Hiking Hot Springs National Park: The Goat Rock Trail

When we started developing our list of hiking trails in Hot Springs National Park, the Goat Rock Trail continued to pop up on guide books and blog posts from our fellow national park friends. The Goat Rock Trail is among the most popular in the park and one of our favorites of the hikes we did during our Midwest National Park Road Trip.

What we loved most about the Goat Rock Trail: the views. From several points on the trail you’re able to look out over much of the Hot Springs area. After climbing to the overlook at the top of Goat Rock you’re able to look out at Indian Mountain, directly across Gulpha Gorge from Hot Springs. Some of the best views we had in Arkansas!

We’re looking forward to sharing our re-cap of the trail today (and hope you’ll add this quick out-and-back hike to your next trip to Hot Springs!)

Planning to Hike the Goat Rock Trail

About the Trail

The Goat Rock Trail is a one-way, out-and-back trail in the central part of Hot Springs National Park. Although the trail is typically reached via the North Mountain Loop, it connects to many of the other trails in the park. We connected to the Goat Rock Trail from the Gulpha Gorge Trail and the Gulpha Gorge Campground during our hike which extended the distance some but made for a full morning of hiking.

Trail Distance: (1.1 miles one way, about 2.4 miles round trip)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. There’s some stair climbing at the end of the trail to the Goat Rock Overlook that some hikers may find strenuous.

Find The Trailhead: The trailhead for the Goat Rock Trail can be found from the overlook on North Mountain Road. If camping in the campground can be reached via the Gulpha Gorge Trail.

What You’ll See: The first part of the trail departs from the parking area below the North Mountain Overlook.  The trailhead is not marked clearly here, but it’s the only outgoing trail from the overlook.

The first section of the trail is flat and opens to a large sweeping views of east Hot Springs.  It then drops lower to more rocky and uneven trail.  Finally, you’ll start to see larger and larger boulders, made from the novaculite rock famous in Hot Springs.  The largest boulder is Goat Rock, which stands about 240 feet above the Gorge.  After another hundred feet or so, you’ll see a stone stairway of about 40 steps up to the Goat Rock Overlook.  

When to Hike Goat Rock Trail

When to Hike the Goat Rock Trail

The Goat Rock Trail remains open year-round, as do all of the trails in Hot Springs National Park. There’s no real ‘bad’ time of the year to hike the trails here, just times when you’ll find more people around. Given how popular Hot Springs National Park is (and that the hiking trails are generally busy), sometimes the trails can feel a bit crowded. Dogs are also allowed on this trail, although they need to be leashed.

The bulk of hikers are out midday, from 9 am to 3 pm, so we recommend traveling before or later in the day.

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