Even after years of hiking around Northwest Arkansas, we are still finding new trails. We've had our eye on The Goat Trail to Big Bluff for a while, but wanted to be sure Colt could be trusted with the exposure -- and I'm here to tell you, it is EXPOSED. Every website you can find that mentions Big Bluff will tell you the same thing, and they aren't exaggerating. The view is gorgeous, but the bluff is unforgiving.
Today was my birthday (Happy 34 to me!) and my two favorite boys granted my birthday wish to spend the day in the fresh fall air as a family. Directions on the NPS website for Centerpoint Trail were perfect and we were at the trailhead by 9:30. 3ish miles in, 3ish miles out. But the elevation is the real kicker.
Downhill downhill downhill on the way to the bluff, then upill uphill uphill back out. But the weather was gorgeous, the company was second to none, and the Buffalo River Wilderness is always good to us.
We'd been warned the trail itself is nothing special as far as scenery, and that was true. The 2.75 miles from the Centerpoint Trailhead to the Goat Trail junction were through the woods with no views of the river or much else. But the trail is well-marked, the breeze was nice, and we had been assured the view at the Bluff was worth it.
After 2.75 miles through the trees, we took the (well-marked) Goat Trail fork to the south for another quarter mile. The trail evolved from "through the trees" to "along the bluff" pretty quickly, and opened up to a gorgeous view of the Buffalo River.
We were a few weeks early for the leaves, I think, but it was Buffalo-beautiful. And, of course, after the initial view of the river we had to round the bend and continue along the Bluff. At 550 feet, Big Bluff is the tallest sheer bluff face between the Rockies and the Appalachians. And that exposure I mentioned...?
After the boys checked out the edge of the bluff - and I hyperventilated back on solid(ish) ground - we were ready to head back. It was a busy day out there. We saw several large groups of hikers coming in as we were hiking out, so I can imagine it got crowded at the end of the trail near the Bluff.
This was Colt's second hike with his new pack, and he continues to impress us as such a strong hiker. He'll be ready for a backpacking trip in no time!
As we headed back to Fayetteville, we had one last treat. The elk! We've driven past this spot dozens of times, and have either seen no elk or seen one or two off in the distance. But today! The entire herd! I took some video, but the wind is so strong you can't hear them bugling. It was amazing in person. A beautiful day at the Buffalo indeed.