I was blessed to go hiking with my friend Henry yesterday. A couple of nights ago I was trying to find a place to hike. I remembered passing a trailhead about three miles North of Ponca, Arkansas on Highway 43. I looked it up on the internet, and I wound up on the Buffalo Outdoor Center website. Buffalo Outdoor Center is a business that rents canoes, rafts and cabins. It's located in Ponca. On a side note, my wife and I honeymooned in the "Presidents Cabin" at Buffalo Outdoor Center (BOC) a little over twelve years ago. Anyway, I found out that the trailhead was for a trail that lead to Big Bluff. My friend Henry and I headed out from Mystic Caverns turning left onto Arkansas Scenic Byway 7 North. We drove 1.5 miles and turned left onto Highway 206 West. We drove 7.1 miles until Highway 206 dead ended into Highway 43. We turned left onto Highway 43 and drove 2.1 miles and pulled off the road on the left side to take a picture of the view of Harrison, Arkansas from near the top of Gaither mountain.
After taking a few pictures, we were off again toward Ponca on Highway 43 South. We continued another 13.9 miles from the scenic overlook to the trailhead on the left. We were suprised to see that the parking area was almost full. I took a picture at the trailhead of the map to Big Bluff.
The trail map indicated about 3.5 miles to Big Bluff. On the same sign was the following safety information.
This trail is also used by horses, so there are some muddy places. We began down the trail at about 11:20am. The weather was near perfect.
Not too far down the trail, there was evidence from our January 2009 ice storm.
You need to watch out for hanging dead limbs left from the ice storm. After hiking for about three miles, we came to a small clearing where horses had been tied up. From there, the trail turned to the right. Soon we were beginning to see bluffs.
On around the corner...
Next we rounded a corner and met some nice folks on their way back to their horses.
When we arrived at this spot, these nice people were hiking up a trail to the right and a few feet lower, and one of the ladies was exclaiming how she wished she had known you could come around that way when they were on their way down instead of having to go through the hole. See the hole in the rock below.
I was amazed by the beauty and size of the bluffs as we continued down the trail. In the picture below, you can see the Buffalo National River to the right below.
The views from this bluff are awesome!
In the next picture, you can see the Buffalo River looking upstream.
We spent a good bit of time enjoying the views from on the bluff. Big Bluff is the tallest bluff on the Buffalo National River at about 500 feet tall. The picture below is looking down river. Notice how small Henry is in the picture.
The next picture is looking up river. Again, look for Henry. I will help you find Henry...look at the far end of the bluff about halfway up on the picture.
The next picture is of a bluff with a dead tree.
Next a picture of a Cedar root.
Henry and I ate lunch in a bluff shelter cave. Below are pictures looking in both directions from inside the bluff shelter.
While we were eating we saw some Kiyaks below on the river.
We headed back after spending about a hour looking at the bluffs and taking pictures. On the way back up the bluffs, I saw a lizard.
The trip back was a little more strenuous as we climbed back up the seven hundred feet that we had lost in elevation coming down. By the time we got back to the truck, we were ready to sit down for a while.
I hope you have enjoyed the pictures of Big Bluff. This hike is about seven miles round trip and I would not recommend it for children. That being said, if you are in pretty good physical condition, the views are well worth the trip. If you are visiting our area, I hope you will visit us at Mystic Caverns to see two of Arkansas' most beautiful caverns.