Happy Monday! I hope you all had an awesome weekend. We have been super busy trying to get everything in order for Olivia’s arrival in the next couple weeks. We have also been trying to spend as much quality time with James as we possibly can doing outdoors stuff because I know that might be a little more difficult once she makes her debut. James’ absolute favorite thing to do is to be outside playing in water and hiking so we have gone three different places in the last week and it has been awesome! Our hiking adventures with a toddler are always a little crazy but so much fun. If you want some tips for hiking with a toddler feel free to check out my post all about the do’s and don’ts of taking your little one out.
Hot Springs National Park
Our favorite place to go hiking is by far hot springs national park. It has incredible scenery and several hiking trails. On top of that it’s super close to town so if we ever needed something we are just a few minutes away.
We typically go to the Gulpha Gorge campground to start. They have a ton of camping spots plus picnic tables for day as well as bathrooms (which this pregnant momma is very grateful for!). There are a couple trails you can take that start from this camp ground. The main trail is Gulpha Gorge Trail and is fairly steep with some stairs. It intersects with several other longer trails but I was very not up to going that far straight up hill at 36 weeks pregnant.
James’ favorite part of the entire hike is the very beginning. To get to the trail head you have to cross a small stream. There are stepping stones that you can go across as well as a small concrete area where the water stays just a few inches deep. We brought James’ water shoes this time and let him run around in the water for a while. He had a blast!
After he played around we went ahead and hiked the trail for about a quarter of a mile out before we turned around and headed back. I honestly wanted to go further but I was already having a ton of contractions that day and decided against having a baby in the woods.
We followed up the hike with picnic. Little man decided that out of all the stuff I packed he only wanted to eat grapes and nothing else. #toddlerlife
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
The next “hike” we went on this week was at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. There is a playground plus a huge open space where groups could play sports. There are a ton of different trails that you can take that range in intensity and take you up the mountain. We opted to the Kingfisher trail which is the easiest trail. I honestly would consider it more of a nature walk than a hike. The trail is completely paved and takes around 30 minutes to complete and is around ½ mile.
We decided this one would be perfect to bring the stroller along with us and it came in handy towards then end. James was much more interested in stopping to play in the puddles from the recent rain than he was in actually walking. (Though he did flat out sprint about the first half of the loop).
This trail is very pretty and has tons of wildlife and some gorgeous huge cypress tree in the stream that goes through the park. James really wanted to chase the squirrels that are running all over the place. This is also a super dog friendly park for all of your furry friends you might bring. (My husband keeps begging to get a dog, but there is no way I’m getting one when we are about to have a new born on our hands!)
Mount Nebo State Park
The last hike we went on was at Mount Nebo State Park. This park is about 2 hours from our house but well worth the drive. About this time last year my husband and I took a trip to North West Arkansas to go camping and go to a friend’s wedding. The wedding was actually on top of Mount Nebo very close to where we were when we went hiking this week.
The road to get up to the park is incredibly steep and very curvy. If you are in a camper you must be under 24 ft just to make it up. Honestly the thought of pulling a camper up that road terrifies me.
Once you get to the top of the mountain there are a couple camping and picnic areas. There are also bathrooms and a pool that is open in the summertime. Bonus: there is a huge playground that James had a blast on. There is even an old school merry go round that we all three had a ton of fun on.
There are several hiking trails that range in distance. Be warned all the trails are quite steep and pretty rough so be prepared to not be going too fast. The average time for one trail is over two hours long but it’s only about a mile. We did a part of the trail but there was no way James or I could have made it that long.
We opted to go eat our picnic and head home shortly after that. All in all it was a super fun day and the park is gorgeous!
If you’re a new parent or new to hiking with your littles I seriously suggest going for it. It is so much fun and seeing their eyes light up when they make their own little discoveries is amazing!
Check out my post about raising kids who love nature here!