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Tucked into the Ozarks off the beaten path is a beautiful little trail to a magnificent waterfall. Kings River Falls is one of those places, I’d always heard of but had never been to. To me, it is one of those places, where I saw a lot of its pictures but just never made it to there. In fact, the falls are on the cover of the Tim Ernst’s guide book, “Arkansas Hiking Trails”.
One reason that I never made it to this trail is that it’s kind of remote. Hawksbill Craig and Glory Hole Falls are nearby, but they are still about a 40-minute car ride. But this easy, 2-mile out-and-back hike is a great place for an afternoon stroll and exploring.
This trail is part of the Kings River Natural Area, which is managed by the Arkansas Department of Natural Heritage. The Department of Natural Heritage has 75 Natural Areas throughout Arkansas. These areas are great places to see some of the best examples of the state’s natural landscape.
Arkansas natural areas are places that protect special and rare natural communities, as well as several species that are considered threatened or endangered.
Finding the trailhead
To find the trailhead for Kings River Falls, head toward the community of Boston on Arkansas Highway 16 in Northwest Arkansas. Turn onto County Road 3175 heading north. Drive 2.1 miles and bear to the right at the intersection with County Road 3415. From there travel another 2.3 miles to you come to a “T” intersection with County Road 3500. Turn left onto County Road 3500 and continue across the creek to the parking area.
Great for kids
Hiking to Kings River Falls is a great trail for children. It’s a flat and mostly easy walk. There are a lot of river rocks to walk over, but it’s not difficult. The trail follows the river and there are lots of rocks, sticks, bugs, and things for children to explore.
Hiking to Kings River Falls
Once you park, you will find a large sign labeling the area as Kings River Falls Natural Area. The trail begins just past the sign and is marked with blue blazes. You begin your hike by paralleling Mitchell Creek, a tributary of Kings River.
After about 0.15 miles, Mitchell Creek feeds into the Kings River, and then trail begins to follow the Kings River. On your left is a beautiful field and a great place to watch for wildlife. But don’t cross into it, as it is private property.
As we were hiking toward the falls a group who met us on the return trip said, “The falls are worth it!” And my best friend, Crystal, said, “They may be something, but this is really pretty too,” waving her arm at the scenery surrounding us.
About halfway, you cross a small bridge. Around mile 0.75 a smaller waterfall gives you a taste of what is to come. The trail continues on for about another 0.25 miles before it ends at the falls.
Bring a picnic lunch or just enjoy some extra time at the falls. In the summer it’s a great place for a swim. Because it’s a short trail, try getting a later start to avoid the crowds. When we hiked it, it was our second hike of the day, which gave us a later start. We passed several groups of people on their return trip, but when we got there we were able to have the falls mostly to ourselves.
Kings River Falls
The Kings River is unique in the Ozarks because it flows from south to north. This short trail, which is on the interface of the Boston Mountains and Springfield Plateau, is a wonderful place to surround yourself with the Ozark Mountains. The Natural Area includes three miles of the river, and this is a great place to explore the area.
- 2 miles out and back
- Elevation gain nominal
- Dogs allowed
- Camping not allowed
Beautiful hike. I’m 74 and in reasonably good health. Had no trouble hiking. Go when the water is high. After a decent rain. Hike in a small finger food picnic and you can eat on the large rocks near the falls. Be sure to take a trash bag so nothing is left behind to make a negative imprint on this beautiful gift