Beaver Lake in Arkansas Ozarks
Newton County has some of the most splendid hiking trails you have ever been on. Hiking is a year round event here and in each season you will find many different things to see.
Spring offers an abundance of wildflowers, redbuds, sarvice, and dogwoods. The leaves are just popping out and with the spring rains, you have the advantage of viewing some spectacular waterfalls.
Summer is the least popular time to hike because of the heat and pesky critters but is also a beautiful time of year. The foliage is thick, wildflowers are everywhere, and there is always a good spot to jump in the cool water of the Buffalo and go swimming.
Now, fall? Fall is just wonderful. Cool days, clean air, the changing of the colors in the leaves. There is no way to describe it; you have to experience it.
Believe it or not, our winters, which are relatively mild, are great times for hiking. Without the leaves on the trees, you can see so much more — rock bluffs, deer, elk, squirrels — you can see for miles from the tops of the mountains and explore under rock ledges and in the hollows.
Hiking is four seasons of fun for all ages. A few of the many hiking trails in the area are listed below, but for additional information, the Forest Service can supply you with detailed books and maps on all of them.
Lost Valley – 3.5 Mile Round Trip
You’ll love this hike, it begins at Lost Valley Campground just off Highway 43 between Boxley and Ponca. You’ll discover the “Siamese Beeches”, two trees that have grown together over the years; the “Jigsaw Blocks”, another natural bridge; then Cobb Cave which is a giant overhang you can walk back into. It was named thus because of the corncobs discovered there that were left by Indians many years ago. After that take a walk up to Eden Falls, which are absolutely beautiful. Then turn around and come back to the intersection, take a right and go to the cave. Be sure to take a good light with you. You’ll have to crawl a short way, but then it opens up into a large room with a 35 foot waterfall.
Hemmed-In-Hollow – Three Different Trails
Center Point Trailhead – 5.4 miles One way to the Falls
This trailhead is located 3.5 miles north of Ponca on Hwy 43 and actually follows an old road all the way to the Buffalo River. The 1300 foot drop to the River begins as a leisurely stroll down hill and gets steeper after the first mile. Along the way, you will pass other trails that lead to great spots like Chimney Rock and Granny Henderson’s Cabin. You will also pass the Goat Bluff Trail to Big Bluff but unless you are a very experienced hiker it is not recommended because it is extremely dangerous out on Bluff and warning signs are posted. Even though this is a spectacular sight, the trail is narrow and the edge drops straight down about three hundred feet to the river so folks are not encouraged to take this trail. After passing this intersection, you are approximately 2.5 miles from another intersection which will take you to the mouth of Hemmed-In Hollow and a view of the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians.
Compton Trailhead – 5.0 miles round trip
To reach the trail head, take County Road 19 of Hwy 43 at Compton, travel .8 miles then turn right at the sign and the trailhead is just up the road. Two trails begin here but the one on the left is the quickest and also the steepest way to get to the falls. It’s a quick trip down hill but the hike out will be a real test for the greatest of hikers. The other trail is longer and will take you past several special scenic spots along the way.
From the River
While floating the Buffalo, you’ll want to watch for the traditional spot that canoeists stop at to access the falls. It’s just a short hike and to view the tallest waterfall in mid America is truly a memorable experience.
Hideout Hollow Trail – 2.0 Miles Round trip
To reach the Schermerhorn Trailhead take County Road 19 off Hwy 43 at Compton. Do not turn off the dirt road to the Compton Trailhead but continue straight ahead for about two more miles. At approximately 3.5 miles from the highway at Compton turn left into the primitive parking lot and begin your hike.
This is a great little trail that takes you into a large bluff and waterfall area. Along the trail you will see some fantastic sights, thick stands of trees, and an apartment-sized rock that has broken off from the bluff with giant pines sprouting from it. You will pass through a cedar grove and start hearing water so that’s a sign that you are nearing the head of Hideout Hollow. Down below the trail you can work your way around to get a better view of the big falls and the bluffline you’ve been walking on. There is private property approximately 60 feet upstream so please respect their rights. To get back to the trail head just hike back the same way you came in.
Hawksbill Crag/Whittaker Point – 3.0 miles round trip
Hawksbill Crag is one of the most recognized spots in Arkansas because photos of it have been used in many publications about the state and the Ozark Mountains. It is an amazing rock outcrop that sticks out from a tall bluff located in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area.
To get to the trailhead, head south on Hwy 21 and turn right onto County Road 5, Cave Mountain Road, 1.2 miles past the junction of Hwy 21 & 43. The parking lot is on the right .6 of a mile past the Cave Mountain Church and cemetery. From the parking lot, the trail begins across the road, goes into the woods and drops down the hill to a small stream. After it crosses the stream again, you will notice that the trail runs along private property which is marked with blue and red blazes – do not cross over. There are many science spots along the way but the most spectacular is Hawksbill Crag itself, one of the most major scenic spots in Arkansas.
The Glory Hole – 1.9 miles round trip
In order to get to this neat little spot, take Hwy 16/21 east out of Fallsville for 5.7 miles. You will pass a red barn on the left that has a large white “E” on the side of it. Go 1/2 mile past the barn and just past a dirt road that leaves the highway to the left, pull over and park across the road from the house that is up on the hill on the left. The route to the Glory begins as a jeep road that heads downhill into the woods and to the left. About a 1/3 of a mile down the road, the road forks so, stay to the right and it will eventually cross the creek that makes the Glory Hole. Stay on the road as it heads downstream and as the roadbed gets full of pine saplings and starts downhill the trail will abruptly end and you know you are close. From this point head downhill to the left, through a small bluff area, and you will enter a wet glade area. Be very careful because the “Hole” is off to the left. Don’t fall in! To get down under the bluff, go to the right until you see a place near some large rocks where you can get down. This is a great spot with a beautiful waterfall, lots of big boulders and bluffs!
Round-Top Mountain – 3 Miles Round Trip
ROUNDTOP IS CLOSED DUE TO SLIDE
Come enjoy some of Newton County’s most spectacular vistas on this newest trail as it circles a well-known landmark. About three miles of trail passes towering bluffs, huge trees, including the largest stands of pawpaws in the area, and a very lush, diverse plant community. Enjoy spring’s brilliant carpet of wildflowers or fall’s fiery’ beauty. Roundtop was the tragic site of a 1948 crash of a military plane and the former bluff shelter home of the earliest native people, which adds some historical interest on this trail. Access is south of Jasper about three miles on Highway 7. Turn right at the hiking sign to enter the parking area. A signboard with a map will help you plan your hike.
Koen Interpretive Trail – .5 Miles
On this short walk, there are 34 different kinds of trees and other plants identified along the trail. The trail is wheelchair accessible and has benches scattered along the way so you can sit down, take a break, and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the forest. There are trail guides at the trailhead that explain all of the plants you will be seeing, so be sure to pick one up. Take Highway 7 north from Jasper, approximately three miles, turn left at the Erbie Campground road, then one half mile down the dirt road turn right. Two hundred yards down that road, take a left and you’ll be at the trailhead parking area.
Alum Cove – 1.1 Mile Trail
This trail leads to an impressive natural rock bridge, 13O feet long and 12 feet thick. You can walk around, over and under the bridge, explore some small caves, wade in a cool creek, and in the wet season, enjoy the splendor of waterfalls behind the bridge. Take Highway 7 south from Jasper, turn west on Highway 16 toward the town of Deer. At about one mile, turn right on Forest Road #1206, go three miles to a sign, turn right again and you’ll be at the beginning of the trail.
Mill Creek Trail – 1.5 Miles
Ponca Elk Education Center. holds its annual Color Fest. Parker-Hickman Homestead, Buffalo National River
Ponca Elk Education Center. holds its annual Color Fest. Parker-Hickman Homestead, Buffalo National River. We saw a lot of Elks the we visited here.
Take Highway 7 north from Jasper. Then just past the Pruitt bridge, take a right to get to this 1.5 mile historical hike. Follow this trail through the forest land and you’ll walk by remains of former homesteads, and a gristmill operated on Mill Creek prior to the Civil War. Follow this trail along the creek until you come to a road, turn right, cross a low water bridge, turn right again. You’ll then come to Shaddox Cabin pioneer homesite. The present house was constructed from logs salvaged from a pre-Civil War cabin. Follow the trail on down to Mill Creek and ford the creek on stepping stones unless there’s high water. If so, backtrack and cross the creek at the low water bridge.
Pedestal Rocks/Kings Bluff – Total 4.3 miles
Pedestal Rocks shares a trailhead with King’s Bluff. After hiking just a few hundred feet from the trailhead, there’s a crossroads. Pedestal Rocks Trail …
To reach the trail head for these two hikes, take Hwy 16 east, off Scenic 7 Byway at Pelsor, go about 6 miles and look for the sign for the trailhead on the right. From the parking lot, cross the rock bridge and the trail will fork. Straight ahead leads to Pedestal Rocks and if you want to go to Kings Bluff, turn right. Both of these trails are wonderful but do hug the edge of high bluffs for most of the way, so they are not recommended for small children or careless hikers.
Pedestal Rocks – 2.6 miles total
The trail runs around a small hill and down to a road intersection at the end of the Kings Bluff Loop. There you will take a left and go into the woods. At the next road turn right and head across the hillside. There are several waterfalls along the way and spectacular rock formations like “arch rock” which is big enough to drive a truck under. As you hike along the bluffline, there are beautiful views and a lot of neat things to see. The trail continues on past several pedestals and winds up at the main pedestal, which is an awesome site to see.
Kings Bluff Loop – 1.9 miles total
This trail twists and turns and finally at .9 miles comes to a creek, then swings to the left and comes out on the top of Kings Bluff. This is a wonderful spot and the view is remarkable. Also, the creek spills over the edge of the bluff, nearly 100 feet, creating one of the tallest waterfalls in this part of the Ozarks. This is a great spot for a picnic lunch and to stop to relax but please be careful and stay behind the hand rails.
As you continue your hike, the trail goes along the bluffline and the views just keep getting better. Be sure to bring your camera!
Sam’s Throne is named for Sam Davis, buffalo hunter and firebrand evangelist who in the 1800’s would climb to the top of the sandstone butte to preach his brimstone to the valley below. As for the legends of the area, from Old Sam to moonshine, may not be true, the one thing that is fact is the steep abundance of high-grade sandstone for rock climbing.
In addition to the “Throne”, this portion of the Ozark National Forest is home to several different climbing areas and has become “the place to come” for rock climbing enthusiasts.
From Jasper, take Hwy 74 east to Hwy 123. At Mt. Judea when the road turns to gravel, turn here – you are then about 4.3 miles from Sam’s Throne. Have a great time but be safe!
You’ll definitely want to get a map or book for the rest of these hikes because there is so much to see on the trails that you won’t want to miss a thing.
Jasper Ar. My husband and I love to visit this little town. The Ozark Café is a fun place to eat.