23 Family things to do in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Beautiful hikes, beaches, train museum and more! Just a short drive from Little Rock, AR.
Heber Springs Arkansas has become one of our favorite weekend destinations. It’s a short drive from Little Rock and has everything we were looking for in a weekend getaway.
With several hikes in the area, waterfalls, beaches, fishing, camping and fun places to take the family, it’s easy to see why we’ve fallen in love with this area.
Funny thing is, it’s taken us a while to find these hidden gems! Far longer than it should have. Some are tucked away and others are even hard to find on the internet.
Follow me on…
Since we’ve been exploring the area for several years now, I figured it was about time to share some of our favorite places to go while visiting Heber Springs, Arkansas.
We’ll included beaches in the area, hiking, things to see, camping and a few other places to make a great family day trip or camping weekend.
HEBER SPRINGS ARKANSAS
A little history
Greers Ferry Lake is the summer time main attraction in the Heber Springs Area. It is actually two lakes that are connected by a gorge called the narrows. The area of these two lakes totals 30,000-40,000 acres, depending of water levels, and offers 340 miles of shoreline.
But this area wasn’t always a lake. In fact it was part of the Little Red River. The area was prone to flooding and in 1959 they began construction on Greers Ferry Dam. It wasn’t a very popular decision for many who lived in the area and some even protested the dam altogether. The result of the dam would mean the flooding of several towns and relocating cemeteries.
However, with a dam would come flood control and a hydroelectric power plant.
Construction began in March 1959 and was completed in December 1962. Workers and businesses began building homes and constructing motels, shops and stores near the soon to be lake.
On October 3, 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Greers Ferry Lake and gave a speech at what is now John F. Kennedy Memorial Overlook. He spoke about pride and satisfaction in this great country and how this dam was an investment in Arkansas and in the United States. He dedicated this project to the service of the people of Arkansas.
This was his last major public appearance before he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
The new lake brought many to the area along with recreation. During the summer months the lake becomes a lively weekend destination with pontoon boats with waterslides, fishing boats tucked along the quiet shores and beach parks filled with families enjoying picnics and swimming.
It’s easy to see why Heber Springs, Arkansas, becomes almost everyones favorite weekend destination.
Things to do in the area
Along this article you find different hiking trails, swim beaches, shopping, train museum, where to see the Trumpeter Swans and so much more! So be sure to browse all the way to the end.
You’ll find several hiking trails in the area with most of them being kid friendly. Since the Arkansas heat drives us to water activities most of the summer, it’s a nice change of pace when the weather finally cools down and we can explore some of our favorite hikes.
Bridal Veil Falls- Bridal Veil Falls is a short walk down to the observation deck with many little off shoots where people have made their own walking paths. The best time to see the waterfall is after a good rainstorm or during the spring months.
Located on- Bridal Veil Falls Rd. Heber Springs, AR.
For more information about visiting Bridal Veil Falls you can read our in detail article -Bridal Veil Falls Trail-
Sugarloaf Mountain- Did you know there are two Sugarloaf Mountains in the Greers Ferry Lake area?
Sugar Loaf Mountain Nature Trail is located on an island in Hidgen, Arkansas. Like the one in Heber Springs, it also offers hiking trails. However, it’s not as easily accessible and you’ll need to take a boat or ferry over to the dock to access these trails.
Sugarloaf Mountain trails are located behind the Arkansas State University Beebe Heber Springs Campus.
Here you’ll find several trails with different difficulty levels.
- Hidden Pond– 0.25 miles, paved, wheelchair accessible.
- Tonawanda- 1.3 miles, moderate
- Summit- 0.66 miles, difficult, steep and slippery.
Collins Creek- Just over the Greers Ferry Dam take your second right on Hatchery Rd. About a half mile down on the lefthand side you’ll find Collins Creek Trailhead. This easy to moderate trail is approximately 0.6 miles and offers a gorgeous cascading waterfall. It is a short waterfall but beautiful nonetheless.
The creek eventually finds its way to the Little Red River where the trail will disappear into the water. -View Map Here-
Josh Memorial Park Trail- Located just before the road to Dam Site Marina, you’ll find Josh Memorial Park Trail. This trail is a mile loop but can be adjusted to little feet by taking the B, C or D shortcuts. -View Map Here-
Mossy Bluff Trail- 1.6 miles roundtrip. Behind the William Carl Garner Visitor Center, you’ll find two trails. The Mossy Bluff Trail is 1.6 miles round trip and brings you to the Mossy Bluff Overlook where you can view the dam and river below.
For those not wanting to walk this trail, you can drive about a half mile past the Buckeye Trail where you’ll find a parking area and a staircase that lead to the Mossy Bluff Overlook observation deck.
Buckeye Trail- The Buckeye Trail is also located behind the visitors center and is more of a casual stroll than a hike. Being only 660 feet of paved path, this little walk is perfect for tiny feet and senior puppies (like our own). -View Mossy Bluff and Buckeye Trail Map-
No Lifeguards- Swim at own risk.
Dam Site- One of the most popular swim beaches will be at Dam Site. Although the sand and beach area is a tad on the small side, this recreation area offers bathrooms, picnic tables, a playground and boat rental.
What’s really fun around this beach area is the fact that depending on the water levels you might just be able to walk over to the peninsula and enjoy sunbathing on the rocks. – Fee per vehicle
Sandy Beach- Sandy Beach is located more in town and offers a swim beach, volleyball court and pavilion available to rent.
Old Highway 25 Beach Park- Old Highway 25 has turned into one of my favorite beach areas. However, if we’re going to get technical it’s actually located in Tumbling Shoals. Just over the dam and a few more miles, you’ll find this sandy beach area.
Restrooms are available but there is no picnic area or playground. It tends to be a bit more quiet and is a great place to practice your sandcastle skills.
THINGS TO SEE
Ruland Toy Train Museum
Ruland Toy Train Museum is a hidden gem for those young and old. Located just off of Heber Springs Main Street, you’ll find this toy train museum packed with history. The owner, Wayne Ruland, is a wonderful storyteller and will inspire you to look at things a bit differently and see what you can create.
View the Trumpeter Swans
Did you know that there are Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs? In 1991 a storm blew two Trumpeter Swans off their normal migration pattern and they landed in Magness Lake in Heber Springs. The following year more swans arrived and as of today you can find over 100 swans who call this area home for the winter between November and February.
Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery
The Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery is located just over the Greers Ferry Dam on Hatchery Rd. This fun little spot is a quick trip but one we enjoyed more than I thought we would. Inside the building is a small exhibit area, but the main attraction is inside a fence that is protected with bird netting.
Here you’ll find Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout and more, along the 9 different holding areas. The kids would power walk to each area and loved watching the fish adjust their swimming patters based off of the shadows they created.
Like many actives in the area that do not include water, this one is more enjoyable with cooler weather.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Overlook
On October 3, 1963 John F. Kennedy dedicated this dam to the service of the people of Arkansas. On November 22, 1963 is was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. This memorial and over look is dedicated to him.
The John F. Kennedy Memorial Overlook gives a birds eye view of the Little Red River Below and a place for a quiet moment.
Mossy Bluff Disc Golf Course
Whether you’re a pro at disc golf or just looking for a fun afternoon activity, you should check out Mossy Bluff Disc Golf Course. This moderately hilly and wooded golf course is located behind the William Carl Garner Visitor Center. It offers 18 hole/baskets and is described as fairy technical.
Downtown Heber Springs- Downtown Heber Springs has a small town charming feel with a main street to match. Along the main street you’ll find antique stores, boutiques, art galleries and the Jitterbug Coffeehouse.
Gem Theater- The Gem Theater in downtown Heber Springs first opened in 1939. Sadly, it later burned to the ground in 1941. It went through some struggles and changes throughout the years but was later restored to look very similar to when it first opened.
This small theater may not have the same amenities as large theater chains, but with it’s famous neon sign over the featured movie listings and vintage feel, make this a great place to catch an evening show.
Ozark Country Market- The Ozark Country Market is located at 999 Heber Springs Rd. just across from Red River Dodge, before making your way down the hill into town.
This fun stop has local produce and Amish made goods, along with many other delicious treats. Be sure to stop outside and checkout their seasonal flowers and gardens.
Tumbling Shoals Flea Market- Again, we could get technical that the Tumbling Shoals Flea Market is not in Heber Springs, but I would be doing you a disservice by not mentioning it.
This flea market may look small on the outside, but once you step inside you see just how shabby chic and huge this place really is! The different booths wrap around far back into the store and you can find anything from stylish clothes to home decor.
Whether you’re camping or glamping, Heber Springs has campgrounds all over. Some offer campsites right on the water that gives you the feeling of your own private beach. Others are located on the Little Red River making it a fishermen’s paradise.
Many are open for three seasons only but you will find a couple that are open year round.
- Old Highway 25- Tumbling Shoals- Sites available on the water. Nicely spread out. Playground and more.
- Dam Site- Wooded campsites. Swim area. Beach, playground and boat rental a short drive away, plus more.
- John F. Kennedy Park- Wooded sites and some available along the Little Red River. Great for fishing, playground, Collens Creek Trail nearby.
- Heber Springs Park- Wooded and water sites available. Beach area, playground, boat rental and more.
- Lindsey’s Resort- Cabins and camping area. Located on the Little Red River. Restaurant with hook and cook option! Boat rental and more.
- The Woodlands RV Resort- Short and long term stays available. Full hookups, WiFi and more.
ON THE WATER
Fishing, kayaking, paddle board, boat rentals and scuba diving! *Note- This lake gets a lot of boat traffic. For kayakers/canoes/paddle boards and other, take caution and know your limits.
Scuba Diving- If you are an experienced scuba diver then you’ll love exploring Greers Ferry Lake. Head over to the Arkansas Diving website to learn more about diving in the Arkansas waters.
There are several places to rent boats, kayaks and others. Be sure to do your own research on the different business in the area and what is required to reserve a rental. As always exercise caution and be safe and aware of your surroundings.
Marina Boat Rentals-
Lindsey’s Resort- Boat Rental along the Little Red River
Sulfer Creek Outfitters- Kayak rentals, canoe rentals, paddle board rentals and more.
As you can see there are many fun family activities to enjoy in Heber Springs, Arkansas, and the surrounding area. These are just a few of them. So get out and explore! If you happen to have a favorite place you like to visit in the Heber Springs area, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.
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Swimming and other recreation activities can be dangerous. Always be prepared and understand your limits and skill level. The content on this website is for entertainment and informational purposes only. The information is to give a better understanding of what to expect although these are my personal experiences and yours may be different. This website, and person writing this post, is not responsible for any accidents, inconvenience, injuries, rescues, or loss of life by anyone who attempts these activities.