I love the Buffalo River. If I had my druthers I'd move there in a hearbeat, just living in some remote shanty as long as it was close to all the scenic stuff out there. Of course that shanty would need electricity, running water, and nearby access to a good job. So until then, I'll just have to make do with making the long drive up there when I can.
So last Saturday we set out to visit Hawksbill Crag, a neat place in the Ozark National Forest that sits just beyond the boundary to the National River. The crag is a stunning rock outcrop that shoots out 100 feet over the wilderness below. It sits at the end of a 1.5 mile long hike, which is reached via a sometimes very steep dirt road that starts out in Boxley Valley.
We made the drive up there, and found the trailhead parking lot to be packed with cars. Apparently we weren't the only ones with the bright idea of hiking this trail on a nice autumn day. Cars were jammed into any free space along the road, and we eventually found a place to park along the side of the road. We immediately saw where a lot of the cars were from, a large group of maybe 40 people were finishing the hike when we reached the trailhead. But the hike would be packed with people for the rest of the day.
The trail starts out heading downhill, and we passed a registraion station where someone had left some odd graffitti.
We weren't panicking, but thanks for the warning...
The fall colors in this part of the Ozarks were nice, but still not quite at their peak.
The trail evens out and begins to run along the bluffline. Beyond you have miles of wilderness, with few traces of man's impact there.
As with all my other attempts at getting pictures this fall, it was another sunny day. I would have loved some clouds, or fog, but it was a nice day anyways. Eventually the trail reaches a small outcrop with a large tree growing on it. It is a neat tree, growing on the exposed rock with a spectacular mountain view to enjoy. The tree was bent and weathered, and it holds a lot of personality.
And the tree's view, which isn't too shabby:
We managed to have the great timing to be right behind another large group of hikers. Now remember that this trail runs along a very steep bluff that would be easy to stumble off of if you aren't careful. I was a bit surprised to see some of the hikers in this group carrying cans of beer with them. Beer just doesn't seem to be a good combination with a place where a fall would be fatal. But they were carrying their empties out with them, so good for them.
The large group sat out on the crag posing for pictures, so we waited at another overlook for them to finish. I wanted to get some pictures of the bluff without any people on it, so we had to wait for awhile. While we were sitting there, we started talking with another group of photographers only to find out that they are also members of Flickr. It's amazing what a small world it is.
I began to get annoyed with the large group of hikers occupying the crag. They were being a bit obnoxious. But I'd later find out that the group hiked out there in honor of a friend who had recently passed away, since it was his favorite place. They stood out on the crag and yelled out his name in his honor (at the time I was trying to figure out what they were saying). So I can't really get too annoyed with them, they were out there for a good reason.
But when they finally left, the crag was clear of people.
After that an unspoken agreement was made with people out there. Hikers wouldn't set out on the crag while people took a few minutes posing on the rock. I accidently broke it and unknowlingly strolled out onto the rock to take pictures, only to be chastised by my Aunt for getting in the way of someone's picture. Sorry!
But here is another view of Hawksbill Crag, which has been said to be the "most photographed natural feature" in the state of Arkansas. I'm not sure if that's true. I'd bet Pinnacle Mountain or Petit Jean Mountain get more pictures taken, but who's keeping count, anyways?
From there we made the hike back out to the trailhead. After reaching the car we made the drive back down into Boxley Valley and onto the next destination, Steele Creek...