river

hiking

forest

views

no dogs

walking

kid friendly

camping

wild flowers

birding

nature trips

fishing

trail running

paddle sports

waterfall

wildlife

backpacking

Established in 1972, Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining un-dammed rivers in the lower 48 states. Once you arrive, prepare to journey from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.

This loop is essentially two trails, counterclockwise (1) south half is well maintained "tourist trail" visits a half dozen old mines, mine entrances fenced off, J-shaped, moderate, some gradual uphill. No problem with ticks & chiggers, trail is mostly a wide road.
(2) north side enters forest, is primitive, not maintained, essentially a bushwhack. Good Samaritans hung ribbons on trees, carefully follow the fading ribbons (tread buried under leaves), ascend the ridge thru rock formations, nice vista, then descend back down to the well-groomed tourist trail on the north side. Don't attempt the wild unmaintained north side of the loop unless adventurous and fit.

The hike back up is no joke!! Not to mention the decent being somewhat difficult as well. I’m a young, slightly out of shape, but otherwise healthy person and it was definitely doable, but by no means leisurely. The views are totally worth it, even in winter!! The actual bluff/ goat trail was not as intimidating as I thought but I’m not afraid of heights in the first place. Personally, I would not bring kids even though I saw some on the hike. There was even a family with a baby and a stroller and they were definitely having a difficult time back up. Otherwise I 10/10 recommend this hike!

Great trail. Very nice winter views! Like the previous reviews say easy walk to Big Bluff...all downhill. Hike out another story all uphill.. definitely allow extra time heading back to the trailhead. Great wildlife saw both deer and wild hogs on my hike. Be very careful on the Goat Trail on the Bluff! You can still get amazing views without crossing the ledge. It is literally breathtaking! Worth the walk!!!

I hiked this trail today and it was incredible! Getting to the Eye of the Needle was a challenge but I took my time and held on to the ropes that help guide you up and down the side of the cliff. Also I’m glad I became Pro on this All Trails App because it guided me along with GPS and got me where I needed to be because the trail is not marked.

Hiked this trail on 12/29. What an amazing trail!

hiking
16 days ago

Simple, easy, flat hike great for all ages/abilities. There are some great views of the buffalo River at the beginning of the trail. The trail takes you right along the creek for the majority of the hike, which was pleasant.

backpacking
27 days ago

I did this trail in December and had a great time. I liked the fact that the river came fairly close to the trail several times eliminating the need to carry large amounts of water. The views were nice and there were some old homesteads and cemeteries along the way. The creek crossing to start the trail was a little brisk but there is a fire ring just up from the waters edge and if you strip before crossing,the warming up and drying out is a quick process. At the time of my crossing the water was about crotch deep at the deepest part and there was no current.

hiking
29 days ago

Awesomeness!

I’m 62 yrs young and have been hiking this trail since 1981. I hiked it three times since October in preparation for a trip to Israel to climb Masada. It was a perfect training hike! Spectacular views, great workout, and a very special place to reflect on how fortunate we are that the Ozark Society lobbied Congress to declare the Buffalo River as our first national river. It is protected forever!

Amazing

Beautiful trail, would love to see the amazing waterfalls during wet season, they were not flowing at all while we were here. But we saw some pretty icicles. We only got about half way before turning around, this trail to me is too dangerous for kids. I was a nervous wreck while on the parts of the trail that were on the EDGE of the mountain with a straight drop off. Wish I would have known that most of the trail is that way and we would have picked one more kid friendly. We have an 11 and 14 year old and our 14 year old slipped and fell on the loose rock on this trail, scared me to death. I would go alone with my husband but never again with the kids.

Nice. Traffic noise and some litter along the trail. But a easy little hike along Mill Creek.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike with a stunning bluff view at the end of the trail!

The views were spectacular! Even with the bare trees this time of year the scenery was breathtaking.

It was awesome. I'm not the best hiker but this one is a must. Easy going down to the trail little more work coming back up but no problems. Beautiful view.

First mile pretty easy with second mile little more downhill and you have to watch your footing here and there, once you get to the Bluff and goat trail it is spectacular! From the 100 year old junipers to the view of the buffalo river below along with the beauty of the geology. We even saw a cactus growing out of the Bluff ready to bloom overhead!
The walk out only has few spots that worked the legs but otherwise worth every bit of effort

hiking
2 months ago

This is spectacular. I broke my arm... it was when we were all the way in to the eye of the needle. An accident can happen in a parking lot  and the hike back out was torture with a broken arm. But my review stays the same—-spectacular. Just use caution because it’s rated HARD for a reason.

camping
2 months ago

We went out and went camping on the trail and had a blast. You definitely are isolated and there's lots of animals down there at night but its incredibly relaxing. The hike can be taxing but if you make sure you watch where you're stepping and take breaks if you need to you'll be fine.

This trail is no joke for those of us who are average hikers. I'm in no great shape by any means so this may be an easy trail for you young, fit, whipper snappers but I'm almost 40 with added natural insulation. I'm grateful that I had on hiking boots (if you're prone to rolled ankles or not so stable on your feet, wear boots!), and two trekking poles. The poles were a life saver!
The first mile has a bit of an up and down but nothing extreme. It's a little rocky in areas so watch your step. If you want to look at the view then stop and look; don't try to look and walk through the rocks.
When we went it was somewhat foggy so the view over the side wasn't as great but it was beautiful with the leaves changing color. Right before you get to the downhill section there are two rocks on the right side. Take a break, adjust your shoes/boots, tighten your pack. The down hill is slow and deliberate with all sized boulders. It drops you down into a valley. Watch for the barbed wire fence to the left side if you have to make a pit stop. There are turns and ups and downs along the way...some worse then others. It was muddy in places but if you look there's usually a worn path off to the side to avoid the worst of it. The trail forks to the bluff/cliff area or onward to the hemmed-in-hollow trail. We took the bluff trail and it was worth the view. It's amazing had the terrain changes so quickly. Watch your step if it's slippery. The cliff if very steep and drops off at the edge of the trail in places. We had lunch in one of the little bluff coves. The river is very low below but we could hear water running. Once we got back onto the trail the first mile or so out of the bluff is flat and not as rocky. If you need to make up time like we did to beat the dark this is the place to truck it a bit.
The downhill drop from before seems like a small dip compared to what it looks like when you reach it going back up. From the bottom looking up it looks like you're going to be heading straight uphill with menacing boulders filling the trail. I'm not ashamed to say that I stopped many times to catch my breath and rest. And again I'm so very thankful to have had my poles. It probably took 45 minutes to get through that section.
Once at the top find the two rocks again, this time on the left side, and take a break. Drink water, have a snack. Soak in what you just accomplished and the view you saw. It's worth the break.
As formidable as this trail was I would do it again. It's beautiful and takes you to different nature environments along the way.
Some people brought their dogs even though it said no pets. Who follows rules anymore anyway?
I felt sorry for those poor dog's feet. They would be sore after that trek just like mine were.
Bring plenty of water and snacks. There was no where to filter along the trail.

Very hard trail to hike if you’re not in shape. Beautiful scenery throughout. Can be tough to navigate but if you stay on the creek you’ll be fine.

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