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If you’re looking for a beautiful hike with a fairly easy trail, Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista is the place to go. Built by the hard work of volunteers, this is the trail I recommend most to anyone asking for a less than moderate hike in Northwest Arkansas. In fact, I hiked this trail at 9 months pregnant, about 3 days before our youngest was born. Trust me when I say if I could hike it then, anyone can hike it.
When you arrive at the trail, there’s a small parking lot with a pavilion and a paved trail leading out to the actual loop trail. The paved trail runs alongside a meadow. After a short walk, you’ll come to a sign and a fork in the trail. There are a few different ways you can go from here.
We decided to cross a small bridge and keep walking on a trail that led to the right through the woods. We soon came to a wooded area with rock bluffs and water trickling down over the rock face. This part of the trail was less crowded and so serene. It was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. Peace, serenity, the outdoors, birds chirping in the trees, wildlife scurrying through the undergrowth, my guys exploring ahead of me on the trail as I took my time walking and enjoying all of my surroundings… It was absolutely gorgeous.
As we meandered, crossing over the creek on small footbridges, we eventually came to the location of a cave. You have to hike up to the cave, so my boys scurried up to check it out. There was a shed-like structure collapsed in on the cave, so it’s not safe or possible to enter.
We looped around and headed back toward the fork in the trail. All along the way, we noticed signs pointing out different types of foliage, plants, and bushes.
We crossed over the main trail to head toward the suspension bridge.
This bridge is a beautiful photo opp, and kids absolutely love it. It crosses over the creek, leading to a bluff-side trail that winds through the woods alongside the creek.
When we reached the site of an old house (all that’s left is the foundation), we took a shortcut through the woods instead of continuing around the entire loop. The house that stood there burned in the 50’s; there were different types of flowering bushes around the area, and I could almost imagine an old homestead with a cared for yard back in its prime.
As we came to the end of our shortcut, we hit the main trail, an old roadbed, once more. This entire stretch of the trail from the suspension bridge on is a bit hilly, a little more up and down than the rest of the trail. Eventually, we came to the rapids, where we scrambled over rocks in the creek bed to get a good look.
When we left the rapids, we took a trail leading to a beautiful man-made waterfall, formed with run-off from Lake Windsor. This is probably the most popular part of the trail. Along the way, we came upon a couple who looked like they were enjoying a picnic after a small scavenger hunt for some sort of romantic celebration, maybe an anniversary. I huffed and puffed my way up the trail and to the overlook for the waterfall. It was totally worth every step and every breath.
While we skipped Lake Windsor there’s also a small trail leading up to the top of the dam, where you can see the lake. On our way back to the paved trail that led back to our car, we passed by a pond filled with lily pads, stirring my imagination and leaving me to wonder how many frog families live in that pond.
Part of the trail is paved, but most of it is natural dirt trail through the woods. Wear good shoes for hiking. The trail is a little over 2 miles in length with benches and places to rest along the way. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but they do need to be leashed.
There is a restroom by the parking lot and the pavilion.
Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is located in Bella Vista. From Highway 71, you’ll head west on 340 to a sign for the Lake Windsor Dam. The parking lot for Tanyard Creek Nature Trail will be on your left.
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