Big Bluff at Buffalo National River

My Arkansas Hike On The Centerpoint Trail & Goat Trail To a Scenic Buffalo River Spot

Buffalo National River, Arkansas

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.

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Arkansas Scenery 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.
Centerpoint Trailhead
Centerpoint Trail

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!

Centerpoint Trail 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.

Goat Trailhead
It's a relatively short walk before I reached the point where the cliff is on the left. Goat Trail Arkansas
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! :)

Goat Trail, AR
Big Bluff Overlook

And then I reached the overlook! Ahhh the views of the mountains 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.

Big Bluff

Goat Trail

Big Bluff Arkansas

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.

Buffalo National River, AR

Buffalo National River, AR

Buffalo National River, Arkansas Buffalo National River, AR

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! :)

Buffalo National River, AR

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