Established in 1972, Buffalo National River is America’s first National River and about 135 miles long. It is among a handful of rivers in the lower forty-eight states that do not have dams interrupting their natural course. Visit Buffalo National River to enjoy the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, up close and personal. You can find great views, mysterious caves, sparkling waterfalls and beautiful hand-made items along the way.
Boxley Bridge is the centerpiece of the historic valley that comprises the headwaters of the Buffalo River. From here, hikers can take the Buffalo River Trail, which is parallel to the river. If you want a best kept secret drive, follow Cave Mountain Road just north of the bridge. On this gravel road you can drive up to the Bat Cave. Now closed due to a disease affecting bats, the cave provided saltpeter for gunpowder to the Confederate troops during the Civil War. Continue on to Hawksbill Crag (also known as Whitaker Point), a dramatic 150 feet high overlook. Park where it says “Wilderness Access.” Follow the mostly downhill trail for a mile and a half and use extreme caution while there. It is the most-photographed natural setting in Arkansas.
Sites worth seeing in the Boxley community include the beautiful Baptist Church, the Walnut Grove Cemetery, the former general store and post office, and the remnants of an old steam-powered sawmill. North of Boxley, Highway 21 meets Arkansas 43, follow 43 to Lost Valley and then to Ponca. The popular Lost Valley Trail offers caves, waterfalls, and looming bluffs; you can walk the dramatic two-mile roundtrip hike in Lost Valley. At Ponca, see the Ponca Elk Education Center, to learn about the elk and where to see them, as well as sights to see in the area, such as Ponca Wilderness, Roark Bluff, Big Bluff and Gray Rock. The gift shop offers books and items about the wildlife and scenery.
Among the many fabulous sites along the Buffalo River, a favorite can be found in the section between Ponca and Kyles Landing. Accessible by a 1.6-mile hike or by river floating, it is Hemmed-in-Hollow, a 209-foot seasonal waterfall, said to be the highest between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, in a dramatic curving rock face.
Hide Out Hollow
If you like this hollow, consider a side trip to another one, Hide Out Hollow, which is at the end of a little trail, providing access to a small waterfall and some fine views.
Take Route 74 to Jasper. This tiny city is the center of the Grand Canyon of Arkansas region. Follow the easy trail to Triple Falls, if you have a 4 x 4 or high clearance vehicle. Find something you didn’t know you needed at the aptly-named Emma’s Museum of Junk. Have a meal with world class views at the Cliff House Inn, or dine at one of the town’s cafes: Ozark Café, Low Gap Café, or Blue Mountain Café and Bakery. Take Route 7 to Pruitt Landing, a popular put-in location for river floating.
Back to Jasper, take 123 through Hasty and on through Western Grove; you get some great views of the rolling countryside along this route. Then follow 65 to St. Joe. Along the way stop to see Hurricane River Cave.