5 Best Hikes in Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park Overview

The 2nd smallest national park by area, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is not the hiker’s dream with only 26 miles of hiking trails. Tree-covered mountains, natural hot springs, and a historic downtown still make this a beautiful place to visit if in the area. Most hikes in Hot Springs are less than 2 miles; the only one of any real distance is Sunset Trail (listed below). But if you are wanting to get out and stretch your legs while visiting, I have compiled 5 of the best trails you should definitely check out!

StateArkansas
Nearest Metro AreaLittle Rock, AR
Area Size5,550 acres
EstablishedMarch 4, 1921
Hiking Trails26 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs Mountain Loop
View of Ouachita Mountains from Hot Springs Mountain Tower, Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas (Looking North)
View of Ouachita Mountains from Hot Springs Mountain Tower, Photo by Ken Lund

This mountain loop is a family friendly trail and one of the more scenic hikes in Hot Springs National Park. Be sure to stop at the Hot Springs Mountain Tower to gaze at the expansive views of the area. The trailhead is located at the pagoda shelter just south of Hot Springs Mountain Tower.

  • 1.7 mile loop
  • 200′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Sunset Trail
Sunset from Balanced Rock
Sunset from Balanced Rock, Photo by Steve Harbula

Sunset Trail is the largest hike that Hot Springs has to offer. Visitors have a few different options as the trail can be broken up into 3 sections or you can plan to use the shuttle service to complete the full loop. There are several overlooks (including the popular Balanced Rock) along the way as the trail passes the highest elevation in the entire park. The trailhead is located at the parking area on West Mountain Summit Drive.

  • 10.6 mile loop
  • 2200′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Grand Promenade
Grande Promenade, Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Grande Promenade, Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Photo by Ken Lund

The brick promenade is not your typical dirt trail but is still one that hikers of the Hot Springs National Park should check out. The ‘hike’ provides views of the historic downtown Hot Springs, the hot springs cascade, and tufa cliffs. The trailhead is located on Reserve Street next to the impressive Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center built in 1933.

  • 0.5 miles one-way
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy
Goat Rock Trail
Sunrise from Goat Rock
Sunrise from Goat Rock, Photo by Steve Harbula

Mostly a gentle descent, this route winds hikers towards the Goat Rock overlook. Stone steps will lead you to the overlook with its views of open meadows and Indian Mountain. The trailhead is located next to a parking area off of North Mountain Drive.

  • 1.1 mile koop
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy
West Mountain Trail 
Blossoms in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Blossoms in Hot Springs National Park, Photo by Ken Lund

Looping around West Mountain Summit Drive, this is a great short but steep hike that will give you a workout. The trailhead is located next to a parking area on West Mountain Summit Drive before you get to the loop for Sunset Trail.

  • 1.2 mile loop
  • 300′ elevation gain
  • Easy

Featured Image: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Photo by Ken Lund

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