The Alum Cove Natural Bridge Trail (near Deer, Newton County, Arkansas, Ozark National Forest) is a relatively short 1.2-mile hike that provides a lot of great features including a couple of waterfalls, a cave, a small stream, and the highlight, the Alum Cove Natural Bridge.
This is a family-friendly destination with a lot of bang for your hiking effort.
I first hiked Alum Cove several years ago, and the area was not in great condition due to some winter storm damage at the time.
At our recent visit in May 2016, it was in much better condition.
In 2014, we hiked down to Big Creek Cave Falls (Newton County, Ozark National Forest) in what was one of our favorite hikes/bushwhacks we have ever done. The hike includes a stream that comes right out of a cave, a 29-foot tall waterfall that comes out of a cave, and another waterfall along Big Creek which is also beautiful. (See the post on that hike here.)
We went back to the area last year because, well, it’s just that good. And because I had found out that there was yet another waterfall on this hike–Wolf Creek Falls–and wanted to check it out.
The hike to Big Creek Cave Falls (Newton County, Ozark National Forest) and along Big Creek is one of the best surprise hikes in the Ozarks. This is a spectacular area and is now one of our favorite places in northwest Arkansas.
It’s surprising that in 12 years of coming to the area I’d never heard anyone even mention this great hike and unique waterfall. I had just pulled it out of Tim Ernst’s Arkansas Waterfalls book and thought, “That looks cool. We should check it out.” And it is definitely worth checking out.
The setting is beautiful. There are multiple waterfalls in the area; two of which pour right out of a cave. And the creek itself has a lot of spectacular water features, and the grand finale does not disappoint.
There is no official trail. However, half of the trail is very easy to navigate; the other half requires some imagination and bushwhacking.
The best time to check out the trail is probably in early spring when the water is up, but before the growth in the woods becomes too challenging to navigate.
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.)