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.