When November weather nears 70 degrees you have no excuse to stay inside, not even with a belly full of turkey, dressing, and cranberry relish. And if the weather is that nice the day before Thanksgiving, you definitely need to get outdoors for a hike to earn the next day’s dinner.
Thanksgiving took us to my in-laws in Bella Vista, Ark., so when the afternoon before Thanksgiving turned more than pleasant I told my two youngest daughters we’d better take advantage of it. We decided to hit a couple nearby trails for some easy hiking and a bit of geocaching, both of which are plentiful in Northwest Arkansas.
We found several geocaches. We also found waterfalls, caves, old homesites, and much more. We barely scratched the surface in the number of geocaches and trails to visit and will explore more next time we visit, just as we did when our daughters were toddlers when we lived in nearby Gravette, Ark., and Rogers, Ark., where the youngest was born.
The first Saturday in November, temperatures near 70 degrees and a wearisome presidential election nearing its end meant it was time to enjoy autumn before the weather and Election Day turned worse. With that in mind we stopped at the courthouse, cast our ballots early and headed out of town to Crowder State Park about 50 miles east of here.
Even with the constant crunch of leaves underfoot there was still plenty of fall colors. With more than 15 miles of hiking trails to choose from, we parked at Crowder Lake, walked across the dam and headed off on Tall Oaks Trail. The three-mile trail takes hikers along the lake through the old woods up a ridge through an old field and back down to the trailhead along river bottoms.
We had hiked another trail, River Forks, a few years earlier. Our plan — as soon as we get a few days free — is to set up the tent at the campsite and explore the eight-and-a-half mile Thompson River Trail, get in some fishing and relax in between. The 1,912-acre park includes basic, family and electric camping, an equestrian trail, canoe rentals, Red Bud Trail for those wishing a shorter hike and a quiet setting near Trenton, Mo.