One of the most popular things to do in Fayetteville is to simply enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors. To anyone who’s ever visited Fayetteville, that’s no surprise, as we’re a city nestled in the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks, moments away from natural areas no matter where you are in town. The city overflows with nature preserves, parks, and natural wetlands which encompass 3,000 acres of land. Fayetteville alone has 70 parks with more than 40 miles of paved and natural trails, three lakes, and more - including the still-developing public outdoor space downtown, The Ramble.
Fayetteville’s temperate climate makes enjoying the outdoors possible year-round, but with warmer weather right around the corner, both residents of and guests to Fayetteville are beginning to get antsy for those weekend adventures into the outdoors! Whether that means biking on the Razorback Regional Greenway, having a picnic in a green space, or hitting the trails for a memorable hike, there's something fun for everyone in Fayetteville's great outdoors.
For hiking enthusiasts in particular, Fayetteville and the surrounding area of Northwest Arkansas offer a multitude of hiking trails, ranging in length and level of difficulty. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started!
Lake Fayetteville Trail
Located on the north end of town, Lake Fayetteville Trail is one of the most popular city trails. It loops the lake with a combination of paved and natural surface shared by walkers, runners and bikers. Along with a disc-golf course at the park, there is a variety of flora and fauna in natural settings along the trail, as well as beautiful views of the lake, so be sure to take your camera.
The paved multi-use trail is 5.5 miles long, and the soft surface natural trail is 6.9 miles long. The trail offers benches, playgrounds and picnic areas, restrooms, informational kiosks and lighting. Be sure to stop at the rest areas on the beautiful, award winning bridge spanning the lake spillway.
Kessler Mountain Trails
There are 13 miles of connected multi-use, soft-surface trails at Kessler Mountain, which is located just west of the city limits off of Cato Springs Road (Razorback Road). With trail names like “Spellbound”, “Egg Beater,” “Western Myth,” “Serpentine” and “Crazy Mary,” it’s not hard to imagine why Kessler Mountain is such a popular destination for both mountain biking and hiking.
As the newest addition to Fayetteville’s trail system, hikers can enjoy the view of Fayetteville and Prairie Grove skylines as they climb to the mountain’s peak. Only minutes from the University of Arkansas campus and the Downtown & Dickson Street Entertainment District, Kessler Mountain is a perfect, quick getaway before a Razorbacks game or a night on the town.
With more than 10 strategically and sustainably designed trails, the Kessler Mountain Trail system addresses the needs of all visitors: hikers, bikers, nature enthusiasts, trail runners, large groups, families, and users with special needs. Trails range from easy to very difficult, offering a multitude of experiences for any visitor.
Yellow Rock Trail at Devil’s Den State Park
Hiking, backpacking, and mountain-bike trails take outdoor enthusiasts to wild backcountry areas of Devil’s Den State Park and the surrounding Ozark National Forest. For hikers, the Yellow Rock Trail is a favorite for its overlook over the Lee Creek valley, as well as boulders, bluffs, crevices and beautiful rock formations.
Truth be told, any of the park’s hiking trails are picturesque, including the relatively moderate 3-mile Yellow Rock Trail that climbs a few hundred feet to a rocky overlook. Longer trails include the Old Road Trail (4.5 miles), Gorley King Trail (7 miles), Vista Point Trail (9 miles) and Butterfield Hiking Trail (15 miles).
From Fayetteville, take I-49 south and exit at either West Fork or Winslow. The West Fork exit has a little longer drive into the park, and the Winslow exit features more switchbacks coming into the park. Either way allows for a beautiful drive and gets you there quick — and, you can always take the other way out! (Some people enjoy driving out of Fayetteville on U.S. 71 and crossing I-49 at West Fork. A popular attraction along the way is the Arkansas Air & Military Museum.)