Where to Experience the Best of Fall Foliage in Arkansas
Arkansas is gorgeous year-round, but fall is an especially eye-catching season. Fall foliage sets the Natural State ablaze with a blanket of vibrant reds, oranges, yellows. Grab your hiking boots and road trip essentials for a chance to see fall at its finest in Arkansas.
The Ozark Mountain region begins its color change in early October. The Peak usually occurs in late October to early November.
The Ouachitas and Arkansas River Valley take on color within a week or so following the Ozarks. Early mid-November is normally the peak time for this area.
The Delta and Gulf Coastal Plain are usually transformed by mid-November.
Scenic 7 Byway
Heading north from Russellville, the Scenic 7 Byway meanders through the Ozark National Forest up to Jasper. The Ozarks provide beautiful scenery as the road winds up through the Ozark Mountains. A great place to stop off for lunch is the Cliff House Inn and Restaurant in Jasper overlooking the “Grand Canyon of the Ozarks.” Or drive just a little farther for a meal at the Ozark Cafe, which opened in 1909 and boasts a sign on the front that reads, "A North Arkansas Landmark."
Pig Trail Scenic Byway
This byway passes through the forested Boston Mountains region of the Ozark Mountains. Thanks to the abundance of trees in the Ozark National Forest, drivers will feel as though they’re traveling through a tunnel of foliage during the fall months. This route is a favorite among Razorback fans heading up to Fayetteville to call the Hogs.
Whitaker Point Trail in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness
This easy, 3-mile roundtrip trail guides hikers to a crag overlooking Whitaker Creek and the Upper Buffalo wilderness. To locate the trail, hikers will find the trailhead at Boxley Valley at the intersection of Highway 21 and 43, then head south on Highway 21 for 1.2 miles. Just before the highway crosses the Buffalo River, turn right on a dirt road. Follow this road for six steep miles, passing Cave Mountain Church, and turn right into the "Wilderness Area" parking lot, where you’ll see the trailhead. The dirt road turnoff can be elusive, so for more detailed instructions stop at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca for a map and explanation from one of the center’s knowledgeable staff members.
Signal Hill Trail at Mount Magazine State Park
Catch Arkansas’ foliage on top of the state’s highest point — Signal Hill. At an elevation of 2,753 feet above sea level, hikers will be able to see fall foliage for miles in all directions. This well-groomed trail is just 1.5 miles from start to finish and connects the Cameron Bluff Campground with the Mossback Ridge Trail and the Lodge at Mount Magazine.
Yellow Rock Trail at Devil’s Den State Park
This trail will lead you 300 feet in elevation to one of the best views in the park. Atop the Yellow Rock you will have an unobstructed view of the Lee Creek valley, with an abundance of fall foliage dotting the landscape. Along the rest of the trail you will see cedar glades, interesting rock formations and the first structure built in the park. To reach the trail, head north to Fayetteville. About 8 miles south of Fayetteville on Interstate 540 take exit 53, then drive for 18 miles southwest on Highway 170. Once you enter the state park, look for signs directing you to the Yellow Rock trailhead or stop by the visitor’s center for directions.
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Little Rock Family.