Monday, January 6, 2020

Tanyard Creek Waterfall Trail

tanyard creek waterfall bella vista

The Tanyard Creek Waterfall is a hidden gem in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas located in the resort town of Bella Vista. The waterfall is just below Lake Windsor about a couple miles west of the Bella Vista town-center on HWY 340 (Lancashire Blvd). The Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is only a 2.2 mile hiking trek, but it offers everything that outdoor enthusiasts love:
  • Hiking 
  • Nature
  • Beautiful Waterfall and Creek
  • Caves
  • Swinging Bridge
  • Lake Views 
 You will want to bring water shoes on warm days to really enjoy the hiking trail and waterfall. However, this is still a fun hike anytime during the year.


Tanyard Creek Nature Trail

The Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is a 2.2 mile loop trek that takes hikers through the scenic wonderland that is the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. The well-marked trail begins at the parking lot. Figuring out where you are supposed to go at the beginning is a bit confusing. However, just study the large map at the trail head and you won't get lost.

The dirt/rock path is narrow, but the hike is fairly easy with a few occasional modest inclines. The area near the waterfall is very popular, especially during the summer. Therefore, that section of the trail can get crowded near the observation deck.

In addition to the waterfall, my favorite thing about the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is the fact that volunteers have taken the time to identify species of trees and plants (that are unique to the Ozarks) with nice signs along the way. Therefore, you can learn a lot about nature on this hike.

swinging bridge tanyard creek trail

The most unexpected thing that I came across hiking the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail was this swinging bridge. Heads up: The swinging bridge is much steeper than it looks in this picture! I once tried to walk across the bridge in the morning after a heavy frost. The frost made it as slick as ice lol. I would imagine that it's slick when wet too. Just be safe. 

Anyway, once you cross the suspension bridge, the trail takes you alongside several large bluffs. I imagine that Native Americans would have camped under these bluffs because they would have provided good shelter and easy access to water below. You can still see smoke soot on the rock overhangs above the trail. 

This section of the trail continues to follow Tanyard Creek and takes you by the foundation of an old school house. 

Tanyard Creek Waterfall

tanyard creek waterfall observation deck

Tanyard Creek Waterfall is the main attraction on this hiking trek. I would say that it's about a mile hike from the parking lot. There is a small observation deck just below and to the side of the waterfall. The observation deck offers you some great views and photo opportunities. However, if you want to get a closer look (and play in the water), you can easily climb around the rocks by the observation deck. Just be careful climbing on the wet rocks because they are slick.

Tanyard Creek Waterfall is really a huge drop followed by a series of smaller drops and cascades. The creek pools in the deep rocks, which makes wading in the water fun. Just below the waterfall is a really nice swimming hole.

tanyard creek

In addition to the waterfall, Tanyard Creek features lots of cool (literal and figurative) places to play in the water. You will notice lots of little walking paths that lead off the main hiking trail. Those are fun areas to explore. There are also some benches that make nice places to rest your feet from hiking. 

Lake Windsor

Tanyard Creek is impounded just above the waterfall to form Lake Windsor. Lake Windsor is one of several man-made recreational lakes in Bella Vista. It is especially popular for boating. If you are interested in checking out some lake views, as well as doing some more hiking, you can take one of the walking paths up the steep hill that forms the dam. Technically, you must be a Bella Vista POA member to "enjoy" the lake. However, as long as you stay on the bank above the lake, you are allowed to look and take all the pictures you want. (At least I have never gotten in trouble for looking before). 

lake windsor bella vista

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