Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hawksbill Crag

From the Boxley Valley Baptist Church, we drove onwards towards Hawksbill Crag. My Aunt was driving down to meet us at the trailhead, so we drove off to get there in time. The drive up to Hawksbill Crag is interesting, to say the least. To get there from Boxley Valley, you turn off onto a dirt road called Cave Mountain Drive. The road runs alongside the Buffalo River, but then steeply runs up Cave Mountain.

And I do mean steep, the road heads up at a crazy angle before finally leveling out at the top of the mountain. Along the way we passed a group of birdwatchers who had randomly stopped their cars in the middle of this narrow dirt road, and a large group of them were standing in the road. We slowly drove by as they gave us weird looks, offended that we would dare drive down the road.

After six miles of bumpy dirt roads, we finally made it to the Hawksbill Crag trailhead. I was amazed that there weren't any other cars parked there already. This is a popular trail, and I've never seen this parking lot empty before.

My Aunt soon drove up and we started on the hike. The trail is short, just 3 miles round trip to the crag and back. The woods here were damaged in the ice storm a few months ago, and there were several fallen trees along the trail. But this is such a popular trail that there were already well-worn detours around the downed trees.

The trail heads down a hill, and then crosses a creek with a small waterfall on it. Then the trail runs alongside the bluffs, providing some great views of the Ozark Mountains.


Eventually the trail reaches Hawksbill Crag, a sandstone rock outcrop that juts out 100 feet above the Whitaker Creek drainage below.

One example of the damage from the ice storm was this pine tree, which fell and dangled precariously over the bluff.

I was amazed that we were the only people out there. This is a popular trail, and I've never been here without seeing other people out on the crag. It was odd to be here without anyone else around.

Hawksbill Crag is said to be the most photographed natural feature in Arkansas. But I have to call shenanigans on that claim. There are a few other places that are bound to have more photos taken of it, like Pinnacle Mountain or Cedar Falls at Petit Jean Mountain. Hawksbill Crag is a beautiful spot, but Pinnacle Mountain and Petit Jean Mountain are much easier to get to. But that morning at Hawksbill Crag, there wasn't anyone out there keeping tabs on how many pictures we took.

We had spent a few hours out there, and I was still amazed that we hadn't seen anyone else hiking out to the crag.

This is the view of a small point on the other side of Hawksbill Crag. That gap in the rocks on top of the bluff is big enough that you can stand between them (I did).

We stood on the crag, looking at the Ozark Mountains spreading out before us. It is an amazing spot, and with an awesome view! We packed everything up and headed back to the trailhead. We soon began seeing people, large groups of them heading to the crag. I was glad that we got there early enough to have all of Hawksbill Crag to ourselves.

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