They don’t call Scenic Byways “scenic” for no reason. From Hot Springs, the drive through Ouchita National Forest was spectacular. The road would wind around sharp turns or long swooping curves. We experienced some really steep inclines for miles at a time. Maybe it would’ve been more fun to drive in my old GTI, but my family-friendly Outback was still a smooth ride.
We booked a night at the Lodge atop Mount Magazine. As we approached the state park, we could already see sweeping views of the Petit Jean Valley below. There are signs everywhere, warning about the high cliff drops. I’m not usually scared of heights, but I kept a safe distance from the edge.
When you go to visit the highest point in a state, you are obligated to hike to that exact point. So we walked the moderate trail up Signal Hill to where they have the point marked. Along the way, we noted the tiny spring flowers that were blooming, interesting fungi growing on fallen logs and (ack!) tons of poison ivy.
So here’s where I get to brag on my planning skills. Staying at the Lodge was the best idea. Not only did we have hiking opportunities, but the rooms were spacious AND there’s an indoor pool AND the restaurant is tasty as well as affordable. To cool down from our afternoon hike, we got the kids in their swimwear to take a dip.
After we got cleaned up, we had dinner on-site, and those were probably our favorite meals of the trip. The menu had plenty of healthy side options (why is it so hard to find fresh veggies elsewhere in Arkansas?), which our kids devoured. Our last adventure of the day was blowing bubbles on the great lawn as the evening began to chill.
The next morning (after a very filling breakfast at the restaurant), we attempted a moderate hike along the mountain. My kids are getting better at hikes, but they need more elevation change to keep their attention than a moderate hike offered. They lasted about 90 minutes before begging to go back to the Lodge. Guess it was too quiet for them up there.
One last meal for lunch at the restaurant (I’m telling you; it was really good food and not that expensive!), a few silly jumping pics, an easy hike with the Big Kid, and then we bid farewell to Mount Magazine.
Next stop: Eureka Springs.