Tag - Difficulty: Moderate/ Strenuous

More challenging hikes. We rate the difficulty level on these as Moderate (3 of 5) or Strenuous (4 of 5).

Mount Nebo: Summit Park Trail – 2 mi

Mount Nebo: Summit Park Trail - 2 mi photo
Vista on the trail at the south part of the loop, just before the trail joins the Rim Trail.

The Summit Park Trail, named for the Summit Park Hotel (1889-1918), is one of the two coolest trails at Mount Nebo State Park (Yell County, near Russellville). (The Rim Trail is the other.)

Summit Park Trail is a vigorous walk with about 500 feet of elevation gain. (Elevation change is about 300 feet.) It make a 1.6-mile loop across the west side of the mountain.

About 1/3 of it is shared with the Rim Trail. Most of the rest runs parallel to the Rim Trail.

This hike is very scenic. Although most of it does not have a lot of vista views (during leaf-on), it has wonderfully interesting terrain, slopes, and many interesting and scenic rocky areas.

Mount Nebo: Summit Park Trail - 2 mi photo
Downhill steps from the trailhead.

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Lake Catherine: Horseshoe Mountain Trail – 3 mi

Lake Catherine: Horseshoe Mountain Trail – 3 mi photo
Horseshoe Mountain Trail, Lake Catherine State Park – South-facing vista with Lake Catherine in the distance.

The 2.7-mile Horseshoe Mountain Trail at Lake Catherine State Park (near Hot Springs) is gorgeous and unique trail to the Ouachitas.

Most of this vigorous trail is on a horseshoe-shaped ridge line through glade vegetation, which makes the trail beautiful and unique. I love the shorter trees and taller grasses on this part of the trail.

Lake Catherine: Horseshoe Mountain Trail – 3 mi photo
My dog, Caddie, making the ascent on the Horseshoe Mountain Trail.

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Cecil Cove Trail Loop (Buffalo River) – 6 mi

Cecil Cove Trail Loop (Buffalo River) - 6 mi photo
Blue pool near Van Dyke Spring

The former community of Erbie (north Newton County, Buffalo National River) offers a variety of hiking trails that can be combined for larger or shorter loops. Because it was a community, many of the trails feature historical sites that tell a story of early settlers to the area.

The 6.4-mile Cecil Cove Trail Loop, much of which follows Cecil Creek, is one of these. It provides a wonderful assortment of spring-fed ponds, streams, historic stone walls, a historic cemetery, former home sites, and a spur trail that leads to a couple of awesome waterfalls.

This is a full day of nature and historic sites that is well worth the trip. The trail is also shared by horses.

The elevation change on the hike is about 850 feet

Cecil Cove Trail Loop (Buffalo River) - 6 mi photo
Cecil Cove Loop Trail – part of the trail follows an old road bed

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Hunt’s Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 4 mi

Hunt’s Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 4 mi photo
The view from the Short Mountain vista.

One of my favorite day hikes around Hot Springs is the Hunt’s Loop Trail in the Ouachita National Forest (north Garland County/south Perry County).

The 4.3-mile-hike takes you straight up Short Mountain to a gorgeous vista and then through some of the most beautiful woods along the ridge of the mountain before returning to the narrow valley of the Middle Fork of the Saline River.

It is a moderate trail overall. The only difficult part is at the beginning (going clockwise) up Short Mountain. The elevation change is about 500 feet.

Hunt’s Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 4 mi photo
Heading north on Hunt’s Loop Trail on top of Short Mountain, Ouachita National Forest
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