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Beautiful hike but be prepared or just stay on the rim.

The overlooks are really beautiful. Only found one falls with a large pool underneath. The trail was pretty much nonexistent at some point and we didn’t see any ribbons or markers. It was still a fun hike with great views.

hiking
13 days ago

Started at 8am and finished around 11. I clocked in right at 6 miles. It winds through thick woods with plenty of shade. The first 2 miles are very confusing. I constantly referred to the AllTrails map (Be sure to download it. No signal out there). The trail is very poorly marked, with a ton of forks. I pretty much stuck to the red mountain bike markers for the most part. I think there are a lot of bike loops that add to the trail, but if you pay attention to your map, you can bypass them.

There’s a great spot overlooking pond to throw up that Eno for a break. It’s part of a Chimpanzee refuge, so you can hear the chimps going nuts in the distance.

It’s mainly a mountain biking trail, so be sure to look out for those guys. Overall it’s a great trail considering that there aren’t many in this area.

hiking
14 days ago

This trail would be 5 stars if it was clearly marked. Multiple unlabeled forks in the trails and the cell signal is really bad out there. I realized I was lost about 2 miles in, and switched to follow the horseback trail (since THAT is clearly marked) in hopes of finding my way back to the car. It worked, and I ended up with a nice 5 mile hike still. The two cycling/hike trails cross over each other and the horseback trail multiple times, and they aren’t marked in a way that you can tell you are going the right direction for a loop.

The whole 23 miles is wonderful, absolutely one of the best Arkansas trails, and also one of the finest trails in the southeastern U.S. Six trailheads make it perfect for day trips or camping in Forest Service campgrounds, and backpack camping is allowed.

I took 2 kids (7 year olds) and a puppy. Trail is family and dog friendly. Love this trail. The overlooks on the way to the first waterfall are beautiful. The first waterfall is so simple to get to and is a great little swim spot. The second waterfall is a easy trail but you have to pay very close attention and follow the orange ribbons. Both waterfalls are pretty great when they are flowing.

Beautiful trail! Would highly recommend. My dog and I did the ~9 mile loop and we both really enjoyed it. I agree with the previous reviewer that you should walk through the stone door area FIRST otherwise you're in for an excruciating last mile or so. Be careful this time of year about ticks! My dog (who doesn't stick to the trail completely) had 3 or 4 on him after he was bathed that I had to pull off. He has a flea and tick collar too, so I can only imagine how bad it might have been without it. It took us about 4.5 hrs to complete: we kept a pretty good pace while walking but stopped momentarily in a few places to enjoy the view.

I have been there twice and love it.

Great day hike if you are looking for something more challenging than a leisurely stroll. Allow enough time to complete your hike as necessary, the spur trail to Ranger Falls is a MUST. STRONGLY RECOMMEND starting with Gulf trail from Stone Door and finishing with Rim trail to allow time for recovery. Otherwise you will be making a steep ascent over rocks and some boulders to end your hike.

Moderate to difficult trail. I hiked this in a race day, so Big Creek Gulf was very well-marked, but I’m not sure it always is. Nice variation of terrain. I did it clockwise, so went down Stone Door first, then Big Creek Gulf (which was fun and loud from all the rain), then took the Big Creek Rim back, which was easy and flat after all the work in the first few miles. Highly recommend.

The two waterfalls are gorgeous following rains. The Redbud trees were blooming and that made the scenery spectacular , too.
The map does not show the route to the second waterfall. It is a bushwack to it, but someone has tied pink and orange ribbons along the way. We went in circles a bit, but I marked waypoints on my recording on 3/31/18 if you want to look at that map.

Backpacked down Stone Door, along Big Creek Gulf trail and back up to Alum Gap campsite. Lots of rock hopping so the proper footwear is essential. Ranger Falls was gushing due to all the recent rain. You have to walk a bit to find firewood as it is picked clean around the Alum Gap campsite. Nice overlooks on the hike out along Big Creek Rim trail. Strenuous hike but worth it.

Went through Stone Door into the gorge. Very rocky, but once down there, wildflowers were everywhere! Beautiful The bolder filled creek was dry, but hiked to a Ranger falls anyway. It was running great, with a small rainbow at bottom. It goes underground, that’s why you see no water in creek bed. Going on along BCG Trail, I came upon another smaller waterfall. It also runs back underground, as does Big Creek, which you will see for the remainder of the hike out of gorge. Very rocky climb out to the rim. Rim trail has a few nice overlooks. I would rate this moderate, with steep climb at end. Don’t wear flip-flops!!

Beautiful views, considerable elevation gains and descent. Tricky footing in some places over rocky trails especially when climbing or decending on the gulf. Take the extra .8 miles to see Ranger falls!

Not the easiest to get to, but that means less people, and in my book, less is more. You're first decision is clockwise or counterclockwise. Clockwise will take you UP the road then onto the trail. The benefit being you finish on the trail. Counterclockwise you will finish on the road going down. The benefit being an easy walk downhill to finish. There is a trail to the Thunder Canyon Falls that you will miss if you are not looking. If you've read that it's slippery, it was an understatement, expect to slip and maybe you won't. Don't neglect the fire pit at the northern most portion of the trail. It's a great place to have lunch or play in the water. There is nothing spectacular about this trail but it is a solid 4 star. The distance is obviously longer if you trek back to the falls and it will take you longer than you think to get there.

We hiked from Barkshed to Gunner Pool and back. It was beautiful. Both recreation areas are a great place to bbq and relax after a rigorous hike

It was challenging for me as I haven’t done that distance in years. The views were fantastic- great time of year (early March) for some bonus waterfalls. Great sense of accomplishment after completing the loop!

The outing was fun but we added a couple of extra small trails off to the side on to our loop. The cave and cemetary were the highlight of Cecil Cove.

Thunder Canyon falls is beautiful. I went when it was frozen and it was just wonderful. The hike is long but simple. Getting there on the road can be tricky if it has rained!

An amazing hike! I enjoyed the day immensely. Thank you to Steve Singleton and NWA Hiking Group for leading us.

Great hike today! With all the rain this week the waterfalls were flowing. Made the creek crossings more adventurous but was a great hike! One of the harder hikes I’ve been on in the area offering some steeper inclines/declines. Beautiful hike and will be back!

3 months ago

Closed Monday, Tuesday, and Holidays. Open from 8-5 wedding-Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday. That would’ve been great to know before driving all the way out here.

great winter waterfall hike for ranger creek falls

A little bit of everything. Easy, fun hike with a LOT of great views. Some challenging areas (when backpacking)

This trail is a shit-hole. Poorly maintained, and poorly marked. Run Backbone if you want a real challenge.

hiking
4 months ago

Took the loop to the trail to thunder canyon falls last week. It was very peaceful and the falls were just gorgeous. I will definitely be going again to explore more.

hiking
4 months ago

Wonderful trail, but the signs can be a bit confusing

Love this trail during winter months. Scenery is beautiful. Can be challenging in areas. Easy if you hike a lot and used to it. Take your time you’ll be fine.

I would agree with Paul Jacob that this hike could be rated as moderate if you hike regularly. While there are certainly strenuous sections and the mileage is up over 9 miles if you add on the extra 0.8 to Ranger Falls (highly recommend!!), the trail is super easy to navigate with all of the blazes and clear signage. Also, the uphill sections really aren't bad if you take the loop clockwise. I would think going counterclockwise on the loop would be harder as the trail ascending out of the Big Creek Gulf to Stone Door is steeper and rocky.

Since we did this hike during the winter, we were able to see Big Creek very well along the Big Creek Gulf trail, which was flowing beautifully in spots. The flowing water sections of Big Creek plus the spur trail to Ranger Falls made this my favorite section of the three sections on this loop.

Summary: If you're a regular hiker, this is a fairly moderate, mid-distance hike with some great scenery for the mileage. My wife and I were able to complete the loop in just under 5 hours. We highly recommend this one!

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