The former community of Erbie (north Newton County, Buffalo National River) offers a variety of hiking trails that can be combined for larger or shorter loops. Because it was a community, many of the trails feature historical sites that tell a story of early settlers to the area.
The 6.4-mile Cecil Cove Trail Loop, much of which follows Cecil Creek, is one of these. It provides a wonderful assortment of spring-fed ponds, streams, historic stone walls, a historic cemetery, former home sites, and a spur trail that leads to a couple of awesome waterfalls.
This is a full day of nature and historic sites that is well worth the trip. The trail is also shared by horses.
The elevation change on the hike is about 850 feet
If you’ve spent much time in the Buffalo River area, you’ve seen pictures of Hawksbill Crag (aka Whitaker Point). It is one of the most photographed spots in the area, and with good reason.
The hike to Hawksbill Crag is a short one, and it is relatively easy. Getting to the trailhead is a bit trickier.
Directions to Hawksbill Crag (Whitaker Point) Trail
The trail is in the part of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area (Newton County) that is in the Ozark National Forest.
To get to the trailhead from Ponca, take Highway 43 south from Ponca toward Boxley. When it merges with Highway 21, take the southern route and continue on to Boxley. Right before you cross the Buffalo River, there is a gravel road on the right called Cave Mountain Road. (It may not be marked.)
Back in late November, it was a particularly rainy weekend throughout most of Arkansas, and I was getting a dose of cabin fever and decided to try to get out for a bit. My typical hiking partner decided to sit this one out (something about cold and rainy), so I decided to go check out Hammerschmidt Falls in the Buffalo National River (northwest Newton County).
Hammerschmidt Falls is only a short distance from our cabin, but we had never hiked to it. It sits at a pretty high elevation, so I’ve always assumed it would take a lot of water to get going. But after 2 days of steady rain, I thought the timing would be perfect.