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Ponca to Pruitt Via Buffalo River Trail

HARD 73 reviews
#6 of 32 trails in

Ponca to Pruitt Via Buffalo River Trail is a 24.3 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Ponca, Arkansas that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 24.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3,438 feet Route Type: Point to Point

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

paddle sports

trail running

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Great camping spots at Horseshoe Bend. You can hike all day on quiet trails, only running into the occasional hiker, and make camp by the river at night. Great trail.

backpacking
muddy
26 days ago

Arguably the best the Ozarks has to offer.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

This was really a beautiful trail. My friend and I did this over 3 days. This was my first backpacking experience. It was difficult at times, but one you get 3 miles east from Kyles landing it really flattens out and the trail does a good job of mixing in uphill/downhill/flat to cycle your muscles. We did go when it had just rained, it was really muddy in sections, but it wasn’t bad if you have waterproof boots. Some sections the trail was quite narrow with steep embankment on each side- 14ish miles in from Ponca. There were a bunch of ticks on the trail, but what do you expect from spring time in Arkansas. There is also a ton of poison ivy all along the trail. Make sure and wear long pants and tall socks! The reason I gave this a 4 star is because I thought there could have been some better landscape views/river views built into the trail. Most of the trail was not along bluffs, so you can’t just bushwhack and find the edge and get a view. There are a couple of spots where you walk down and you get to see the river, but not as many as I was expecting. I hoped there were more access points to camp along the river (and maybe there are if you follow the Old River Trail (ORT)...but the water was up and crossing the Buffalo was not an option for us. The landscape was mostly forest with a lot of stream/creek crossings (only had to change to water shoes 2 times with high top boots). Heavily shaded so it was really nice and cool. Very pretty and not many people after steel creek, but we didn’t see anyone else after kyles landing. Wildlife spotted: 1 rabbit 5 deer 1 red ear slider turtle 8+ soft shell turtles spotted from a bluff down in the river 1 6” rink neck snake Dozens of large snails An adolescent mountain lion hiding back in a cave. Birds of all sorts We did hear an elk one night, but no sightings.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

Great hike! We camped at Ozark campground the night before we started hiking. The campground was great, plenty of room and it's on the river with a nice bluff. It's only about 5 minutes from the trail head in Pruitt. We started in Pruitt the next morning and hiked about 15 miles where we camped at the top of twin falls waterfall. The next day we hiked the rest of the way to Ponca where we camped on an overlook with a beautiful view of the river. During the hiking phase it rained for about 26 hours straight, but it was still great. The next morning we met up with Buffalo River Outfitters to get the raft we rented. The river was at flood stage the previous day so there were plenty of rapids. Unfortunately, we were only allowed to take the raft to Kyle's Landing and not all they way back to Pruitt. At Kyle's landing were able to get a ride back to the truck from the nicest park ranger, Linda. She went out of her way to take me the opposite direction of where she was originally going in order to get me to my truck. Thanks Linda! You can take the canoes and kayaks all the way from Ponca to Pruitt. This is a great way to make the round trip.

hiking
4 months ago

My son and I hiked this as an out and back3/10-3/13, so approximately 48 miles total. We started on Sunday morning and finished Wednesday morning. I haven’t hiked a whole lot, however, I know challenging trails. This was by far the most challenging trail I’ve ever done. It may have been due to the fact my son and I were trying to accomplish 12+miles a day minimum. 12 miles doesn’t sound like a lot, it is on this trail. There was never a stretch of trail that was flat/easy walking for more than a few hundred yards. The trail itself was very cool. Lots of different scenery. Somewhere around the homestead, the rocks were all covered in moss and images of “Lord of the Rings” come to mind...pretty cool. We went off trail a few times to save time/mileage and that was fun as well. We got rained on for about ten hours and were wet, oh well. Any time I can hike with my son is a great time. This trail is marked hard for a reason. Great trail to test out your pack and gear. Plan accordingly.

hiking
4 months ago

We did 10 miles out and back for a total of 20 as part of our training for rim-to-rim at the Grand Canyon later this month. We started at Ponca and did the hardest part of the trail twice. The elevation gains were extremely challenging. We absolutely LOVED this trail. The views and the various waterfalls were awesome. We had to cross at least 2 small creeks which only added to the entire experience. I would highly recommend the trail to any experienced hiker or anyone looking for a challenge. The 20 miles took us right at 10 hours with several breaks. 10 miles from Ponca took us right to the river for lunch and it was great to put our feet into the river! The trail is very well marked and everyone we met along the path was super friendly.

hiking
4 months ago

day 3

hiking
4 months ago

Did a section of this trail as an O&B.

backpacking
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

This is a beautiful trail, a lot of uphill between Steel Creek and Kyles. There are some areas where the trail drops off steep on one side, creepy! Some climbing/scrambling up, if you’re not tall enough to make the step. Probably not what most people call scrambling but, I had to climb. What a trek! If you think you’re out of shape, you’ll know for sure, soon enough! It was hard but, worth the accomplishment! The views are awesome! We took the BRT from Ponca to Kyles. Then, the ORT back to Steel Creek- lots of river crossing on the ORT. Got a shuttle from Steel Creek to Ponca, due to water levels. *Buffalo Outdoor Center and Lost Valley Canoe, in Ponca, do shuttles, fyi.

hiking
5 months ago

Would anyone have any information on a shuttle service to drive from Pruitt to Ponca or Boxley valley for drop off of the BRT? Would love to hike from Boxley Valley to Pruitt or Maybe Ponca to Pruitt.

backpacking
7 months ago

The most beautiful trail In the state. One of my favorite places to be.

backpacking
8 months ago

I hike this after two days of good rain and it was gorgeous. All the dry creek beds you’re used to passing over were transformed into gushing waterfalls. The river was up and loud. The trail is not easy so take your time and enjoy yourself. Markings are prominent enough where you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way.

backpacking
Monday, June 11, 2018

We hiked from Boxley to Pruitt (roughly 37 miles) from June 6-9. It was hot and tick-filled but a great backpacking trip! The trail was a bit overgrown in some parts, but still pretty easy to navigate--a good amount of blazes helped! Lots of already established backcountry campsites. Sadly, campers before us did not do a good job practicing LNT principles :-( Quite a few creek beds were dry but we were still able to find a good amount of water.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A friend and I backpacked this trail (Buffalo River Trail with connecting trails to the Old River Trail) earlier this week. We actually began at the trail’s beginning at the Boxley trailhead, which is 11 miles southwest of the Ponca trailhead, and we hiked to the trail’s conclusion at Pruitt, some 37 miles from Boxley; we took four days to hike and camped three nights. Past Steel Creek, we took a connecting trail (marked “Primitive Trail”) down from the BRT in the mountains to the ORT along the river. We followed the ORT to Jim’s Bluff, where we spent our second of three nights. The next day, we followed this old and poorly-marked horse trail to Hemmed-In Hollow, which is a box canyon containing the tallest waterfall between the Appalachians and Rockies; from there, we trekked along the ORT for three more miles in our water shoes to reconnect with the BRT at Kyle’s Landing. We fell in love with this trail—what a wild, beautiful and unforgiving terrain with incredible views, ozark glades, waterfalls, wildlife and homestead ruins around every bend. Something to consider, though: while we found many backcountry campsites with water sources toward the beginning of the trail, we found very few toward the end. Past Kyle’s Landing, the trail stayed high above the river, and with little remaining light, we were forced to stealth-camp past Erbie at one of the only sections of trail with river access. (We could have camped at Erbie campground if we’d carried more cash and less pride.)

hiking
Friday, March 02, 2018

Awesome hike! Lots of water to tred through along the way, beautiful sights, and good swimming hole spots!

backpacking
Sunday, November 05, 2017

Awesome trail! We hiked in on the Old river trail about 9.5 miles first day and camped off of the “primitive route”. Found a great camping spot right next to a spring with great water. Hiked back to the horse stables the next day and then onto the BRT! Beautiful scenery and the BRT is a real butt kicker!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Can't wait to do it again!

backpacking
Monday, June 26, 2017

Really enjoyed hiking this place. I plan to go back in the fall.

backpacking
Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hiked from Kyle's Landing to Steel Creek on the BRT. Then canoed from Steel Creek back to Kyle's Landing on the Buffalo River. A really cool way to make a "loop" back to the vehicle while getting some hiking and canoeing in. Awesome Place! Will be going back soon to hike the most western and most eastern parts of the BRT to finish the trail off!

backpacking
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Second time to hike BRT from Steel Creek to Kyle's Landing and back to Steel Creek on ORT via Horseshoe Bend.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Great for all skill levels and kids. Amazing views of the Buffalo River!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hiked Ponca to Pruitt. One of my favorite trails in Arkansas. Great camping spots at Horseshoe Bend. Love hiking all day on quiet trails, running into the occasional hiker, and making camp by the river at night. Great trail.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We had an amazing time here, we spent the day last summer. We had a picnic and just lounged in the water. Great place to take the family on a hot summer day to just cool of and enjoy the great outdoors. The view is amazing!

camping
Monday, January 25, 2016

Great campground on the Buffalo with good amenities for groups and convenient access to an outfitter. Great hiking all around.

hiking
Monday, January 04, 2016

My daughter and I hiked Boxley to Ponca and definitely want to go back and hike some more. Beautiful area, great time of year to see fall colors!

camping
Thursday, August 27, 2015

One of the best backpacking trips I've ever been on. The mosquitos were a little heavy handed, but still the most gorgeous place I've been in a while.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I want to live here. No words for the beauty!

paddle sports
Thursday, June 04, 2015

Canoed from Ponca to Pruitt. Used the Lost Valley Canoe. Absolutely the worse service. Left us on the river for 5 hours. Flood levels. Left our car at wrong location. Said it was our fault that we did not understand that they were busy. The River was dangerous and they did not tell us. Do not use this business. Buffalo River Outfitter are much better. I will contact the National Park Service, as they are a licensed provider. They should lose their license. Otherwise the river was high and fast. If you are not experienced, do not ride the river when the Ponca Low Water Bridge is anything under 10 inches of air space. .

camping
Monday, January 12, 2015

Have used the primitive campground a number of times. Great staging area. This is a for fee NF campground, but in the winter months is is open for free camping.

paddle sports
Sunday, September 28, 2014

I've hiked Ponca to Kyle's many times. And have canoed here count less times. It's wild to mild depending on water Levals. The good people at lost valley canoe can help you with shuttle service weather your canoeing or hiking. They also rent canoes, cabins, primitive camp sights, showers, and last Minot supply's

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