Trails, History And Hot Springs
Trail Runner|September/October 2018

SURROUNDED BY A NATIONAL PARK, HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS, OFFERS A UNIQUE TRAIL ENCLAVE

Jamie Siebrase

The allure of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is not just the hot springs. It’s that wherever you are, there’s a trail nearby. I was able to hop onto the Sunset Trail via a footpath right from my hotel, The Waters. Sunset Trail is a C-shaped trail above downtown and is a classic representation of the network you’ll find in this hidden trail-running gem. Hot Springs National Park—the U.S. National Park Service’s second-smallest tract—wraps the city of Hot Springs like a donut.

Never mind that the park only measures 8.5 square miles. There’s plenty of space for runners on 26 miles of interconnected, mixed-terrain trails, which are packed like intestines inside the five mountains safeguarding the town’s namesake: its springs.

In Hot Springs, It’s All About the Water

Long before outdoor recreation was an industry—back when Lincoln was in office—tourists came to Hot Springs to bathe in mineral waters naturally heated to 143 degrees. In the 19th century, the town’s geothermal springs were rumored to cure anything from pneumonia to war wounds, and out-of-towners originally needed a doctor’s prescription to soak up those purported health benefits.

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