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Statewide Travel 4

10 Tips for Hiking with Kids in Arkansas


Arkansas is known as the Natural State for many reasons and one of the main ones is the many wonderful hiking trails across the state.  Taking the kids on a hike at an Arkansas State Park is friendly on the budget yet packed with tons of fun and adventure. Check out these 10 tips for having a successful hiking day with kids in Arkansas.

10 Tips for Hiking with Kids in Arkansas

1. Bring Extra Clothes

Yes, this is a very important tip. While hiking, your kids will get dirty! They will slide down the side of mountains getting their backside covered in dirt. If it is warm outside and there happens to be a beautiful waterfall or creek on the hike, then it is inevitable, they will get wet. Not just wet, they will become soaked! So, be prepared and pack extra clothes and let the kids be kids and enjoy a day in nature getting dirty and exploring.

2. Bring Good Snacks

I find that it always makes the day more memorable if I bring special snacks or treats that my family doesn’t typically have on hand at home. It is funny how something as simple as a favorite drink or favorite convenient snack can make the day awesome in the eyes of a child. We all know that great snacks make the picnic part of hiking much more fun!

3. Teach your children to read the signs

There are signs posted while hiking that mark the trails. It is important to teach your kids to read these signs/markers and to know what to look for while hiking. It helps to keep them safe and on the right track. In addition, pull out a paper map and show them how to read the trails on a map. These are life skills that will help them in the future, and are fun to learn on a family hiking day.

4. Correct Shoes

When taking your kids on a hiking day, make sure to have them wear the correct shoes. If they don’t, you are just making more trouble for yourself. Athletic sneakers with a great grip on the bottom or hiking shoes are best. Do not wear flip-flops or sandals while hiking. Everyone will need their grip on their shoes while walking, and you most definitely don’t want to end your day with a blister or turned ankle.

5. Hike the same trail in each season

Living in Arkansas, we are all blessed to call home a place that has four distinct seasons. You can hike the same trail in each season and it is a completely different experience. For example, a spring hike on the Cedar Falls Trail at Petit Jean State Park will give you the opportunity to admire the waterfall in all its glory. But if you take that same hike in the fall, you will be able to admire the beautiful foliage in shades of gold, orange, and deep red. Summer hiking trips are best taken on trails with water. The creeks on the trails at Blanchard Springs State Park make for perfect summer hiking trips. The trails never get old. Make a point to take your children to the same trail but in different seasons.

6. Know the Weather

It is important to know the weather for the day before going hiking. Depending on the forecast, you might need to pack multiple items such as a poncho and an extra layer of clothes. You don’t want to be overdressed either. You might need to be prepared to start the day in layers and end your hiking trip in a bathing suit! After all, we do live in Arkansas.

7. Visit the Visitor’s Center

Make sure to stop by the visitor center at all the Arkansas State Parks with children. A lot of effort has been put into making them educational and enjoyable for all the visitors. Plus, this is where you can get the trail map!

8. Bring a First Aid Kit

While on a hiking trip, make sure you have a first-aid kit with you. Someone always gets a scraped knee or a little cut while hiking (in my family at least). It is amazing how fast a Batman Band-Aid can clear up some tears, and then everyone is back to having fun.

9. Bring Friends

Find some friends who are up for an adventure and go and make memories together. Having kids build friendships by being outdoors and exploring Arkansas is one of the best memories a kid can have.

10. Visit a local shop and find treasures

One of the fun things about exploring Arkansas is finding the local treasures in each town. So, while on your hiking adventure, make sure to find a local shop and see what you can find. It can be a local food specialty shop or a shop featuring handmade goods. One of my favorites is Petit Jean Coffeehouse where I can get both! I can get a coffee treat after a hike and browse their Arkansas-Made goodies. Kids always love getting to visit these shops (but it is just a bonus for the adults when coffee is involved).

Other favorite stops:

Coler Kids
The Bramble Market
Hello Local
Arkansas Boutiques
Loblolly Creamery
Ice Cream Shops
Book Stores

Writing this and reminiscing over all our hiking trips over the years in Arkansas makes me grateful to live in such a rich state full of natural beauty and entertainment. So, grab your shoes, kids, and some friends and GO EXPLORE ARKANSAS.

Bonus Tip: If you are a parent, be prepared to be a pack mule at some point on any given hiking trip.

Happy Hiking!

You might also check out:

Bridal Veil Falls and Collins Creek
Sugarloaf Hiking
Waterfalls in Arkansas
Devils Canyon
Hiking in Ponca
Rattlesnake Ridge
Wooly Hollow

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Amanda Farris is homeschooling mom to four. She is a teacher/coach who hung up her coaching whistle after she got promoted to motherhood. She loves running and homeschool and is a certified running coach and has a YouTube channel all about homeschooling. She loves long chats over coffee with her husband and fresh flowers on her table. Her friends would call her a "gatherer of people” and a “doer of projects” ! You can find her on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/@Home.School.andLife

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4 responses to “10 Tips for Hiking with Kids in Arkansas”

  1. Holli Boyett Holli Boyett says:

    Love this!!!!

  2. […] There are four hiking trails to choose from at Queen Wilhelmina. The most convenient one is probably the Reservoir Trail because it’s located right next to the lodge. It’s a short in-and-out trail that spans just ⅔ of a mile round trip. While it’s listed as a moderately strenuous trail, my 5-year-old made it without any issues. Other hiking options at Queen Wilhelmina include the Spring, Lovers’ Leap, and Ouachita National hiking trails. For other kid-friendly hike ideas around the state, check out this list. […]

  3. […] list for family-friendly winter hiking in central Arkansas. Don’t forget to take a look at this list of tips for hiking with kids. Geocaching, going on scavenger hunts and making movies are also some kid-friendly activities. And […]

  4. […] activity for kids but may require extra preparations to ensure the group’s safety. These 10 Tips for Hiking with Kids in Arkansas will help you have a great adventure. Not sure where to hike? Check out these trails: Lost Valley […]

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