“One of the longest and most diverse trails in the park, this is a great way to access varied terrain”
— Kyle Schildgen
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
If you're looking to escape from the crowds and urban areas of Hot Springs, this trail is the one for you! Covering a large distance of nearly 10 miles, this trail traverses some of the most varied terrain in the park.
Visitors can choose to begin the route at either the north or the south end, though the proximity to parking makes the southwestern extent the more popular option, and the southern trailhead is where this guide begins. As visitors first leave town, the trail is somewhat rolling, though any elevation change will be gradual. The first few miles of the trail are also more likely to have other visitors, but don't worry, the crowds thin after the two-mile mark. You'll enjoy traversing West Mountain, and there are multiple great overlooks to be had on this portion of the trail.
Moving into the middle section of the trail is where a feeling of solitude begins, and where you're most likely to see wildlife. Deer and wild turkey can be found in these quiet places, and are always a treat to catch sight of. There are also plenty of outcrops of novaculite, a mineral found in the Hot Springs Area that produces beautiful white outcrops. Take a moment to wonder at Balanced Rock, and the short jaunt down the Balanced Rock Trail
is well worth your time.
As you continue northeast, you'll enjoy the mixed forest and scenic glades that present themselves near the trail. The trail will eventually come to a T, where the most popular route heads east to the Sunset Trail \(Stonebridge Section\). While many visitors branch off here, it is possible to continue straight. This spur is only maintained to the park boundary, and more variable conditions exist.
There is ample parking access along the way, and visitors can arrange for shuttle pick up, or can also return the way that they came.
Flora & Fauna
You may be surprised by who you might see as turkey and deer populate the quiet portions of the trail.