A summer spent in the Natural State could probably always be referred to as the Arkansas Swimming Hole Tour, amirite?
My family resides in a part of Arkansas now that does not include a body of recreational water. To make things even crazier, we have been here for five years. I know, I can’t believe I have lived anywhere this long, let alone in a place that doesn’t have a lake or a recreational river.
I spent the first 18 years of my life in central Arkansas, on the very large, very clean, man-made body of water called Greers Ferry Lake. Not Greer’s Ferry. Also, not Heber Springs. Just to clarify for you.
When I left Greers Ferry, Arkansas at 18, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia. I lived right on the bay, on Willoughby Spit, and my back yard went from grass to sand and salt water. Two blocks across my street was ocean, and an endless horizon. From there, I lived in Sunny Southern California just minutes from the ocean. After California I moved to Tennessee and spent my free time on the Tennessee River or at Pickwick Lake, with my best friend on her little yellow boat. This is the first time in my life I haven’t lived close to recreational water!
Last summer, we did a bit of swimming hole touring, but we were also kind of just blah about not being on the lake. It is a 3 hour drive back to my parent’s house to spend the weekend and hang out on the water. But then I have to visit everyone or its rude so that doesn’t really leave a lot of lake time. There are other lakes closer, like Ouachita, or Tenkiller. But they’re just not as pretty or fun to me.
This year, my family has decided to make this the summer of swimming holes. Mainly because we love a good adventure! I’m going to do a post about each swimming hole we visit on the tour, so all my Arkansas friends can plan their own trips!
A couple of weekends ago, we loaded up the kids, our beach chairs, our beer, our snacks, and the dog, and took off on a mini road trip to Kings River Falls. We had never even heard of this swimming hole before so we weren’t sure what to expect as far as getting there. The drive is gorgeous, once you get off the interstate and hit the pig trail. I have always wanted to drive the pig trail since we moved to this area, especially when I had my little convertible fiat. Even in a non-convertible, it did not disappoint! Sophia kept saying that the drive was outside her comfort zone and she was going to buy the land and build a house there when she grows up!
We got to drive through the cutest, tiniest little town of St. Paul, and I kind of wanted to move there for a second, myself. Until the ride home when we wanted to eat at their little snack shack and they only took cash.
I will say, make sure you have your directions saved in your notes or you screenshot your map. Once you turn off the highway, you’re on dirt roads in the middle of N O W H E R E for a long, long time. Only 7ish miles but it felt like an eternity. Arkansas back roads, y’all.
As far as parking goes, when you finally cross the threshold over the end of the world and see your destination, you realize the parking situation is just a free-for-all because the trail head begins on what appears to be someone’s farm.
Yes. You heard me. T R A I L H E A D. You’re going to hike 1 mile (really only 8/10 of a mile according to my apple watch) before you get to your destination. Pack lightly, we didn’t. Hats off to my husband for carrying the bulk of our must-haves for the day.
The swimming hole itself is so gorgeous! It is like a little walk-out cave, the water is a little higher than waist deep in the middle. Water flows over the edge of the natural rock walls and there are ledges for kids to jump off of. I was nervous about the kids jumping, I admit. Sophia didn’t jump but Olivia did, and so did all the other children that were there. They all remembered to bend their legs when they went over, but I think Olivia decided it wasn’t worth the risk (phew!) because she only jumped a couple of times.
If you’re not a dog lover or a hipster lover, this is not the swimming hole for you. We took Drake, on his gentle leader, to be respectful of other hikers and swimmers. Not a problem though, there were probably 6 other dogs there, none of them leashed. All of them swimming and playing, chasing and sniffing. It was really super fun and my kids loved all the doggos! The hipsters were cool, with their metal water bottles and super neat nylon hammocks. There were quite a few people there when we arrived, but many of them left and I think it was because we brought kids (and so did two other people that arrived around the same time we did).
It was very clean, which is always expected but also always a pleasant surprise. We enjoyed our beer and snacks and played in the water with the kids and the dog. We cleaned our area up and hiked all our trash, water toys, sunscreen, and other extras back out. Yes, even the beach chairs. Kings River Falls is definitely worth the drive and the hike.
A word of warning: Once we got back onto the highway, my car started acting really weird. We had TWO flat tires, from the rough dirt roads you have to take to get there. Andy didn’t drive fast or crazy on them, and my tires weren’t bald or anything, so definitely be careful and make sure you have a spare. We had one spare, but not two. We also didn’t have any phone service for the entire duration of our trip, until we got the second flat. Miraculously, Andy’s phone grabbed one little bar of service and we were able to call a tow truck to bring us another tire.
Thanks for reading about our Arkansas Swimming Hole Tour 2018 family adventures! If you head out to Kings River Falls, make sure you let me know how you liked it! Leave it how you came, pick up your trash and if you see someone else’s lingering, dispose of that, too. Keep our Natural State beautiful!
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