Hike Date – September 22 – 23, 2012
After the last hiking attempt, we opted to head out on a dog-free backpacking trip which means enjoying the wonders of the Buffalo National River. The weather was perfect, no chance of rain…70’s during the day, 50’s at night.
The hike – Centerpoint Trailhead to Big Bluff, camp by the river, see Granny’s cabin and head back the next day.
The hikers – Shelley, Stuart, and Craig
This particular route is about 4 miles out and back. The crown jewel is the awesome view from Big Bluff. There is a trail about 300 feet above the river that hugs the side of the bluff leading to a natural rock shelter that overlooks the Buffalo River. The view is astounding and the acoustics are amazing. The only trick is overcoming the elevation change, which is approximately 1,200 feet down and then back up.
It was not too bad heading down into the river valley. The grade was steep, but the trail is really an old county road, so there wasn’t much of a chance of getting lost. We met with several other small groups in the area who were all out to enjoy the beautiful weather.
The trail out to BigBluff is the ‘Goat Trail’. I don’t believe it’s maintained by the park, but it’s certainly well-used. It gets a little sketchy in some spots, but I managed to not slide down the bluff. Since I was minus my little buddy Buster, I was able to stop and get some amazing shots of the river. The spot where we were is 300 feet above Buffalo River and looks across to Fisher Point. We could hear horses somewhere, but when they finally appeared, they were tiny dots by the river.
After spending some time enjoying the view (which included a huge bird making great lazy circles…maybe a hawk?), we headed back up the goat trail and took a right to head down into the river. The river was extremely low. We found a great campsite next to a pool of water next to a beautiful bluff. Normally, I think this spot would be underwater, but it was a good place to set up a tent and check things out.
Camp was pretty uneventful, the most outstanding (and strange event) happened after the sun finally set, when only the campfire and the moonlight lit the bluff across the river. No sooner were the words, “I wonder if we’ll see any critters tonight” were uttered when arose a ruckus in the brush behind the tents. A few tense moments later, a pig walked into camp. I thought it was an armadillo, encouraged by the frequent suggestion that it must be an armadillo. Turns out, it was a pig. Which, after I squealed, “It’s a pig!” and jumped up, it squealed and ran off. Now, I’ve seen the hog hunter show on t.v., but this pig looked like Babe, not a razorback. No doubt, one can imagine the excitement that ensued by this unwanted visitor, however I’m happy to report that the pig nor his mother returned to harry us that evening.
The next day, we ate breakfast (twice), and headed back up the hill. We stopped on our way out to visit Granny Henderson’s cabin then began the long trudge back up the hill. We met lots of groups going back up. We finally made it in a few hours (give or take 45 minutes) and made it home before dark.
See the rest of the pictures here.