Spring is here, and it’s the perfect time of the year to get out and enjoy the outdoors. It’s also one of the busiest times of the year, but luckily several trails are incredibly close to Fayetteville.
So for those who want an outdoor adventure, but don’t have the time for a full weekend excursion from the city, here are some of the best and closest trails primed and ready for hiking in and around Fayetteville.
Photos: Trent Sugg
Location: Access the trail behind Ozark Mountain Smokehouse, just off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. (Map) or at the city’s new trailhead off South Cato Springs Road (Map)
Distance: About 8.5 miles of trails
Amenities: Hiking trail, mountain biking trails, rock formations, and scenic views
Located right off of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Mt. Kessler offers diverse features on a foliage-rich trail. Parking across from the Sharp residence (look for a stone house on the left with some friendly goats and dogs) is available throughout the week, but additional spaces are available at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse for busy days. Also, a city-owned trailhead opened last summer off South Cato Springs Road, complete with a gravel parking lot.
Maintained by the Ozark Offroad Cyclists (OORC), the trail has room enough for both hikers and bikers.
The first stretch goes uphill through Rock City Trail, which treats those on it with views of both dramatic rock formations, and clear views of the surrounding landscapes for miles.
After this section, the trail splinters off with several paths to choose from. Some of them, like the Spellbound Loop, are more mountain biking-orientated, but others lead to ideal hiking destinations. The old wine cellar, for example, is a perfect respite from the rigorous trail for hikers. The colors in spring are vibrant and full, and they alone are worth the short trip.
Altogether the network covers over eight miles of trail, and several trips to cover it all may be necessary.
Photos: Andrew Gibbs-Dabney
Location: 4668 S Lake Wilson Drive W.C. 165 (Map)
Distance: 1.8-mile loop
Amenities: Hiking trail, lake, picnic tables, pavilion
With a serene background every step of the way, Lake Wilson provides a simple and leisurely trail for all Fayetteville residents to enjoy.
Picnic tables are located under an available pavilion along the right side of the road which leads into the trail. Staying relatively flat through the 1.8-mile loop, the path passes several streams with varying height.
The trail never strays more than a few feet from the lake, and multiple cuts provide opportunities to set up for fishing or picnics.
The most remote of the three trails, Lake Wilson is about 25 minutes from downtown Fayetteville. Dogs are welcome (off-leash) at this park, and fishing is allowed as well.
Mt. Sequoyah Trail
Photos: Andrew Gibbs-Dabney
Location: 5 N. Happy Hollow Road (Map)
Distance: 1.25 miles
Amenities: Hiking trail, picnic tables, gazebo
Most know of this location for the iconic lookout point on the west side of Skyline Drive, but tucked away to the east is a wonderful hiking trail.
The entrance is just to the right of Williams Drive near the radio tower. Crisscrossing through the slow declining side of Mt. Sequoyah, lush tunnels of leaves decorate the path, and make for an ideal leisurely day hike. Several miles are covered with sprawling branches of trails detailed here.
Another great trail maintained by the OORC, at the bottom lies a handcrafted gazebo and a small picnic area. Located closest to the heart of Fayetteville, this trail is a must-see in spring and fall. Paddock Road offers an alternative entrance to the trail as well.
These trails show some of the best parts of Fayetteville, but obviously options exist beyond them. Lake Sequoyah and Lincoln are not too much further, and the always amazing Buffalo and Mulberry River are never more than a few hours away.
As the weather begins the warm the world up, all these options Fayettevillians have come to enjoy for countless years are open for exploration and leisure.
Brian O’Dea ((@ryanonyte) is an avid fan of all things outdoors, UofA graduate, and travel writer for the local outdoor company Fayettechill. .