State highway 7 was re-designated as Scenic Byway 7 because of the beautiful scenery
to be found along most of its length. Just 1/4 mile north of Mountain Thyme Bed &Breakfast Inn,
you enter the Ouachita National Forest.
For the adventuresome, there are miles of gravel
or unimproved roads in the National Forest, many leading to areas of great scenic beauty not easily matched on paved roads. The Flatside Wilderness area includes Flatside Pinnacle, a 1550 high rock outcrop as well as views of the 1650 foot White Oak Mountain and the 1350 foot Forked Mountain.
Continuing north, Scenic 7 winds through the Ouachita Mountains to the Arkansas River Valley.
A few miles south of the river, you can turn west and travel a short way to
Mt Nebo, or to
Mt Magazine State Park, which boasts the
tallest point in Arkansas. Or you can turn back east and travel a few miles to
Petit Jean State Park, which is our favorite.
All of these are just over an hour's drive from Mountain Thyme B&B on some wonderful mountain roads.
We have the maps and brochures and will help you plan a beautiful scenic tour of the Ouachitas.
Petit Jean State Park
This beautiful state park extends along the ridge of the Ouachitas just south of the Arkansas River Valley. There are numerous "auto look outs", a few "short walks" and a hike or two available. One of the prettiest vistas is from the Petit Jean Grave Site where you park and walk 50 feet to see the Arkansas River on one side and lush green valleys on the other. There is Mather Lodge, with a nice little gift shop and a restaurant, Bear Cave, where there is a short walk through rock formations, and much more. Click here to link to the Petit Jean website. And do not forget to investigate the Legend of Petit Jean!
Pronounced "wash-i-taw", this is the largest lake in the state at over 48,000 acres
and is purportedly the cleanest lake in the United States. It has very
little construction on its shores which, no doubt, helps it maintain its
purity as well as makes for a much more "natural view" of the shoreline
from the water. Mostly what you see are forests, mountains and its over 100 islands. If you enjoy boating in a serene environment, this is the lake for you. It is also one of the
few fresh water lakes popular with scuba divers because of its clarity.
Lake Ouachita State Park
This great park is about 15 minutes from Mountain Thyme Bed and Breakfast Inn. It has hiking trails, a swimming beach, picnic grounds, campgrounds and cabins, as well as a nice marina where you can
rent a boat, canoe or kayak
for the day. It's a great place for a picnic and a swim, or from which to launch out for the day on a beautiful lake!
Great scenery and hiking abound in the area. There are marked trails in each of the state
parks mentioned on this page.
And, just three miles south of Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast is the Ranger Information Center for
the Ouachita National Forest. Located there is the "Friendship Trail", an
easy 1 1/2 mile wheel chair accessible "hiking trail" over easy terrain.
And one mile north of Mountain Thyme B&B, just inside the forest, is the Iron Springs Recreation Area
and trail head for "Hunt's Loop", a 3.8 mile trail loop, the first part
of which is a switch back up the side of the mountain.
For the hard core hikers, Hunt's Loop also intersects
the "Ouachita Trail", which runs from Little Rock along the ridges
of the Ouachita Mountains into Oklahoma.
Garvan Woodland Gardens.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is ranked as one of the top five botanical gardens in America.
This is a beautiful 210 acre botanical garden located just southeast of Hot Springs, Arkansas on Lake Hamilton. You could spend all day walking the trails and seeing the huge variety of trees and plants, not to mention the streams, waterfalls, and pools. It just keeps getting more spectacular every year!
Their latest major addition is an extraordinary wedding chappel located on the grounds outside the botanical gardens. Be sure to see that!
Any season is the right season to see this place. But especially renown are the more than 100,000 daffodils from 327 varieties blooming in February, over 70,000 tulips blooming in March and the million plus lights, animated characters, and hand-made structures displayed from late November through the year end.
The Gardens host many unique special events throughout the year, so you have to get on their mailing list, or check back often, just to keep up.