Moonshiners Cave Trail is a must-do hike in Arkansas. Even though it is a short trail it is one of our favorites due to the fun bit of history that you will encounter at the end.
Always know your physical limitations and hike at your own risk!
Location of Moonshiners Cave Trail
Many people think that Moonshiners Cave Trail is part of the Devil’s Den State Park, but it is actually located just on the outskirts of the this wonderful state park near the town of Winslow, Arkansas.
In order to find the trail you will want to drive as if you are planning to enter Devil’s Den State Park via I-49.
Take the Winslow exit off of I-49 and head west towards the park on Devil’s Den Road. Go about 4 miles until you see the official state park sign.
Directly across the street from the sign is a parking area. Pull in and park there.
When you are standing in the parking lot with your back to the road you will see a power line trail on your left as well as a small trail through the woods in of you. Neither of those are the Moonshiners Cave Trail!
Instead turn to your right (west) and continue walking in the grass on the side of the road about 50-100 feet until you see an opening in the woods on your left. This is the trail you want to take!
The day we were there the trail was marked by thin white flags. Obviously these are not guaranteed to be there all the time. Even so, you can’t miss the turn. It is fairly wide, well trodden, and will resemble a dry creek bed.
About the Trail
This is an out and back trail and is fairly short. It is only .8 miles round trip. It is downhill on the way in so you know what that means – you will be heading up hill all the way back. In addition it is a very rocky trail.
In fact, the rockiness of the trail was more difficult than the elevation. You might want to consider wearing sturdy shoes and even bringing a walking stick or trekking poles.
Between the slope and the rocks this a considered to be a moderately challenging hike. You will want to watch your step, but it is such a short trail that we didn’t find it to be all that difficult.
Since it is not part of the park system the trail is not marked. However the path is not too overgrown and is not hard to follow. You will mostly walk alongside the stony creek bed and will tend to veer to the left.
In a short time you will come to a bit of a clearing and realize that you are standing on a bluff. The cave will be directly below you. You can go right or left around the bluff. We went to the right and it was a short downhill scramble to the cave and waterfall.
History of Moonshiners Cave
Arriving at the bottom of the trail you are going to see a magical and historical place. The “cave” is really more of a bluff shelter. In 1905 a lovely stone wall was built which enclosed the opening of the bluff.
A family used the cave as their root cellar to store vegetables and foods that they had canned. Their homestead was located up above the bluff.
As the years (and prohibition) came into existence legend says that the cave became a hideout for bootleggers transporting moonshine. I can’t find that any records with definitive proof that this was true.
But then…if it were true it would have been a secret, right? Most of these legends are steeped in some grain of truth.
I tend to believe the story but after you see the place you can make your own decision.
Vandalism at Moonshiners Cave Trail
We know that the bluff was enclosed in 1905 because the date and initials of the builder were once carved into a stone set into the wall.
Sadly, vandalism has taken its toll on this amazing spot. The plaque, so proudly placed by those who came before us, has been dug out from the wall and taken. You can see the spot where the stone once was right by the door in the photo below.
In addition, the interior of the cave has been marked with spray paint and carvings.
It is sad to see.
This might be a great place to take younger children to teach them at an early age the idea of leaving no trace.
It is important to know that the waterfalls here aren’t always falling. They are wet weather falls so in the heat of an Arkansas summer they will usually be dry.
However, the flowing water really does add to the ambiance of this hike. I highly suggest traveling the Moonshiners Cave Trail in the spring or after there has been a really good rainfall in order to see the cave with the falls.
We were there on a lovely spring day in April and the falls were lightly flowing and lovely.
Hope you enjoy hiking the Natural State!
Thanks so much for stopping by.