Located in the middle of the state, Clarksville, Arkansas is the “southern gateway to the Ozarks”. Only a few miles north of the Arkansas River and just south of the Ozark Mountains, Clarksville is positioned as a great town for your next family Arkansas vacation. Call Clarksville home for the week, and enjoy different Ozark hiking trails daily without running out of places to explore. 

While I’m only highlighting the four shorter trails we explored in May 2023, a quick look at AllTrails will show you all the hiking adventures in this part of northwest Arkansas. These top four Arkansas waterfall trails are not heavily trafficked and are great if you’re looking to have a true hiking adventure.

Leave time to explore downtown and have some unique meals in Clarksville. Grab a coffee at Delicioso Cupcakery, dinner at Wrecked Canoe, or homemade ice cream at La Michoacana. Check out even more local treasured at “Clarksville, Arkansas: Everything You Need to Know.”

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Service Visitor Center
Hike #1: Haw Creek Falls Recreation Area; Hagarville, AR
Hike #2: Pam’s Grotto Trail, Hagarville, AR
Hike #3: Glory Hole Falls Trail; Ozone, AR
Hike #4: High Bank Twin Falls; Pettigrew, AR
Waterfall Day Trip Itinerary from Clarksville, AR

Bouldering on the Pam's Grotto Trail near Clarksville, AR
Bouldering on the Pam’s Grotto Trail near Clarksville, AR

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How to Be Prepared for an Ozark Hike

When we explore these Clarksille, Arkansas waterfall trails, I didn’t know what to expect. Don’t let this scare you off from exploring, I just want you to be prepared and know what to expect.

The trails listed below are somewhat easily found if you know what you’re looking for, but don’t plan to rely on your phone’s GPS to take you there. You won’t have cell signal to search for your next destination, and some of the trailheads for these Arkansas waterfall trails aren’t clearly marked. Download the directions to your phone if you have that capability and grab a paper map at the visitor center if possible.

Don’t have a strict schedule. I did have to backtrack a bit to locate some of these trails heads. Allow for wiggle room, and accept that you may get turned around. Make sure you pay attention to highway markers and measure distance between sights. Several of these even require a short walk from the parking area along the county highway.

Bring everything you plan to eat or drink. While there are a few scattered small town gas stations scattered in this area of the Ozark mountains, plan to not have them. Bring extra water and snacks. Prepare to not have running water or full restrooms. And make sure your car, spare tire, and emergency kit are ready for adventure. People and towns few and far between. When you become a prepared adventure mom, you’ll have everything ready to go!

Don’t forget some dry clothes, towel, and bag for wet clothes. These waterfalls and water play day could leave your littles soaked.

Make sure you check out the waterfall day trip from Clarksville to more easily plan your day.

Ozark-St. Francis National Park Visitor Center outside of Clarksville, Arkansas
Ozark-St. Francis National Park Visitor Center outside of Clarksville, Arkansas

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Service Visitor Center

Start your day exploring Clarksville, Arkansas waterfalls with a trip to the national forest visitor center to stock up on good paper maps to help plan your day. Located thirty minutes south of Haw Creek Falls, this highly-suggested stop is the on the way to your first hike if you’re planning to make a day’s loop exploring Clarksville’s Ozark Forest.

With a few educational exhibits about the local wildlife animals, make the kids get out of the car here to do some learning about the area. Staffed with forest rangers, this visitor center is a great place to ask any remaining questions about the area and about your day ahead. (And to take one last potty break!)

If you’re out early for the day before the Clarksville visitor center opens, there are paper maps and brochures outside. Don’t hesitate to stop.

Boy exploring Haw Creek Falls near Clarksville, Arkansas
Boy exploring Haw Creek Falls near Clarksville, Arkansas

Hike #1: Haw Creek Falls Recreation Area; Hagarville, AR

Located in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, Haw Creek Falls campground is the perfect backdrop for a weekend unplugged or for an hour of kid water play and exploration. The Haw Creek Recreation Area is an easily marked, small primitive campground without electricity, water, or fee. With less than ten camping sites, this is a quiet area.

The trail to Haw Creek Falls from the campground is not marked with a sign, but it is an easily found foot-worn area. To find Haw Creek Falls, drive around the campground loop until you are close to the pit restrooms. Park here, and take a short footpath across the road toward the sound of the river. Take some time to plan to hang near the falls for a while. It’s a beautiful setting surrounded by shady hardwood forest.

The trail itself is relatively flat and only 0.2 miles long out and back; see Haw Creek Trail on AllTrails. This is a great quick and beautiful stop if you’re simply driving through and want to get some wiggly kids out of the car.

Located only 14 miles north of Hagarville, Haw Creek Falls is a great day adventure from Clarksville without adding in any other side trips. The short falls and shallow pool are perfect to allow for some water play for people and animals alike. Flowing down into a small creek, shallow water time here doesn’t have the risk of your kid floating away. This area would be great for little especially for littles. 

Warning: With only one road into the campground over a low water bridge, you will be unable to access the campground after a rain. We were there in the dry season, and there was still a small amount of water on the road. Don’t attempt it – just come back another time and watch for flash flooding.

Pam's Grotto Waterfall Trail in the Arkansas Ozarks
Pam’s Grotto Waterfall Trail in the Arkansas Ozarks 

Hike #2: Pam’s Grotto Trail, Hagarville, AR

The Pam’s Grotto Trail near Hagarville, Arkansas is not a trail for the timid. Plan to spend no less than an hour exploring this area. Climb the forested trail along the sandstone bluffs to an isolated grotto with a waterfall entering from the top. The overhanging waterfall gets even better after a heavy rain.

To arrive at the Pam’s Grotto parking lot, continue the highway from Haw Creek only 0.2 miles. If you’ve reached the historic highway bridge over the river, you have gone too far. Located on the same side of the road as the campground, keep your eyes open for a rough entrance to a large, unpaved dirt parking area among the trees. Plan to explore the area at the parking and see a continuation of Haw Creek. It’s a beautiful view.

To get to Pam’s Grotto trailhead, cross the highway to walk a short distance (in the direction away from the Haw Creek stop) to the entrance of the trail. There is not an official highway marker for this trail apart from a spray painted “Pam” on the curb of the highway at the entrance of the trail. 

Follow the dirt trail up hill to a split where the trail takes off to the right. Follow this briefly to explore a bluff to an overhang but turn back to continue the original trail. 

Mom warning! Before the waterfalls, you will be climbing over huge boulders without a specifically marked trail. As there are portions that are pretty close to the edge, I wouldn’t recommend this trail for small kids or baby-wearing. This requires some major scrambling. Although I could have made it, I just didn’t want to. 🙂  . The four kids made it using their hands and feet to boulder their way to the waterfall flowing above their heads.

Glory Hole Falls near Ozark, Arkansas

Hike #3: Glory Hole Falls Trail; Ozone, AR

The Glory Hole Waterfall Trailhead is a popular trail right off Highway 16. Look for the large paved parking area on the side of the road. Although I didn’t see a specific trail sign at the parking lot, several little small trails meet up with the larger dirt trail. When you’re at the wider trail, you’ve arrived

Although downhill and paved at the start of the trail, it will not stay like this. Prepare to hike upward on the way back to the car.  This two-mile in and out trail will take you about an hour to complete. As the trail progresses, it gets rougher, but it’s still easily followed until the end.

While the overlook to the top of Glory Hole is easily located at the end of the trail, you will have to forge your own trail across boulders to get to the bottom of the waterfall. With a beautiful overhanging cliff, the extra excursion is worth it, but it’s definitely off-roading. This overhang creates a fun cave the kids will want to explore.

Climbing the Waterfalls at High Bank Twin Falls near Ozark, Arkansas
Climbing the Waterfalls at High Bank Twin Falls near Ozark, Arkansas

Hike #4: High Bank Twin Falls; Pettigrew, AR

At 0.4 miles, High Bank Twin Falls is an easy little waterfall adventure for a family hike near Ozark, Arkansas. This 15 minute trail has only a slight incline and takes you to a 70 foot tall double waterfall. Follow the path past a smaller double waterfall on the right to continue the trail to the left until you dead-end at the twin falls.

Unmarked from the highway, this hidden trail will probably have you off an adventure with just your crew!Finding this trailhead can be an adventure if you don’t pay attention! Park at the “High Bank Canoe Launch” parking area labeled by an Ozark National Forest sign on the north side of Road 215. Walk east along the shoulder of Arkansas 215 until crossing over a small concrete bridge. There is a dirt pathway on the east end of the bridge directly behind the black and yellow hazard sign. 

Playing in the water at the "High Bank Canoe Launch" parking area
Playing in the water at the “High Bank Canoe Launch” parking area

My parking suggestiong to see High Bank Twin Falls is to park right down the road at High Bank Canoe Access and walk along the road to the entrance. However, right across from the entrance to the trail there is a dirt patch that appears to have been used as parking for hikers. If you don’t want to add more distance to your adventure, park here.

Bonus: Take time to walk down to the canoe launch from the parking lot and skip rocks in the river. Although the water was low when we were there, it’s still a great place for a little picnic and skipping rocks. Make sure you take advantage of this port-a-potty too!

Haw Creek Falls in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains
Haw Creek Falls in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains

Waterfall Day Trip Itinerary from Clarksville, AR

Head north into the Ozarks from Clarksville, Arkansas to go exploring four waterfall trails in a day-long loop before heading back to Clarksville. This is a great day adventure to get you out of the busy of city-life and away from the traffic headed across Arkansas on I-40. This is a very busy day with lots of driving, so plan to leave early!With a promise of waterplay, this a great adventure for your hiking family. Pack a bag of dry clothes, a towel, and a sense of adventure. This is rural, so make sure you have your maps, snacks, and supplies ready to go. 

  1. Grab a breakfast burrito at Hagarville Grocery 
  2. Enjoy the water at Haw Creek Falls 
  3. Boulder into Pam’s Grotto
  4. Cross the Historic Big Piney Creek Bridge; AR-123, Hagarville, AR
    This historic one-lane bridge makes a beautiful stop for pictures and looking out over the river. Once you’ve driven across, head back over and down toward the river. This is a prime kayak launch but also a great stop to allow some water play. The water is pretty calm, but it is flowing, so make sure you keep your eyes open! Remember! It looks deserted, but this is a functioning highway. Watch for oncoming traffic.
  5. Potty Break at Who DaThought It; Sand Gap, Arkansas
    You’re hot. You want a “real bathroom.” A cold drink or ice cream at Who DaThought It is a great addition to the day’s itinerary. Stop at this uniquely-named local gas station for snacks, a meal, supplies, and gas. Without any stores up in this part of the mountains, this tiny town place has a little of everything that you might need. 
  6. Explore Glory Hole Falls Trailhead
  7. Grab a piece of pie at Oark General Store
Watching Kayakers at the Historic Big Piney River Bridge
Watching Kayakers at the Historic Big Piney River Bridge

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Bobbie 2022 at garden

Reclaiming Wonders // Bobbie

With years of planning family road trips, Bobbie is an expert at incorporating amazing activities into her family travel plan which she shares on the blog, on Instagram, and through content creation for destinations and products. As a homeschool mom of four kids in Georgia, she strives to create a learning life full of adventures around the dinner table or throughout the United States. Learn Bobbie’s story to be encouraged to leave the busy life and reclaim the wonders of life.

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