Big Bluff at Buffalo National River
My Arkansas Hike On The Centerpoint Trail & Goat Trail To a Scenic Buffalo River Spot
I spent four days in northwest Arkansas to hike,
attend an Arkansas Razorbacks game,
see old and new friends and to get away for awhile. On my first full day,
I hiked to Big Bluff, a steep rocky face that
overlooks Buffalo National River and the mountains near Ponca, Arkansas.
I know ... I know ... I'm "Colorado Guy" and this page
is about an Arkansas hike, but c'mon, check it out anyway! ;)
In retrospect, I have mixed feelings about this trail.
I will simply lay out some of the advantages and disadvantages that come to mind:
Advantages: If you love wilderness, want to
enjoy an amazing view of the river and canyon, desire a rigorous day of exercising, or
are seeking autumn colors
during the fall season,
this trail is probably a good one. The trailhead is easy to get to as well.
Disadvantages: 1) The first 2 to 2.5 miles of the trail (the Centerpoint Trail) go through boring forest.
2) With the exception of the Centerpoint Trailhead and parking area, the trail was poorly marked and had little to no signage.
3) The spur trail to Big Bluff, known as the Goat Trail, travels along a
steep bluff that is probably not appropriate for young children or anyone
prone to carelessness. In a few spots, stepping off the ledge could
lead to serious injury or death.
Having said all of that, I had a great time in this beautiful
Arkansas wilderness area. Special thanks to Jamie
(@starwoodgal on Twitter)
for referring me to this trail.
Directions: I am assuming you are acquainted with the area or at least
have a decent road atlas. From Boxley, Arkansas (the junction of Highways 21 & 43 in Buffalo National River), travel north on Highway 43 to Ponca, Arkansas. Pass Ponca and travel up
a significant uphill. The trailhead is located on the right a few miles up ... you can't miss the parking lot and sign on the road.
||November 26, 2009 - I started the morning in Rogers and traveled
east through the hillsides and mountains of
northwest Arkansas. My first photo was taken in Boxley while pulled over on Highway 43 ...
a pretty countryside scene with a barn.
The Centerpoint Trailhead. One distinct feature of this trail is one travels down throughout much of the first half of the hike.
You will be regaining all your lost elevation on the way back!
||I was a few weeks late from viewing autumn colors. Sigh! I can only imagine how amazing this trail
would be during northwest Arkansas fall foliage season.
|Two photos of mountain ridges out yonder. Very beautiful!
Buffalo National River is a pristine river inside a canyon surrounded by hills
and small mountains. It meanders for approximately 90 miles throughout
beautiful wooded land in northwest and north central Arkansas.
I was told kayaking and float trips
are very popular in this area when the water is flowing harder, although
more intense whitewater rafting
is not an option. There is not enough vertical drop, I suppose.
|Goat Trail to Big Bluff
The Centerpoint Trail travels for approximately 2.5 to 3 miles before reaching the Goat Trail. (I don't know the exact distance thanks to the
poor signage at the trailhead and lack of information on the Internet and elsewhere.) Spotting the Goat Trail can be a challenge.
On the Centerpoint Trail, I reached a very faint "Y" that could be easily missed. On the day of my hike, two trees had
pink tassles hanging on them - that is your marker informing you you've reached the Goat Trail.
|It's a relatively short walk before I reached the point where the cliff is on the left.
|There are a few spots like this where one can stand under the bluff for shade.
And that small arch reminded me of Arches National Park! :)
|Big Bluff Overlook
And then I reached the overlook! Ahhh the views of the
from this spot ...
quite impressive and I mean that as a Coloradan!
This is the section of the Goat Trail that definitely requires caution:
TOP PHOTO: Shows the stark verticality of this bluff. The trail travels on the flat ledge in the middle.
SECOND PHOTO: A closer look at the trail. If this area was icy, I would not want to be here.
THIRD PHOTO: Gives perspective on how the bluff hovers over hikers.
Gravity is not your friend here: I'm envisioning the
small possibility that a hunk of rock from the bluff could crumble on you.
|So many amazing views!
I could imagine this would be a perfect spot for a painter with an easel or
perhaps someone with a good book who needs to get away
from civilization. :)
The trail ends at this particular spot. It looked like I could have scrambled along wooded terrain
for a short distance longer, but it didn't look safe or wise and I was ready to return home anyway.
|The final photo is a
self-portrait that I tweeted in real time on
my Twitter page.
Such a great day to be in the outdoors. I love Arkansas so much! :)
| Colorado Springs
| 2011 Bike Across USA
| Canon City
| Pinnacle Mountain, AR
| Central Mountains
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