East Caney Creek Trail is a 7.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mena, AR that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.
This trail was great. The elevation was not too hard for a nice stroll through the forest. In a few more weeks the fall colors here will be extravagant. I don't want to take anything away from this trail because it was exciting, however, I give this trail three stars because it is poorly marked. The trail is great, but gives a visitor no instructions. It does not give any details about the trail or joining trails. After I finished hiking East Caney Creek trail, I found the forest service sign saying that it was the buckeye trail, while at the road it says it was the East Caney Creek. I was then totally confused, So after further research to figure out which trail I had hiked, I realize that this was a combination of trails. I am surprised that I did not get lost. We took this trail to see the waterfall but could not find it, because I did not research it up front and the trail has no information when you get there or phone signal. Hopefully, you read all the comments on here and plan from there. Lesson learned, now I want to go back and do the whole thing.
Clearest creek water I have ever seen. Love this trail late Oct thru Feb. Great for shakedowns and newbies or just to get away for a day or two.
Great little trail. Enjoyed the overlooks and little stream crossings.
More difficult than I thought, well marked though.
Just got back from the East Caney Creek / Buckeye Loop trails this week. Great hike! Took two days. You have to drive almost 5 miles on an uphill dirt road to get to the trail from the Shady Lake campground. I made it in midsize car but it was bumpy. OuachitaMaps.com suggests dropping your pack at the Buckeye TH and then parking down at East Caney Creek, then hiking up to Buckeye without the pack, picking it up there and heading counter-clockwise around the loop so you hit Buckeye first and take it easy on E Caney Creek on day two. Not a bad idea, but make sure you actually hike up the actual road to get to the Buckeye TH -- it’s a about a mile on the dirt road – I got a late start at 2pm because I got lost in my car finding the darn Shady Lake entrance, then didn’t realize I still had 5 miles of dirt road ahead of me from there to the TH … pay attention to “unpaved road” on the map. I didn’t feel safe leaving my pack at the Buckeye TH (in case that wasn’t actually the TH, since it wasn’t labeled), so I parked at E Caney Creek and shot off down the trail in front of me instead of going up the road. An hour later I was wondering why I wasn’t going uphill and I still saw the creek – I was so anxious to get going, I had set off clockwise west, instead of the generally suggested counterclockwise route, and was hiking the E Caney Trail instead. Shockingly stupid, I know. Just as well since it was late; I never would have made it to camp going Buckeye first. E Caney Creek trail was relatively fast and moderate difficulty; lots of peace and beauty, and though it had rained a few days earlier, I never had to take my boots off to make any of the creek crossings. This may be basic info, but pay attention to the sunset times, because in the forest, when sunset is at 5pm, you need to be at camp with your tent set up or in process; it gets too dark to see within the hour. This E Caney Creek trail is a little sketchy to locate on occasion but I never lost it. I did refer to a compass and map to verify generally that I was heading west. Camped at the vertex of E Caney Creek and another inlet, it’s the biggest campsite I saw with firepit at the end of E Caney Creek trail, beautiful spot with the two creeks and running water. Set out on day two with an easy cross over E Caney Creek and literally less than fifty feet later is the Caney Creek/Buckeye TH rock cairn – as others say, don’t miss it or you’ll be heading down W Caney Creek trail. I loaded a few pics on AllTrails. Hook a very sharp right here and then to the right less than a few steps later is the Katy Falls spur – go see it, it’s a highlight. Leave your pack at the top of the hill to scramble down to the bottom of the falls; gloves were useful for me. You could also camp above the falls which would be a great spot; there’s another fire pit. Now comes the “strenuous” part of the trail – the mountain region – head back to the main Buckeye trail and go right – there’s a sort of little four-foot path of rocks laid out to mark it. Watch out for spiders who like to build webs directly across the trails in the mornings, I guess to catch hikers, but those spiders are big ole forest spiders, not something you want on your head. I saw them generally a few feet before I’d hit the web, and knock it out of the way with my pole. Also there’s a lot of thorny vines along the way but if you have long pants you’ll be fine. The Buckeye trail could use some upkeep from this point to the main Buckeye vista. There were three or four points when I seriously thought I’d lost the trail – it just went into a thicket and then nothing – but in every case it turned out to be doing something weird like whipping around in a u-turn behind me and I’d look around and find it again. In these cases, I found that anytime I had to walk farther away from a point of reference than I could return to, I’d gone too far, and the trail was actually behind me doing a sharp turn over the ridge or something unexpected. The trail is there and it’s obvious when you’re on it, but I had to keep my eyes on it frequently for fear of losing it – not a good thing on a solo hike seven miles into the wilderness. There are essentially no marking on trees along this loop anywhere, though it looks like someone made the attempt here and there. Also be aware that hiking uphill for this section is significantly slower and harder than the E Caney Creek portion – which is why most people like doing it counterclockwise, Buckeye first. It took me from 2pm to 5pm on E Caney Creek; Buckeye took me from 11am to 6pm officially back to my car. I go slow and stop and take photos a lot however. The vistas along Buckeye are great when you get to them, but from E Caney Creek to the mountain ridges is the hardest part of this loop – the trail is uphill, it gets very rocky, and very tenuous at points, it’s not kept up all that well compared to most trails; one time I thought (continued)
(continued) I would have to turn back and go all the way back to E Caney Creek because the trail appeared to dead-end in a thicket on the ridge – again though the trail ended up looping backwards and over the other side of the ridge. I was worn out by the time I made it to the Buckeye vista – and note that from the Buckeye main vista all the way to the Buckeye TH, the trail suddenly becomes a different and easier experience altogether, because obviously a lot of people simply hike from the Buckeye TH to the vista and back down – so if you start at the Buckeye TH, and hike to that first vista, you will be severely deceived about the remainder of what you are getting into if you are planning to get to E Caney Creek from there! It’s TWO DIFFERENT types of trail completely. My grandma could hike that first portion with a good walking stick; but beyond that, it’s Into The Wild. The biggest thing to know is that all the campsites have firepits, so you can tell easily when you’ve found one; and also the trail is there, and sometimes you just have to scout for it if you lose it, but you should never have to go farther from your reference point than you can get back to – if you feel that happening, you’ve gone too far, go back and try again, look elsewhere, look behind you, etc., and don’t ever start walking through brush thinking you’ll find the trail that way, because the trail is always within a few steps of where you are, and very obvious when you’ve found it, compared to dense thickets or what-have-you. There’s a good site below that I printed out and took with me on the trail and it helped; print this and other reviews and pics and anything else you can find and take that with you along with a good map and compass for sure. Reference other people’s comments for direction, suggestions etc. as you go. I put some pics of the Buckeye TH and the rock cairn and some other notables. Good luck, it’s a challenging two-day hike and it feels great to knock it out! Here's some other links: http://arkokhiker.org/southwest-arkansas/buckeye-east-caney-creek-trail/ -- http://compulsivehiker.com/2014/05/02/buckeye-caney-creek-loop/ -- http://www.ouachitamaps.com/Buckeye.html
This was a great trail we actually tried to do the Buckeye trail and miss the turn make sure if you are doing that trail return is literally a 90 degrees if you do the canyon Creek Trail after the Buckeye trail from west to east there is a lot of fallen trees and sometimes it is hard to find the trail after you cross a river they are marked with a yellow mark on trees
Very neat trail with lots of wildflowers. The irises in the Spring are excellent. There are many good camp spots, and the creek crossings are very peaceful and pretty. Be sure to take the right path where Caney Creek trail meets Buckeye Mountain trail, and at least take a glance at the nearby Katy Falls. This is a great campsite.
Hiked this trail a few days ago as an out and back. Due to time limitations, I only hiked as far as the Buckeye trail. I did venture up the Buckeye a little ways to view Katy Falls. The Caney Creek trail is full of creek crossings, as well as several logs to hop. The creek crossings this day were not too bad--a couple were dry. Several nice views and a waterfall. If you like solitude, this trail is for you. Only people I saw were two gentlemen about a mile from the trailhead on the way back. This trail is not marked or maintained, but well worn.
I have not done the Caney Creek Trail as an out and back hike, but rather combined The Buckeye Trail, which runs into the Caney Creek trail, and followed the remainder of Caney Creek Trail out to Forest Road 38. This makes a nice 9.5 mile loop.
When I did this in early spring conditions were relatively cold and windy on the exposed ridges, but warmed considerably when in the timber and protected portions of the trail
There are numerous interesting rock formations and your standard scenic vistas, and it is really not a terribly difficult hike when done this way. Starting at FR38 and the Buckeye Trail it is largely downhill until the last mile or two when coming back up to FR 38 on the Caney Creek trail.
I found an apparently rare variation of the Trillium blooming here (Trillium pusillum var. ozarkanum) and came upon a large group of swallowtail butterflies that had apparently just emerged as they were in absolutely perfect, pristine condition, and weren't flying much.