I love it when I’m hiking and see something really special that I was not expecting. That’s what happened for me when I first hiked the Indian Rockhouse Trial at the Buffalo Point campground (Buffalo National River).
I knew there were several points of interest along the trail including a waterfall, a closed mine entrance, a “Natural Bathtub,” and something called an “Indian Rockhouse.” But I did not realize until I got to it that the Indian Rockhouse was a huge overhang cave.
It’s spring again, and we’ve had some incredible weather to get out in and enjoy with some hiking and being outdoors in northwest Arkansas.
A few weeks ago, we headed out for a short hike along the Buffalo River Trail (BRT) from Ponca to Steel Creek (and back). This is a small section of the Ponca-Kyles Landing stretch of the BRT. The entire section is about 9.9 miles.
However, as a short day hike, we just went as far as Steel Creek and then came back. It’s almost exactly 2 miles to Steel Creek, making it a 4-mile round trip, which was perfect for us on a half-day hike.
To get to the trail, park at the Ponca low-water bridge and then walk out across the low-water bridge to the small parking area on the other side. Just past that parking area, the BRT heads off to the left and the right. The route to the right will take you to Boxley (11 miles). To go toward Steel Creek, take the route downstream to the left.
The trail starts off right along the Buffalo River and after a short stretch goes under the new highway bridge that crosses the river.
Right at the spot where you cross under the highway bridge there is a little trail that leads down to an overlook on the river — a very nice little view.
Back on the main trail, it continues along the river for a while.
Big Bluff in the Buffalo National River is thought to be the tallest bluff along the Buffalo River. I had seen the bluff from many different places, including from across the river on the Buffalo River Trail, and even from Grandma Stella’s Homestead. But I had never actually been to the bluff itself.
Last weekend we decided to hike to Big Bluff.
The hike to Big Bluff is actually part of a longer route from Center Point trailhead that leads all the way to Hemmed-in Hollow. It’s a 10-mile round trip hike to Hemmed-in Hollow from here.
There are shorter (but maybe tougher) routes to get to Hemmed-in Hollow, but the trail down to Big Bluff is worth the hike.
The Center Point trailhead is easy to reach. It is right off of Highway 43, about 3.5 miles north of Ponca. It is also about 3.5 miles south of Compton, just a few hundred yards south of the intersection of Highway 103.
The trail is very easy to follow. It is well traveled, and shared between hikers and horseback riders. (Except for one stretch, the trail is easy to hike for a shared horse trail as it isn’t as rutted from hoof prints as I would have expected. The fact that it has barely rained all year probably helped that.)