Backpacker Magazine Fayetteville, AR: Indian Creek 

A hidden treasure just off the Buffalo National River, Indian Creek's mossy waterfalls and karst canyon are best explored after heavy rains.

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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 28 Apr 2008 9:33:44 PM
Activity: Hiking
State: Arkansas (AR)
Distance: 2.07 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 1325 ft
Total Loss: 635 ft
Net Change: 690 ft
Difficulty: 7 / 10
USGS Topo Map: Ponca
Tags: Arkansas, Buffalo National River, Little Rock, Waterfall Hikes
Rating:   2 rating(s) Rate it

To tackle one of Arkansas’s most intensely beautiful hikes, head away from the Buffalo River, over a rise, and then up a narrowing valley of mossy rock and dense hardwoods--and abundant waterfalls, if you time it right. Water spills over nearly every cliff after a good rain.

Follow trails for the first .5 mile to the creek, then turn south. There’s no trail, but follow the worn path. After another .5 mile, the route will become more demanding and require several creek crossings, scrambling over slick rocks, and a traverse over an exposed bluff (or a bushwack above it) at mile 1.3.

This route ends 2.25 miles at Tunnel Cave and Falls. The trail used to travel through the cave to continue up-canyon, but the cave is closed now to protect its inhabitants, endangered gray bats. Getting to the cave is tricky (and beautiful), but if you’re equipped to climb above the cave, the canyon rewards valor with narrowing limestone walls and still more waterfalls.

Our advice: Due to the exposure and slippery rocks, this trip is for adults, not children. Dogs aren’t allowed.

When to go: Summer brings ticks and snakes, so hike after the first freeze through April.

Mapped by Thomas Soerens

TO TRAILHEAD: From Jasper, take AR 7 north .3 mile to AR 74. Turn left (west) and drive 4.8 miles to gravel Camp Orr Rd./Kyles Rd. (sign for Kyles Landing). Turn right; go 1 mile on Kyles Rd. and continue straight onto Kyles Landing Rd. for 1.6 mile to parking area at Buffalo River.

Position Format: Datum:


Distance: 2.07 mi Points: 339
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest


Location: 36.054985, -93.281776
Take trail south and uphill, away from river.


Location: 36.053570, -93.282509
Bear left onto Buffalo River Trail; head uphill on old road.


Location: 36.049358, -93.284264
Turn left at the bottom of the hill.


Location: 36.048908, -93.283974
Continue straight; leave Buffalo River Trail. Head south to follow Indian Creek. There is no official trail, but a well-worn path heads toward the creek.


Location: 36.042931, -93.284462
Cross creek; trail follows west bank.


Location: 36.039921, -93.285027
Cross creek again to clear cliffs on western bank.


Location: 36.038971, -93.285767
Leave the creek and head up the steep hill. The "trail" follows a slick, inches-wide bluff, but for a safer option, head further uphill and bushwack parallel to the creek until you've cleared the bluff.


Location: 36.037521, -93.287018
Falls pour into Indian Creek from rocky gulch to west.


Location: 36.036770, -93.286888
Cross creek


Location: 36.032589, -93.288040
Copperhead Falls


Location: 36.029049, -93.287918
Bat cave; do not enter. Return to Waypoint 1. (Or, if properly equipped, continue above cave to explore the rest of the canyon.)

Trail in Indian Creek

Location: 36.039696, -93.285187
Indian Creek doesn't have an official trail, but over the years, visitors to this rocky gulch near Buffalo National River have created a path. © Thomas Soerens

Slick Rocks

Location: 36.038021, -93.286430
Indian Creek's mossy, wet rocks can be treacherous, so be careful. © Thomas Soerens

Small Waterfall

Location: 36.036896, -93.286896
Limestone slabs choke Indian Creek into waterfalls of many sizes. © Thomas Soerens

Cliff Cascades

Location: 36.029434, -93.287575
After a significant rain, water pours over many of the cliff faces in Indian Creek. © Thomas Soerens


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