Many people think of farmland when they think of Arkansas. But there are mountains in Arkansas that are quite beautiful as well as forests and grasslands. There are two separate ranges of mountains in Arkansas: the Ozark Mountains and the Ouachitas Mountains. All of the mountains in Arkansas are in the western part of the state. The Ozark Mountains are known for their unique geological makeup which makes them more like a series of tables or plateaus rather than traditional mountains. They also have large systems of caves and caverns. The Ouachitas Mountains are more traditional mountains in shape and size. But they are known for the stunning lakes that the mountains contain. There are also some smaller sub-ranges like the Boston Mountains.
10 Stunning Mountains In Arkansas
Located in: Mount Magazine State Park
Height: 2,753 feet
Nearby City: Paris
Known For: Mount Magazine is the tallest mountain in Arkansas. Because it’s the tallest mountain in the state and it’s such a popular destination you may find some crowds there during the summer months. In addition to hiking to the summit of Mount Magazine you can camp in Mount Magazine State Park and enjoy some fantastic hiking, biking, hunting, and in the winter some great skiing. If camping isn’t your thing there is also a lodge nearby that offers more comfortable surroundings.
There are actually two peaks on Mount Magazine. You can hike to both Signal Hill and Mossback Ridge to get views of the surrounding areas from both peaks. To reach the top of the mountain you can take the Signal Hill Trail from the parking area at the bottom of the mountain. Or you can pick up the Signal Hill Trail from one of the side trails that lead through the Mount Magazine State Park.
Petit Jean Mountain
Located in: Petit Jean State Park
Height: 1,204 feet
Nearby City: Morrilton
Known For: Petit Jean Mountain isn’t the tallest mountain in Arkansas but it would be difficult to find a mountain with more history. This unique mountain sits just inside what is now Petit Jean State Park. But in the past the land near Petit Jean Mountain was the pass that settles took as they moved West.
It also was a pass taken by Cherokees as they were forced along the Trail of Tears. Petit Jean State Park is a certified Trail of Tear National Historic Site. From Stout’s Point, one of the outlooks on Petit Jean Mountain, you can look down over the pass and reflect on the many different people who passed through that area.
Hikers can easily accomplish the Petit Jean Mountain summit trail in a day. So if you want a quick day hike Petit Jean Mountain is a fun one to do. But you can also camp at the Petit Jean State Park and enjoy picnic facilities, swimming, biking, and lots of fantastic hiking trails where you can explore the park.
Potato Hill Mountain
Located in: Ouachita National Forest
Height: 2,221 feet
Nearby City: Blue Mountain
Known For: Potato Hill Mountain is located not far from Petit Jean Mountain but this mountain is a little off the beaten track. If you want to experience the same stunning forests and gorgeous country as Petit Jean Mountain but you’d rather do it without crowds this is a great hiking option. You can reach the Potato Hill summit using any of several different trails that are well marked and will get you to the top relatively easily. But you won’t have to worry about running into a lot of other people. This mountain isn’t the tourist destination that mountains in Arkansas like Mount Magazine or Petit Jean Mountain are.
Located in: Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area
Height: 2,618 feet
Nearby City: Russellville
Known For: Blue Mountain is another hiking experience for hikers that want to get away from it all and enjoy the truly unique beauty of the Arkansas landscape by themselves. When you make it to the top of Blue Mount and look out over the forested valley below you will hear the wind and the rustling of the leaves and not much else. Even though the mountain isn’t far at all from a city with all the comforts that a city can offer once you start the hike up Blue Mountain you’re surrounded by nothing but nature.
There are trails that at are appropriate for all hikers that head to the top of Blue Mountain. For experienced hikers there is the 11 mile Cove Lake Trail that leads to the mountain and up it from the surrounding forest. You can camp overnight if you want to break the trail up into a two day hike to the summit. Just be aware that because of the location you will likely be on your own when you’re camping at Blue Mountain. Bring all of the supplies that you’re going to need with you.
Located in: Boston Mountains
Height: 2,414 feet
Nearby City: Winslow
Known For: Shepherd Mountain is one of the group of mountains that are part of the Boston Mountain range in Arkansas. The other two are Whiting Mountain and Horn Mountain. These mountains are more of plateaus than traditional mountains. The summit of Shepherd Mountain is actually a flat field at the top of a large mass.
It’s an easy climb to the top and even families with kids can make the trek without any problem. From the top of Shepherd Mountain you can look down into the rivers below and see wildlife like elk and bison grazing in the grasslands next to the rivers. Because these trails have very little rapid elevation they are fantastic hikes for beginners or for younger kids if you want to hike as a family.
Turner Ward Knob
Located in: Boston Mountains
Height: 2,454 feet
Nearby City: Ponca
Known For: Another mountain in Arkansas that is within the Boston mountain range is Turner Ward Knob. Like Shepherd Mountain Turner Ward Knob is more of a tall plateau with a flat top. But it’s also one of the tallest mountains in Arkansas. That makes it a fantastic hike for people who don’t consider themselves to be experienced hikers who still want to get the best possible views of the stunning rivers and valleys from on top of a mountain. It’s highly recommended that hikers head to Turner Ward Knob and the other Boston Mountain peaks in Arkansas in the autumn. There is nothing like a hike through the cool crisp autumn air. And from the top of the mountain the view of the trees below dressed in their autumn color is truly spectacular.
Located in: Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Height: 1,011 feet
Nearby City: Little Rock
Known For: Pinnacle Mountain may not be a huge mountain but it’s still got great views from the summit. And the adjacent state park has lots of hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities also. Take the Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail from the bottom of the mountain and at the top you will see fantastic views of Lake Maumelle, the entire Arkansas River Valley, some of the nearby Ouachita Mountains, and even some of the city of West Little Rock. The views are definitely worth the climb.
The climb itself can be difficult even though there’s not a steep or sudden rise. The mountain and the summit are very rocky and jagged which can make it feel like a slog to get to the top. If you’re planning on hiking Pinnacle Mountain make sure you have great hiking boots on and that you have some extra socks. It doesn’t hurt to have some bandages in your pack either. All those rocks can do a number on your feet.
Black Fork Mountain
Located in: Ouachita National Forest
Height: 2,400 feet
Nearby City: Mena
Known For: Black Fork Mountain is a favorite hiking destination for serious hikers. It’s not a good hike for beginners. But there are some easy trails in the Ouachita National Forest that the mountain is located in that are appropriate for beginners. If you are an experienced hiker and you want to get to the summit of Black Fork Mountain you will need to start on the Ouachita Trail at the bottom of the mountain. That trail will interact with the Black Fork Mountain Trail. Once you go across the Ouachita River you’re on the Black Fork Mountain Trail.
Be careful as you climb the mountain. There is a trail that juts off from the main trail to the summit and if you take that you’ll end up at a false summit. Stay on the Black Fork Mountain Trail until you get to the top of the mountain. There are no markings, no observatory, not even a sign once you get to the summit. But you’ll know you’re at the summit when you are surrounded by short oak trees and you can see stunning views of the Ouachita National Forest below you.
Located in: Ouachita National Forest
Nearby City: Dardanelle
Known For: Mount Nebo is on the small side when it comes to mountains in Arkansas. But that doesn’t make the view from the top any less spectacular. When you get to the top of Mount Nebo you will look down over the gorgeous Arkansas River Valley and Lake Dardanelle, which is a 34,000 acre lake. Mount Nebo is a popular attraction for locals who like to picnic, hike, bike, and camp there. If you time your hike at the right time of the day you can also watch hang gliders take off from the summit and glide to the valley below.
If you want to camp at Mount Nebo make sure that you reserve a cabin early because they fill up fast, especially in the spring and summer. It’s one of the most popular family vacation spots in Arkansas. Back country camping is permitted in the Ouachita National Forest so back packing is an option also.
Located in: Little Red River
Height: 690 feet
Nearby City: Heber Springs
Known For: Ok, so Sugarloaf Mountain isn’t really a mountain. Anything under 1000 feet tall is considered a large hill. But it’s still a fantastic hiking spot that’s extremely popular. Sugarloaf Mountain was at one time larger than it is but erosion from the Little Red River has worn it down over the centuries. What’s left is a great natural area where hikers of all abilities can spend an afternoon or a day or even a few days enjoying nature. It’s also a family friendly hiking area perfect for a day hike with the kids.
You can choose from three primary trails that will take you to the summit. The Summit Trail, Tonowanda Base Trail, and Hidden Pond Trail are all appropriate for beginner hikers and children. There are plenty of rest areas along the way where you can take a break. And along the Tonowanda Base Trail and Hidden Pond Trail there are even benches placed at regular intervals in case you or your kids need to take a break while you’re hiking.
Summary of 10 Popular Mountains in Arkansas
|1||Mount Magazine||2,753 feet|
|2||Petit Jean Mountain||1,204 feet|
|3||Potato Hill Mountain||2,221 feet|
|4||Blue Mountain||2,618 feet|
|5||Shepherd Mountain||2,414 feet|
|6||Turner Ward Knob||2,454 feet|
|7||Pinnacle Mountain||1,011 feet|
|8||Black Fork Mountain||2,400 feet|
|9||Mount Nebo||1,350 feet|
|10||Sugarloaf Mountain||690 feet|
Highest Point In Arkansas
Mount Magazine-2,753 feet
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Stephan Hawks/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are the two mountain ranges in Arkansas?
There are two separate ranges of mountains in Arkansas: the Ozark Mountains and the Ouachitas Mountains.
Is Sugarloaf Mountain really a mountain?
Sugarloaf Mountain isn’t really a mountain. Anything under 1000 feet tall is considered a large hill. But it’s still a fantastic hiking spot that’s extremely popular.
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