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Autumnal outdoor recommendations from Ozarks at Large

A trail sign at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

The calendar says it’s fall, and finally, the weather is starting to do the same thing. Joining me in the Bruce and Ann Applegate News Studio 2 to discuss some fall activity suggestions is OAL’s Jack Travis.

That’s right, the air is starting to gain a chill, and the leaves are on the brink of turning, so today, I’m going to talk about some excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation around Northwest Arkansas that will allow you to take full advantage of what is arguably region's best time of year.

OK, so let’s hear your first recommendation.

I’d like to start off by talking about two great, accessible hikes that take you down paths ripe with natural beauty.

First, we’re going to Hobbs State Park near Rogers. The Ozark Plateau trail is a wonderful trail there that’s only three-quarters of a mile long, plus it’s completely paved and wheelchair friendly.

This trail is perfect for an afternoon stroll on a brisk autumnal day. Wildlife is abundant in Hobbs State Park, so you will probably run into some furry or feathered friends during your walk as they use this time of year to fatten up before winter.

The park is also hosting a family-friendly event on Oct 28 called the Living Forest Mystery. The main attraction will be a 40-minute guided hike down the Ozark Plateau trail in which kids can interact with customed characters and solve… a mystery. Sounds interesting.

Consider checking out some harder trails while you're in the park, like the 8-mile Pigeons Roost Loop around Beaver Lake, or staying at one of the park's cabins or campsites. Visit Arkansas State Park’s website for more information about the park’s trails and accommodations

Hobbs State Park and the many trails with it. Excellent. Where to next?

The next trail takes you to Eden Falls up the Lost Valley Trail. This path is located in the heart of the Ozarks near the Boxley Valley Historic District in the Buffalo River Wilderness.

The trail is very easy to follow once you exit the parking lot. It leads you up a box canyon alongside Clark Creek under the shade of giant beech trees. A small waterfall and a giant natural amphitheater meet you near the top.

Now, this next part might be a bit tricky. If you follow some steps above the waterfall you will reach the Picturesque Eden Falls. The really amazing part about this cascade is that it flows out of a 200 ft cave. If you’re brave enough and have a flashlight handy, you can hike into the cave to view an additional 25-foot waterfall. The experience is one-of-a-kind, and I highly recommend it to anyone.

The best part about Lost Valley is how you can really choose your own adventure. There are plenty of benches for resting and wildlife viewing. Visit the National Park Service website for more information and directions on how to get there.

I love Lost Valley, and I love that it’s a place people of all comfort levels can go and feel like they’re doing it right.


You’ve got one more for us?

One more. I’d like to end the conversation with a cycling recommendation because you can’t talk about Northwest Arkansas without mentioning bikes.

Now, gravel cycling is gaining a ton of traction in the cycling community– listeners can check out my story on that for the hows and whys– but today I’m going to offer up a nice gravel loop just 18 miles away from downtown Fayetteville. The Sugartree 50-kilometer loop starts at the Lincoln Lake Trailhead and takes riders up dirt roads to the Sugartree Mountain Ridgeline where they can view the Historic Cincinnati Valley in all of its fall-foliaged glory.

Outdoor enthusiasts can stay in this area for some phenomenal bouldering, sport climbing, trail running, and mountain biking around Lincoln Lake.

Experience Fayetteville and RIDE with GPS have a great map on their website for anyone interested in tackling this challenging, but rewarding, ride.

Jack Travis is our resident outdoor recreation aficionado here at Ozarks at Large.

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Jack Travis is a reporter for <i>Ozarks at Large</i>.<br/>
Matthew Moore is senior producer for Ozarks at Large.
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