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You know what’s stupidly expensive? HAVING KIDS! They cost an arm and a leg, just to be born. Then you have to feed them. And clothe them. Then you spend the next 18 years spending gobs of cash just to entertain them.
From soccer teams to the latest gadgets, filling their childhood with memories is the most expensive part of parenting.
But it doesn’t have to be.
We recently decided to take up hiking, in an effort to step into nature more often and save some money. That’s how we discovered our favorite family hikes in Northwest Arkansas.
Who knew there was so much fun, all within an hour’s drive of beautiful Northwest Arkansas?
Top 5 Family Hikes in Northwest Arkansas
Dripping Springs Trail: (Natural Falls State Park)
Technically located in Oklahoma, Natural Falls State Park is only about an hour from the heart of Northwest Arkansas, but it’s worth the drive. This 120 acre park is a quick and easy hike for all ages. The lookout bridge provides a great view for visitors and fans of Where the Red Fern Grows, which is rumored to have been set in the area. We always recommend this hike for beginners because it’s only about a mile long and is a pretty simple hike. But the reward of seeing the gorgeous 77 foot waterfall is enough to convince folks to fall in love with hiking.
Devil’s Kitchen Trail: (Roaring River State Park)
Just outside of Cassville, Missouri, Roaring River State Park is one you won’t want to miss. With plenty to do, the state park offers guided hikes, small classes and plenty of history. It’s nestled deep in the woods but only a few minutes from town. Roaring River is also our go-to fishing area, especially on their annual kids fishing days.
Tanyard Creek Nature Trail: (Bella Vista)
If you’re looking for simple family hikes in Northwest Arkansas that allows the kiddos to splash in the shallow pools of water, this is it! With gorgeous waterfalls and a swinging bridge, it’s a whole lot of fun and located right in the middle of town.
When we spend the day hiking Tanyard Creek Nature Trail, we grab a couple of pizzas from Dominos and eat under the pavilion. Being so close to town gives us plenty of other options for lunch, including Subway, Casey’s, Sonic and Dairy Queen.
Lost Valley Trailhead: (Buffalo National River)
Caves, waterfalls and gorgeous streams are just the tip of the iceberg at Lost Valley Trailhead. The whole family will love spelunking through the caves and enjoying the breathtaking views. Between Eden fall, a series of 4 waterfalls and the massive “Cobb Cave,” it’s no wonder Lost Valley Trailhead was named one of the top trails in Arkansas. At 2.5 miles long, it is a bigger hike for small kids, but with plenty to see and do, you can stop and rest as needed.
Crystal Bridges: (Bentonville)
Have you ever wondered how nature can stay so peaceful while the busy cities around them continue to grow and grow and grow? Crystal Bridges is the perfect example of how you can combine art with nature and create an amazing oasis for the whole family. With 8 different trails, around a mile or less, there’s plenty of exploring to do at Crystal Bridges.
While you’re there, check out the everchanging museum and art exhibits. There’s everything from works by Frank Lloyd Wright to a children’s art area. There’s literally enough to keep the whole family happy and best of all, nearly everything at Crystal Bridges is free!
Northwest Arkansas is booming and there are family friendly hikes all over the area! Whether you want to spend the entire day or just a few hours, you can enjoy a day of exercise and fun with your family that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
I’d love to hear about your family’s favorite hiking spots!
Leave me a comment below so we can check them out!