April 6, 2016

Big Bluff & the Goat Trail

I told you the Ponca/Boxley Valley had multiple gems. Now, in contrast to my last Adventure Series post where I highlighted the most beautiful place in Arkansas and told you to wait until after a heavy rain, the opposite will be said for this one... I cannot recall how recent the last rainfall was when we arrived at the Centerpoint trailhead, but apparently it was too recent. This trail can get muddy fast, and with lots of loose rocks and steep hills it can be quite the slippery 6.5 miles. I didn't take any trekking poles when I went on this hike, but I plan to in the future and highly recommend them.

Ah, those purple & blue shadows so typical of winter in the Ozarks -- as seen near the Centerpoint Trailhead

Obviously the best time for most trails in the Ozarks is any season but winter--the blooms in the spring, the changing leaves in the fall, and naturally the summertime in between. Bare trees are rarely as pretty to look at in comparison, and I plan on repeating this trail in the future when the views are a bit more lush. Having said that, one benefit of leaf-less trees can be that they reveal views that are otherwise difficult to see, such as the pretty green Buffalo River in the following photographs.

The first hour or so isn't a whole lot to look at, but enjoy the peaceful stroll through the cedar forest. I'm sure you're wondering why it's nicknamed the Goat Trail. Once upon a time, feral goats could be seen climbing the bluffs,

but I've never met anyone who's seen them on this trail today. Wouldn't that be a sight!

The bluff you're headed to is over 500 ft tall, making it the largest to overlook the Buffalo River Valley below--the drops are steep, and people have died on this trail due to mistakes that are easy enough to avoid: do not consume alcohol, and avoid hiking at night. I admit that we even miscalculated our arrival time, hiking time, and sunset and were left finishing the trail by flashlight (luckily we were past the dangerous areas). Ensure that you leave early enough in the day that this does not happen to you, if for no other reason than you won't want to rush back once you arrive at your destination. It's hard to leave--I wished we had brought overnight gear when we stumbled on an amazing (and vacant!) campsite.

The boyfriend had fun climbing through that little hole...

Just in case you're not picking up on the sheer size of that thing above...

Keep on the lookout for more Adventure Series posts to come!

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