The island sits in the middle of Greers Ferry Lake in the Ozarks, about 80 miles north of Little Rock.
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A couple hiking Sugar Loaf Mountain in Greers Ferry Lake
Credit: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

When it comes to American hiking destinations Arkansas may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but for those looking to head a bit more off the beaten path, the Natural State holds a surprising gem with a whole lot of nature.

Sugar Loaf Mountain Island is an unexpected but unforgettable hiking destination. It's the only island hiking trail in all of Arkansas and in order to reach it, visitors must cross water.

The island sits in the middle of Greers Ferry Lake in the Ozarks, about 80 miles north of Little Rock. In order to access it, visitors can hop aboard the Sugar Loaf Shuttle from Fairfield Bay Marina.

For an extra adventure, paddle options are available via canoe or kayak. (It's about a 1.5-mile trek).

Aerial view of Sugar Loaf Mountain on Greers Ferry Lake
Credit: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

The mountain island stands about 1,000 feet tall and offers some of the most fantastic vistas in the area. To reach the top of the mountain, visitors can hike one of two trails; the shorter trail is about 1.6 miles round-trip, the longer clocks in at around 2.5 miles.

At the southern end of the mountain, hikers can climb wooden stairs for incredible views, perched about 500 feet above the surface of the lake.

Sugar Loaf is also one of the nation's first designated National Scenic Trails, according to tourism site Discover Arkansas. Early settlers named it after deciding the top of the mountain was reminiscent of loaves of unrefined sugar — hence the name Sugar Loaf.

While on the way up, hikers will be able to view the island's natural stone and bluff formations (which date back more than 300 million years). For nature aficionados, there is no shortage of opportunities to spot flora and fauna native to Arkansas.

Be sure to pack a camera to capture the incredible vistas seen from the top of the mountain. On a clear day hikers can see across the lake and onwards, there aren't very many views like it.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.