The 6 best trails in the Ozarks aren’t secrets to locals—but they’re lesser known in KC
ALUM COVE TRAIL
Alum Cove Trail is a short loop trail seventy miles due south of Branson that features one of the largest natural bridges in the area. The trail takes you across the top of the natural bridge and down, then loops around a short but beautiful landscape filled with streams, caves and rock formations. It’s an easy hike with lots of unique features.
Twin Falls—also known as Triple Falls—is a scenic and easy waterfall hike. From the parking lot to the falls is just a couple hundred yards. When the falls are running well, it’s triple falls, but the falls are fed from two water sources, making them twins. The most trouble you will have with this one will be the steep and sometimes muddy gravel road leading to the parking area.
Hemmed-In Hollow Trail is a long out-and-back trail in the Ponca Wilderness Area of the Buffalo National River. This is a challenging hike that leads to the tallest waterfall in Arkansas. Nothing too technical, but some steep climbs down and back out make this quite a workout with gorgeous rewards. You can expect to spend four hours on the trail, so be sure to take plenty of water and snacks.
BIG BLUFF/GOAT TRAIL
Big Bluff and Goat Trail is an out-and-back trail to a five-hundred-foot bluff overlooking the Buffalo River. The narrow side trail along a sheer cliff leading to an outcropping on the bluff is called the Goat Trail and is more than three hundred feet tall. If you are afraid of heights, you’ll want to skip this section. The entire hike out is downhill, all the way to the bluff. But of course this means you will need to hike uphill on the way out. The view from the bluff is absolutely amazing—bring a lunch.
ROUND TOP MOUNTAIN
This trail makes several loops around the base of the mountaintop bluffs and features some really nice views of the area, unusual rock formations and wildflowers. There is a unique point of interest on this trail, though. On a foggy night in February of 1948, a B-25 bomber crashed into the mountain at this site, killing all five military passengers. There are several fragments of the plane around the site.
Hawksbill Crag (Whitaker Point) is one of the most popular hikes in Arkansas, and for good reason: The view from the crag is spectacular. And because of that amazing view, it’s a highly trafficked trail, especially in the fall. If you are looking for fewer people but don’t want to miss out on the beautiful scenery, head out on this trail in the dark to catch the sunrise from the crag. Bring a thermos of coffee and sit with your face to the rising sun. Interesting fact: Disney filmed the opening to Tuck Everlasting here.