Hiking the Ozarks of Arkansas

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 7-14, 1996
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Hiking the Ozarks of Arkansas
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Hiking the Ozarks of Arkansas
Q: I'd like to do some hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing during March in the Ozark area. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find any publications or other information on the Ozarks at all. I am interested in USFW refuges, state conservation areas, and any other "off-the-beaten-path" areas.
Jennifer Last
Grand Forks, ND
[email protected]
Canoeing the Buffalo National River through the Ozarks
A: For a spectacular but challenging three- to four-day hike with plenty of wildlife, I recommend heading down to the Buffalo National River wilderness in northwest Arkansas. Winding for 150 miles through the Ozarks, the Buffalo is one of the most beautiful canoe runs in the country, with its countless rapids, cliffs, and scenic side canyons. The Buffalo National River Trail offers a different perspective of the Ozarks as it winds its way 36.8 miles from the hamlet of Pruitt to Boxley Valley--sometimes hugging the river, sometimes cresting oak- and hickory-clad ridges. Keep your eyes open for elk and black bears--not to mention the swarms of ticks, chiggers, and snakes that abound during warm months.

If you can ford the mighty Buffalo, don't miss a side hike to Hemmed-in-Hollow, a narrow canyon with a 175-foot waterfall--the largest free-leaping falls between the southern Appalachians and the Rockies. Camping is allowed anywhere in the backcountry, and hiker shuttles can be arranged through Buffalo Outdoor Center at 800-221-5514. To find the trailhead, take I-40 75 miles west out of Little Rock to Arkansas 7 and drive another 75 miles north to Pruitt. The ranger station in town sells Trails Illustrated's Buffalo National River: West Half topo map for $6, as well as the Buffalo River Hiking Trails guidebook for $14.95 (Ernst Wilderness, 800-838-4453). For more information, call the Buffalo National River at 501-741-5443, and be sure to check out "The Best Hike in Every State" in our April 1996 issue, online and on newsstands in mid-March.

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