Last weekend we drove to Lost Valley in Buffalo National River which is located a couple miles from Ponca, Arkansas. We selected this hike for our family because it is relatively short in length at 2.4 miles, and features several caves and waterfalls.
Our 4-year-old walked most of the trail with a lot of hand holding from my husband while I carried my 2-year-old in an Ergo baby on my back. In the summer heat, this was a great workout!
The thing that scares me most about hiking in Missouri and Arkansas is the possibility of running into a snake. Less than a hundred yards from the parking lot, I spotted a copperhead taking its time to cross the trail. Copperheads are venomous, so we patiently waited for the snake to cross.
It doesn’t seem likely, but if you happen to get bitten by a snake, I think the closest hospital would be North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison, Arkansas which is 30-40 minutes away.
But don’t worry… the hike gets better!
We crossed a little creek bed which led to a wide and well-maintained trail, with occasional benches available for a quick rest.
The trail becomes more narrow and steep as you head towards Natural Bridge and Eden Falls.
We passed through a little water to get to Natural Bridge. A fellow hiker warned us that the rocks were slippery.
There was a waterfall running through the rocks. Several older kids climbed through the falls, but we decided to avoid slipping and walked back around to the trail.
The trail featured several other unique rock formations, towering bluffs, and caves.
We continued on towards Eden Falls. The gorgeous 50+ foot waterfall was the highlight of the hike.
Eden Falls cave
We debated whether or not we should continue the hike up to see Eden Falls Cave. Our 4-year-old listened well, held on to her Dad’s hand, and thought it was a fun adventure climbing up the steep and narrow pathway to the top. While we were glad to see the last cave, I wouldn’t take our girls on this section again until they are older. It was a bit too precarious for my comfort.
However, if you don’t have young ones with you, and don’t mind tight spaces, there is another waterfall inside the cave that we hear is worth checking out!
This hike was beautiful and felt like an adventure. We are looking forward to returning to the Buffalo National River to explore more of the outdoor activities this area has to offer.
Good to Know Before you go:
- No dogs/pets allowed on the trail
- No bikes on trail
- We had poor cell phone service in this area, but trail was well marked and easy to find
- There is a restroom facility and small picnic pavilion near trail head
- This was a popular trail, but there was plenty of parking available on our visit
- Remember water, bug spray, and sunscreen