Alum Cove Trail is a great short day hike that showcases some unique rock formations in the Ozarks. This 1-mile loop takes hikers over and under one of the largest natural bridges in this part of the country. It also takes you by interesting caves, arches, and in the wet season, waterfalls.
Finding the trailhead
To find the trailhead for Alum Cove Trail, turn west from Highway 7 onto Highway 16. Follow Highway 16 west for 1.1 miles, and then turn onto NFM 28. Follow NFM 28 for 3.1 miles and then turn right on County Road 184 which ends at the trailhead.
Hiking the Alum Cove Trail
The Alum Cove Trail is a lollipop loop that begins by hiking down into the valley. The trail is part of the Ozark National Forest and is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. At mile 0.2 the trail splits and goes to the left or straight toward the natural bridge. Either way, you hike, you will come back to this place.
Fascinated by the natural bridge, I ended up wandering on top of it so I just chose to go straight and hike the loop counterclockwise. After you cross the bridge the trail drops down below it and a spur trail will take you under the bridge. You can also wait until the trail loops back around.
You cross a stream and then the trail follows below a bluff line with some pretty awesome caves and rock formations. Around mile 0.7 the trail turns sharply to your left and you cross the creek again.
The trail takes you under the bridge around mile 0.85 where you can explore and play in the waterfalls. After this part, you can rejoin the stick part of the lollipop loop and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
The Alum Cove area has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. Native Americans reportedly used the caves and overhangs along the Alum Cove Trail as shelter while on hunting trips, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest’s website states. It also says that early European settlers in the Ozarks took advantage of the natural bridge to move their livestock and wagons across the stream during rainy and wet weather.
Alum Cove Trail
The Alum Cove Trail is really a beautiful and unique hike in Arkansas. Water and wind have shaped this area and it reminded me of hiking in Utah, only with trees. It’s a fun trail for children too. When crossing over the natural bridge there is a cliff, however, the forest service has placed wooden rails. But you’ll still want to keep an eye on young ones.
The trail is short and not too steep, so you can take your time and let your kids explore. Picnic tables at the trailhead make for a great place for lunch after the hike.
- 1 mile loop
- Elevation gain nominal
- Dogs allowed
- Camping not allowed