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Old 11-11-2012, 05:45 PM
 
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We are planning to spend 5 days (Thanksgiving break) exploring the great outdoors in Arkansas. We currently have 1. "Arkansas adventure guide" 2. Tim Ernst's "Arkansas Hiking trails," but we could use some advice from you all too.

I consider this a reconnaissance mission: N Texas outdoor rec is depressingly limited and we are looking for decent hiking, camping, biking and canoeing/kayaking opportunities w/in the shortest distance possible. This trip, however, will be limited to hiking and camping.

It seems that the Ouachitas, the Ozarks and the Buffalo River areas are all worth visiting. For a 5 day trip from DFW, would you recommend that we focus on the Ouachitas exclusively (perhaps Little Missouri NA, then Lake Ouachita area)? Or would it be worth our while to spend a couple of days in the Ouachitas then to head north to the Ozarks?

My wife and I are former hardcore backpackers, but now we have our 2.5 year old son in tow. We're looking at car camping w/ day hikes or possible light backpacking. I love creeks, waterfalls, views of green hills/mtns etc. I hear ARK has these in spades. Any advice?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Bentonville, AR
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I'm not much of an expert since I recently moved here but I think you should have time for both.
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Old 11-11-2012, 10:40 PM
 
Location: The middle of nowhere Arkansas
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Ozarks, especially that area around the buffalo river not that there is anything wrong with the ouachitas.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:44 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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I love the Buffalo wilderness area - there is some beauty to behold there that can only be seen on foot - have you seen this link to the trail?

Buffalo National River - Backpacking Trails

I'd make Hawksbill Crag if I were you and I were taking this route - it is spectacular - but please bear in mind we are expecting rain at some point this week so you may run into creeks rather than creekbeds.


Buffalo River, Ponca Arkansas, Hiking April 2011 - YouTube

Hawksbill Crag : Climbing, Hiking & Mountaineering : SummitPost

If you're looking for day hikes, I'd suggest hitting 3 areas in a week and getting a lot of bang for the buck - I'd suggest Petit Jean, which is outside Morrilton. There's a gorgeous new lodge there and the area quiet, quiet this time of year. Another area might be Mt. Nebo, which is up the road at Dardanelle, probably 30 miles. And then if you wanted to cut over to Paris you could hit Mt. Magazine, the tallest place in Arkansas. There is a new lodge there as well, and the views off the back deck are breathtaking.

You could actually do Petit Jean, Hawksbill, and Nebo or Magazine in a week easily. Wherever you go, enjoy and please come back and let us know what you thought of your adventure!
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:23 AM
 
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I second Sam's recommendations. My parents went to Petit Jean a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed themselves. Do pay attention to the weather, though. It's unpredictable this time of year. Be prepared for anything: heat, cold, and rain.
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
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I am a super supporter of the Ouachita (Mountains) National Forest hiking/backpacking trails, but they are too rugged for a 2.5 year old child. I understand, since the campground disaster at Albert Pike a few years ago, all campgrounds on the ONF are closed to overnight camping, and some are completely closed for the season. For future plans; the upper Cossatot is Primo canoing with several levels of ability.

I believe this is the first time I have ever discouraged anyone from "come on up" to my Ouachitas , but where ever you choose to go I'm sure you will have a great trip, and welcome to The Natural State .
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:14 PM
 
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Thanks for all of the advice!

Petit Jean and Mt. Nebo look like a good, family-friendly introduction to the Natural state. I hadn't previously heard about the tragedy at Albert Pike; what a shame. Both the Cossatot and Buffalo are on my list for paddling and the Womble is on my bike list. As my son ages I anticipate return trips!

Here's to hoping the dry weather holds (even as I pack our rain gear).
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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Petit Jean is absolutely gorgeous - but includes lots of steep, abrupt high cliffs without rails, some adjacent to the cabin and lodge area. Consider using a leash-backpack for your little one - there are cute ones available with monkeys or teddy bear designs. Carrying him on your own back (in a child carrier) also might be something to consider.

Toddlers can get away in the blink of an eye, so exert extra care and your little guy should be just fine. Make sure he gets to play on the turtle rocks, visit the Bear Cave (fantastic rock formations, steep drop-offs - use care) and the Rock House shelter with Indian petroglyphs!
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Petit Jean is absolutely gorgeous - but includes lots of steep, abrupt high cliffs without rails, some adjacent to the cabin and lodge area. Consider using a leash-backpack for your little one - there are cute ones available with monkeys or teddy bear designs. Carrying him on your own back (in a child carrier) also might be something to consider.

Toddlers can get away in the blink of an eye, so exert extra care and your little guy should be just fine. Make sure he gets to play on the turtle rocks, visit the Bear Cave (fantastic rock formations, steep drop-offs - use care) and the Rock House shelter with Indian petroglyphs!
Cool. Thanks for the child-specific advice. We have a device to carry him on our (my) back; but certainly he'll want to explore at times too.

I was able to reserve a room in the lodge for three nights at Petit Jean (just decided it'd be easier than camping). Would you all recommend Mt. Nebo, Buffalo River or elsewhere for a 4th night?

Thanks so much for the advice; love the hospitality in ARK already!
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:57 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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Camp, I have not personally stayed at this place but got rave reviews from a friend a few weeks ago - it's in Ponca, which is one of the places you can put in to float next year.

Cedar Crest Lodge and Cabin

They hiked Lost Valley Trail and said it was incredible, although a little short - the waterfall is supposed to be one of the main attractions on the hike. They have a write up on it on the site under "The Area". I don't know if it's available, but the area around Ponca is just beautiful. Looks like both the lodge and cabin are booked late in the week but if you went the first part? Also, if you contacted them they might have suggestions on another place in the area.
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