Heading back to Little Rock from Eureka Springs we decided to make a full day of it with a short hike to one of the most iconic places in the state. After a little over an hour of driving through the hills and hollows of the Ozarks we came to Cave Mountain Road, just off highway 21. A dirt road that starts beside the Buffalo River in Boxley Valley and heads straight up Cave Mountain.
After a little over 5 miles on the wide but steep road we came to our destination, Whitaker Point. Whitaker Point is known for a large rock outcrop known as Hawksbill Crag. There seems to be some argument as to the actual name, Whitaker Point or Hawksbill Crag (I’m sure several people will set me straight but none will agree). I think of the Point as being that area that overlooks Whitaker Creek below and the Crag as being the rock formation that exists at Whitaker Point. The 1.5 mile (3 mile round trip) trail to the crag starts across the road from a small parking area and trail sign. You’ll notice a tribute to former Governor and Senator Dale Bumpers at the trailhead. He was instrumental in protecting many of the natural areas in the state.
The Hike to Whitaker Point
The trail goes immediately away from the road and just after a trail register (which was interesting to look at but had no register in it) drops down some switchbacks before leveling out again. The woods were beautiful even in winter and the overcast skies gave an even, comfortable lighting. The trail is well marked and easy to follow making a couple of creek crossings before coming to Haley Falls. As with our hike a couple of days prior at Buffalo Point, we didn’t see much water and the falls were just a trickle.
At the falls the trail goes to the left following the bluff line. Be careful through this section. The trail is badly braided as it winds around rocks and trees and a hiker who is not paying attention can easily find themselves standing at the edge, that is if they stop in time. Seriously, there have been many injuries and even fatalities when visitors got a little to close to the edge. Even when it’s dry the dirt on the rocks can be slippery.
Photo Op at Hawksbill Crag
You’ll know it when you come to the crag, there is no missing it. The moniker, “Hawksbill” is perfectly descriptive. About 50 feet before you get to the crag is the best photographers spot, models don’t need to get close to the edge for a dramatic photo, photographers need to take care with their footing also.
Once we had our obligatory photos we set about the business of the afternoon and spread out our lunch on a nearby rock. As with our Winter hike at Indian Rockhouse Cave, we had the trail to ourselves. I’m sure we would have to share the spot if we were to come back in the Spring and/or Fall to see how much it changes. Our stomachs happy and new memories made, we took a few more photos and headed back to the car to complete our drive home.
My wife and I went there this fall, very nice place and definitely off of the beaten path.
In the first photo of the crag, you can see a house just breaking the horizon on the hill in the background. It’s the ONLY sign of human development visible from this point, most of the view being an official wilderness area (so designated by an Act of Congress). That’s why many are surprised to hear that the structure was built by none other than that ubiquitous celebrator of outdoor beauty, Tim Ernst. But that’s a myth. One that made me harbor some hostility toward the man for quite a spell. But I recently learned that his cabin, “Cloudland,” is nowhere near that horizon– it’s on the same side of the Buffalo valley as is the Crag. You can’t see it from the trail. So disabuse yourself of the notion to abuse good ol’ Tim. He’s a champion of wilderness through and through!
My wife, and I hiked to Hawksbill Crag Nov.1 2021. It was a beautiful hike. She’s 68, and I’m 65, we made the hike very well. We were both pretty tired when we made it back to our vehicle though.