side of a hill. You will miss it if you aren’t looking for it.
As we arrived at our destination, and it didn’t look like much, just an old grassy parking lot with a sign upon which is rarely written. So if you’re looking for the guy reading the newspaper at the gate, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Once we unloaded amongst the spotty mud holes, we had about a 1/8-mile trek through the wilderness. So we grabbed our machete, Bowie knife, and a bag of crumbs so we’d be safe to get back to the car without getting lost. Okay, that is a little embellished, but it is a 1/8-mile trek through head-high grass on an old, beaten-down trail before you get to the creek.
As you approach the creek, choose one of the endless spots. Just keep walking until you find “the spot” for the day. It’s almost like a treasure hunt to set up your camp. We always go to the right about 50 yards and then ford the creek at a diagonal toward the bluffs.
We had all six adults and 11 kids (all under seven, I might add) carrying towels, snacks, and toys for our day on the Sylamore. As we walked down to “our spot”, we found that someone had left a little surprise for all to enjoy – a rope swing.
We unloaded, set up our picnic, took in the beautiful surroundings and let the kids loose!
We love this spot because it is good for all ages. If you have little ones, it is shallow and narrow enough that they are able to play, and you can see them at all times. But then, it also has deep spots near the bluffs for adults and bigger kids to swim, romp, and play.
Speaking of playing, at one point- all of the wives looked at each other and wondered if we were there for the dads or the kids! The men were having a blast on the rope swing as they showed our kids how to have good old-fashioned fun outside with nothing but a rope and a creek.
But, of course, I couldn’t let them have all the fun or be called a chicken, so I mustered up the courage to jump from the rope swing as well.
My kids cheered, and now they think I’m awesome. Score. Well, they are 4, 3, and 1, so it doesn’t take a lot to impress them. But they do at least think I’m brave and cool.
Not only were the adults able to enjoy the rope swing, but our children made fun sliding down rocks in the same spot.
It was fun for us moms and dads to show our kids how to have fun in the great Arkansas outdoors.
The little kids were having just as much fun as the adults chasing the fish, and the babies were content to play with the rocks.
One tip I would like to share, though–bring a net! Our kids played for hours with a net, trying to catch the little fish in the creek. And, if you want bonus points as a parent, head over to Wal-Mart and pick up a wind-up water toy for them to play with and catch with the net. They loved this!
Low-stress water fun is always the way to go!
A quick tip to end your family fun day on a happy note is to entice everyone to pack up and head to the Old Fashioned Soda Fountain in Mountain View, just a few miles away from Fifty-Six. You see, I know that my kids will NEVER be ready to pack up and leave our secret swimming hole. But, for some ice cream, they will do it happy-hearted. So to avoid whining when it’s time to leave, we always plan our ice cream trip for the end.
The Old Fashioned Soda Fountain is a great place to make childhood memories. All the ice cream at the soda fountain is homemade. Your kids (and you!) will love picking out your flavors.
Their old-fashioned feel inside, with their timely decor, tile floor, brick architecture, and old ceilings, will make you happy and opt for another scoop of ice cream.
I did — I went for the double scoop of homemade pistachio and almond joy. Yum.
Hanging out at the secret swimming hole on the South Sylamore Creek and ending the day with scoops of ice cream makes for a great family day that is friendly on the budget!
All you need is your gas money to get there, a lunch you brought from home, and a small budget to treat your family to some ice cream.
And voila! You’ve just had a day of fun making memories with your family with swimming, picnicking, and ice cream for well under $56. I already can’t wait for our trip up there next year! (Maybe we will be really adventurous and treat our kids again this year!)
Enjoy! (But don’t tell everyone about our secret spot. This is only for you to know!) Shh…….
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