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Buffalo National River - Day Hike Trails

Cecil Cove Loop (B4)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 7 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Location: Take Hwy. 7 south out of Harrison and travel 17 miles. Turn right onto the Erbie road (Signs Posted) and travel 7 miles down the dirt road to the trail head. The dirt road is fairly rough 4 wheel drive recommended. The low water crossing past the Erbie Campground may not be passable due to high water.

Description: The Cecil Cove Trail begins near the historic Erbie Church, and begins a gentle descent down an old wagon road. The trail winds through the wooded valley following Cecil Creek creating a nice moderate hike for visitors. The trail crosses the Cecil Creek 5 times along this first section of trail, so the creek may not be passable during rainy season due to high water. The trail continues at a nice moderate pace for the first 2.0 miles. The Cecil Cove Trail then begins a steep ascent up the mountain, climbing more than 500 ft. The trail passes old home sites, historic cemeteries, and provides beautiful scenic views during leaf off. The upper section of the trail is known to be fairly muddy throughout much of the year, especially during rainy season. The trail travels approximately 3.0 miles and intersects with the Old Compton-Erbie road (The road is extremely rough, vehicle use is not recommended). The last section of the trail follows the Old Compton-Erbie road down the mountain approximately 2.0 miles, ending at the trailhead where you began.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Centerpoint to Buffalo River (B4)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous

Location: Take Highway 43 out of Harrison and travel approximately 22.5 miles to the Centerpoint Trailhead parking area located on the left side of Highway 43.

Description: The Centerpoint Trail begins in the heart of the Ponca Wilderness, gradually winding down an old wagon road descending nearly 1300 ft to the Buffalo River. During the descent down, the trail offers outstanding panoramic views of the Buffalo River and the rugged Ozark Mountains that surround it. The Centerpoint Trail is considered to be a strenuous hike. The trail is steep in areas especially on the hike out; visitors will need to plan to take the entire day to hike this trail due to the rough wilderness terrain. The trail intersects with many of the other trail systems in the Ponca Wilderness creating multiple spur trails for the more adventurous hiker. The spur trails connect the Centerpoint trail with the Chimney Rock Trail, Sneeds Creek Trail, Big Bluff Trail, Compton Loop Trail, and Hemmed-in Hollow Trail. The Big Bluff Trail section is narrow and dangerous; visitors should proceed with extreme caution when hiking this section of trail. The Centerpoint Trail also offers a less strenuous hike to the popular Hemmed-in Hollow Falls. Visitors will still need to allow an entire day to complete the hike to Hemmed-in Hollow Falls via the Centerpoint Trail.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Centerpoint to Hemmed-in Hollow (B4)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 5.4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous

Location: Take Highway 43 out of Harrison and travel approximately 22.5 miles to the Centerpoint Trailhead parking area located on the left side of Highway 43.

Description: The Centerpoint Trail begins in the heart of the Ponca Wilderness, gradually winding down an old wagon road descending nearly 1300 ft to the Buffalo River. During the descent down, the trail offers outstanding panoramic views of the Buffalo River and the rugged Ozark Mountains that surround it. The Centerpoint Trail is considered to be a strenuous hike. The trail is steep in areas especially on the hike out; visitors will need to plan to take the entire day to hike this trail due to the rough wilderness terrain. The trail intersects with many of the other trail systems in the Ponca Wilderness creating multiple spur trails for the more adventurous hiker. The spur trails connect the Centerpoint trail with the Chimney Rock Trail, Sneeds Creek Trail, Big Bluff Trail, Compton Loop Trail, and Hemmed-in Hollow Trail. The Big Bluff Trail section is narrow and dangerous; visitors should proceed with extreme caution when hiking this section of trail. The Centerpoint Trail also offers a less strenuous hike to the popular Hemmed-in Hollow Falls. Visitors will still need to allow an entire day to complete the hike to Hemmed-in Hollow Falls via the Centerpoint Trail.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Erbie Trails (B-4)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: There are a number of trails in this area which provide opportunities for a short stroll, a good day-long hike, or an overnight trip.
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Brochure: Available at address listed

Additional Trail Information: Guides are available at many area bookstores, sporting goods stores, and outdoor centers.

Location: These trails are located at the old community of Erbie. There are several ways to get to this area. The easiest is to travel west off Hwy. 7, approximately 5 miles north of Jasper, on the gravel Erbie campground access road; however, getting to the trails on the north side of the river will involve fording the Buffalo on a low-water concrete crossing. During high water periods, the north side can be accessed from the Dogpatch-Erbie road west off Hwy. 7, or the Compton-Erbie road east off Hwy. 43 (Newton County Road 19).

Description: The Erbie Trails provide excellent opportunities to visit historic farmsteads, quiet stream valleys, waterfalls, old farm fields, wooded mountainsides, and bluff-top vistas. There are several trails on the north side of the river which may be hiked individually or combined into a loop of approximately 7.5 miles. The Cecil Creek Trail travels upstream along Cecil Creek to another trail intersection near the foundation of an old church. The faint trail to the right, marked with blue blazes, travels for about a mile to a waterfall area known as Broadhollow Falls. The trail to the left, known as the Cecil Creek Bench Trail, climbs out of the creek valley and runs along a bench past an old cemetery and a couple of old home sites. These trails provide a wonderful hike of great variety. The trailhead is located adjacent to the old Erbie Church and provides picnic tables and toilets. The Cherry Grove Cemetery Loop, just across the river on the south side, skirts old fields and wooded bluffs along the river to the historic cemetery. Elk and deer frequent many of these old fields along the river in the early morning and evening hours. This trail begins at the Parker-Hickman Farm, the oldest existing farmstead on the Buffalo River.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Hide-Out-Hollow (B3)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Difficulty Comments: Gradual grade

Location: Take Highway 43 out of Harrison and travel approximately 18.5 miles to the Compton Community. Turn left on the dirt road across from the Compton Post Office and travel 3 miles. Follow the signs to the trailhead parking area.

Description: The Hideout Hollow Trail (HOH) begins at the Schermerhorn trailhead in the Compton area. The trail was once in inhabited by a group of draft dodgers called The Slacker Gang during World War I. The Slacker Gang was made up of 9 young men from the Cecil Cove area that refused to join the army and decided to go into hiding in the dense wilderness area to avoid the draft. The 9 young men remained in hiding for months before surrendering to the draft in 1918. The trail was named in reference to this act once the National Park was established in 1972. The trail is a considered an easy hike with a moderate 400ft in elevation gain for the entire length of trail. The trail is situated along the rugged cliffs that cradle Cecil Creek Valley. The trail offers panoramic views of the Cecil Cove valley and surrounding mountains when standing atop the 75ft tall cliffs. The gem of the trail is a 50ft tall waterfall surround by a picturesque box canyon that is covered in colorful dog wood trees and azalea during spring months. During wet season, multiple small cascading falls are visible, before reaching the larger waterfall. The trail follows the park boundary closely on two sides; visitors should be aware of their surroundings and respect private property owners that join the park.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Indian Rock House Self-Guided Nature Trail (B-5)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 3.5 miles
Time: 3 - 5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate - Strenuous
Brochure: Available at address listed, or for a small fee at trailhead

Location: This trail is located at Buffalo Point, 14 miles south of Yellville on Hwy. 14, then three miles east on Hwy. 268

Description: The Indian Rockhouse Trail winds across hillsides and along a beautiful stream to the spectacular Indian Rockhouse Cave, which once sheltered prehistoric bluff-dwelling Native Americans (there are no "ruins" at the site). There is also a side trip to Bat Cave. The length of the round trip is three miles (five miles if you are also going to Bat Cave) and coming back is uphill. It can get quite tiring. Allow 3 - 4 hours for the trip to the Rockhouse Cave or 4 - 5 hours if you include Bat Cave. The trail begins across the road from the trailhead parking lot. Two trails angle off from the road. Take the right, or lower, trail. If you have hiked the trail in years past, you will notice that the routing has been reversed to take better advantage of the slopes and make the return trip easier.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Lost Valley Trail (B-3)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 2.1 miles round trip
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Brochure: Available at address listed, or for a small fee at trailhead

Location: 22 miles west of Harrison on Hwy. 43; take access road 1 mile south of Ponca

Description: This trail begins at the Lost Valley campground and terminates in a cave 1 1/2 miles up the valley. Features include waterfalls, a cascading creek, towering cliffs, a large bluff shelter, a natural bridge, spring wildflowers and a hardwood forest containing American beech. The cave itself is a tight squeeze for approximately 200 feet ending in a large room with a 35-foot-tall waterfall. Clark Creek, like most tributaries to the Buffalo River, tends to dry up or go underground during the late summer and early fall of most years. The available brochure is self-guiding. The first mile to Eden Falls is level and easy going. The trail then climbs steeply to the mouth of the cave. You will need reliable lights if you plan to explore the cave.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Mill Creek Loop (B4)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 1.4 Miles
Difficulty: Easy

Location: Take Highway 7 out of Harrison and travel approximately 15 miles to the Pruitt Access parking area located on the left side of Highway 7.

Description: The Mill Creek trail begins at the Pruitt launch, and winds along the banks of the creek creating a nice easy hike for all visitors. The trail leaves the parking area and passes through an old field that has been reverted back to a hardwood forest. These fields were once planted with corn, potatoes, and pumpkins. The farmer used the garden for his family and also would take the corn by mule drawn wagons to the gristmill that once stood upstream of where you stand. The trail continues along the creek until it emerges on the county gravel road. Turn right and cross the low water bridge then turn right again on the continuation of the trail. Continue on your hike till you reach a 1930s cabin that has a 1870s history. Once reached you will be standing on what was once the Shaddox homestead. Continuing on, the trail passes in front of the cabin. The trail will lead to a fork in the trail: take the left fork till you reach the cemetery spur. Turn left on the spur and follow it the short distance to the Shaddox Cemetery. There you will see headstones that date back to the 1860s. If you explore the cemetery please do so with respect. Sion and his wife Rebecca are buried here along with his parents and other family members. Be sure and lock the gate behind you as you leave the cemetery. Return to the main trail by way of the cemetery spur trail. Take the left fork to continue the hike. Stay on the trail until you pass by the cabin once again and you reach the county gravel road. Turn left onto the gravel road and after walking across the low water bridge turn left onto the main trail which will take you back to the trailhead and the 21st century.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Rush Mountain Trail (B-5)

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 1.9 miles
Time: 3 - 4 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Brochure: Available from the address listed, or for a small fee at trailhead

Location: Watch the video This trail is located in the old mining town of Rush, approximately 5 1/2 miles northwest of the Buffalo River Bridge on Hwy. 14. A well-marked side road turns north off Hwy. 14.

Description: The Rush Mountain Trail is a loop trail that visits a number of zinc ore mines dating from the 1880's. Many old structures and 'tailing' piles remain from the heyday of the mining era. Entry into the mines is prohibited and unsafe.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff

Whitaker Point Trail

Park/Rec Area: Buffalo National River
Region: Ozarks
Length: 1.5 miles
Time: Approximately 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Difficulty Comments: Easy-to-moderate hike

Location: Directions from Ponca: Take Ark. 43 south to Ark. 21; turn left. Go about two miles to the Boxley Bridge that crosses the Buffalo National River. Turn right onto an unmarked gravel road and go about 6 miles to the trailhead parking lot. About 1/4-mile from the trailhead, you'll pass the Cave Mountain Church & Cemetery on the right; turn onto Cave Mountain Road.

Description: Turn onto Cave Mountain Road at the north end of the Ark. 21 bridge – and set your odometer. A narrow, graveled route, it quickly climbs up the steep hillside and leads to one of the most photographed spots in the state. Parking is on the right at 6.1 miles at a sign marked “Wilderness Access.” The easy-to-moderate trail begins across the road and takes a mostly downhill course for about 1.5 miles before the distinctive bluff known as Whitaker Point comes into view. Pay close attention to children and acrophobia sufferers.

For Information: Park Superintendent, 402 North Walnut St., Ste. 136, Harrison, AR, 72601, (870) 741-5443 www.nps.gov/buff