Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Arkansas with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I’d say “moderate” is a fairly conservative rating. Pretty rocky in places and the uphill hike back is no joke. My legs are gonna be worthless in the morning. However, the views were worth every step. Absolutely incredible!

1 day ago

Excellent trail for Arkansas. Not for beginners. We clocked in a little over 31 miles over 3 days at a leisurely pace. I would recommend travelling clockwise on the loop however. The south sides of the ridges were far more forgiving that the steed, straight north side trails. All in all a great hike.

We paired this trail with the caney creek trail for a nice one night backpacking loop. We parked our car at the east caney trailhead and walked about a mile up the gravel road to the buckeye trailhead. Both trailheads are well marked and have plenty of parking. The buckeye is rated as moderate and I believe that is an accurate description. It’s has some decent climbs but nothing too taxing or that lasts for too terribly long. I read where others had some issues following the trail but we didn’t experience any of this. This may be due to the time of year we went which had decreased underbrush. The views along the ridge of the buckeye were vast and the rock formations along this and the caney were impressive. There’s a few good areas to stop and rest or have a snack. Be sure to pack all the water you will need as there is no water for filtering along the ridge. We hiked about 4.5 miles on the trail (not including the 1 mike hike to the trailhead) and arrived at Katy falls. We ended up camping at a spot above the falls and up the stream a bit. It was secluded and peaceful with a nice fire ring and the stream near by for a water source. The falls were a great place for our dog to swim in the pool below and a great place to hang out for lunch. After a good nights rest we joined up with the caney creek trail and headed east. We passed several nice campsites, both near the stream, where the trails merge. The caney creek trail passed through a beautiful forest area and was near the stream for the majority of the hike. There were several campsites along this portion of the trail as well. As with the buckeye, there were a few areas with some elevation gain but nothing too severe. It’s a shady area for the most part unlike the ridge of the buckeye which could also get a bit breezy. After about 4 miles we were at the east caney trail head and at the end of our hike. This was our first time to this area and we can’t wait to go back again.

3 days ago

Awesome trail in every aspect. Water level at little Missouri was 3.8 feet and all crossings were manageable, took boots off once really by choice rather than need. Athens-Big fork section...just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Water everywhere! Heavy traffic but everyone was just neat hiker folk. 10/10, would recommend.
Partner and I were not in hiking shape what so ever, we cut the trail at forest road 106, this worked perfect for us as we only had three days to hike. Ran into many other hikers doing the same. Heard that 5th (or 2nd, depending your direction around) is brutal. Cant wait to get up it next time!

Hard. Did it with a 25lb pack, don’t do that.

One of the best sections of the Buffalo River Trail, due to access to river bank, view of historic railroad bridge piers and Red Bluff. Thanks to local citizens who adopt this trail and keep in good shape.

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 this trail the other day. It was a little over 6.5 miles roundtrip taking the Goat Trail to the Big Bluff with around a 1000 ft. descent going in and a 1000 ft. ascent coming back. The trail is an old logging trail and can be rocky at times. The views are definitely worth the hike. The goat trail is narrow, but is not dangerous if you are paying attention. Bringing a lunch and having a picnic at the Bluff is a memory that we will cherish.

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

I'm an average hiker and this trail was challenging coming out of the hollow. It took about an hour to get down to the falls, well worth the time, I must say. It was beautiful!! Short hike to the river to see it's beauty as well. Coming out was tough. Multiple stops to catch my breath, it took me about an hour and forty-five minutes to reach the top. Take plenty of water and a snack.

7 days ago

Hiked section 1 from Lake Ft. Smith to Dockery's Gap and loved it. We did the 9 or so mile stretch in a little over 4 hours but didn't stop much. It was fairly cold so we didn't go through too much water, i carried about half a gallon and had some left over but there was plenty of running water to treat and drink if needed. Frog Bayou was about knee high and freezing but luckily i had a towel so i crossed bare foot and dried off before putting my socks and boots back on. Lots of up and downs but nothing too arduous until the last mile or so when there is a good climb back up to Old Locke Road (FR 1007). Overall it was a great hike with lots to see and I can't wait to get back out there and hike the rest of the OHT.

I love this trail. Hard enough to make you have to rest but not impossible i would stay away from in the hotter parts of the year if your not in really good shape. Plus jb trading post is real close to the trailhead. Really cool store with really staff.

8 days ago

Excellent and tough. The lack of switchbacks made me ache. My quads complained on the ascents and my ankles on the descents. Me and my nephew went with our hammocks and had a very pleasant and chilly night. Dropped into the low 30’s, but no complaints here. Everything was crossable. Overall, it was a very nice three days. We’ll be back.

11 days ago

Did the Loop 1st week in March 2018 right after a bunch of rain had swamped most of Arkansas. We arrived late Thursday night and decided to hit trail going Counter Clockwise from Little Missouri Falls. We made a quick camp along the river around 2:30 am about a mile from the start. My friend and I both went with Hammock's this trip and got COLD on this short night. We basically just set up our hammocks without tarps or under quilts and we paid the price on this chilly damp night. We got up early and hit the trail towards the Mountains. We stopped at Spirit Rock to take in the view and ran into a couple guys who had camped at top of the Mountain. They said they got cold as well that night. We took our time going up and over each Mountain and rested when it was needed. Our destination for our camp this night was Eagle Rock Mountain. We ran into another group of guys who were going clockwise and warned us about the River crossing around Winding Stairs. They had made it across but said it was kind of iffy. They asked if we were going to cross it today and told them not till tomorrow. We all agreed that we thought we water would be lower the next day, our hope anyway. We stopped for extra water before making our final climb to Eagle Rock. We made it to the top of Eagle Rock around 4:00 pm and set up our camp. It was a beautiful night with a Clear Cold night and a Full Moon out. Had a nice fire to keep us warm and listened to the Coyotes throughout the night. My chocolate Lab had her own little tent which I had packed for her and she paid no mine to the coyotes that only got closer as the night worn on. We all slept much better this night with tarps and quilts added to the Hammocks. Got up, enjoyed a beautiful Sunrise, ate breakfast,and then came off Mountain headed towards Viles Branch. Starting running into a few more folks and all said the River was low enough now for a safe crossing. Made our way through Winding Stairs and then onto Albert Pike Mountain. We detoured to the top to look for Window Rock, which we did not find. Turns out we were right on top of it but never took the trail down to access it. Next time I will find it! Came off Mountain and walked through Albert Pike area and made camp along the Little Missouri River and Long creek intersection. Had another great Warm night in our Hammocks with a million stars out this night as well. Got up early the next morning and hiked the final 6 miles to the truck at LMF. This was my 3rd time to do the Loop. It does not get any easier, suppose age might have something to do with it. But, can't wait to do it again next year. Awesome trail!

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!

This hike was difficult! Downhill to get there and uphill the entire way back. Make sure to go when hemmed in Hollow falls are actually running. Otherwise it won’t be a worthwhile pay off

This is one of my favorite hikes in the Buffalo. It’s view is stunning. The hike is difficult but so worth the effort! You can continue the trail down to the river but sometimes it’s closed so beware!

Had a wonderful hike down to the falls and slightly more intense hike back up to the trailhead. I was worried initially as the forecast called for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 40s, but there was plenty of sun and the cool temps made for a pleasant hike. Was warned here and by other reviews to be adequate prepared, such as taking plenty of water and dressing appropriately (layers)...etc. The trip down only took me about thirty minutes and I had nice lunch alongside the falls. The trip back up took about an hour and fifteen minutes, due in large part to my frequent stops. I haven’t been that out of breath in quite a while. I kept telling myself that every step was one step closer to the trailhead, which I was grateful to finally see. Only encountered five other hikers while I was there, but wasn’t expecting it to be very crowded at this time of year.

15 days ago

Great trail if you live within four hours or so for a nice weekend escape. Lots of spiders in the late summer but great fall and spring temps.

One of the best hikes I've been on in a while! There are a couple care packages we left out there! If you find them let me know!

Did this a few years ago while working EMS. Unfortunately, we had to rescue a hiker from the waterfall. All I remember was it middle summer, hot and at night and about 12 guys carrying a patient. I do look forward to doing it again, but in the daytime and with just my pack.

Thru hiked 125 miles of this trail. From fort smith to Fairview mountain what a journey. So beautiful although very secluded which is what makes it so great but also sucks when you forget important things or need to shower but we made it work! Never saw another hiker on the trail but the campsites were an awesome tool. Definitely recommend a map that has the campsites on it. We went at the end of September and first week of October, weather was perfect with only one day of rain!

One of my favorite hikes in the area, definitely more strenuous however totally worth the view once you reach the waterfall; also this hike connects with the goat trail which I would suggest doing if you’re trying to extend your hike and also see another amazing view from the goats tail.

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

Down the entire way to the goat trail and bluff so be prepared for that! Some of the descents (and eventually ascents) are steep and the rainy weather makes them all that much more difficult but not bad at all and very doable! I’m not in shape and I only had to take a break once at the very end.

The scenery is nice on the way to the goat trail, but the goat trail is gorgeous and makes the whole trip worth while and then some! Highly recommend. We stopped and spent a good amount of time at the end and still got back to the car in 3.5 hours.

Great trail, Good first backpacking experience, lots of spiders and webs along the trail when i came through but hey its nature! will definitely come back!

The hike was absolutely gorgeous! It has rained four days very heavily before I went on this hike and it was very muddy! The falls was raging and it was such a gorgeous place to sit and have lunch. The walk back up was exhausting and now I’m walking like a baby deer but it was all so worth it!

One of the best

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