Lost Valley Park, Arkansas
Buffalo National River
I always enjoy an easy trail that leads to something rewarding, like a viewpoint or waterfall. But instead of just one attraction, the trail into Clark Creek Hollow (a.k.a. the "Lost Valley") offers up several worthwhile destinations, including a natural bridge, a waterfall, and a cave.
Lost Valley State Park is located near Ponca, Arkansas, just south of the intersection where Routes 43 joins Route 74.
The trail begins at a footbridge, that crosses Clark Creek. A sign at the trailhead tells you to watch out for the first attraction along the trail -- the Jigsaw Blocks -- which are only about 3/10 of a mile from the trailhead. If I saw the Jigsaw Blocks, I didn't know what I was looking at, so I didn't take a picture.
I did notice some potential trouble along the trail. Look closely at the middle of the picture, and you'll see a small copperhead snake.
Sure, this tree is dead, but it's still remarkable that it's still standing.
The first big attraction on the trail is the natural bridge. It doesn't look like what I expected (I was thinking of natural bridges like this one, or perhaps this one). Instead, this natural bridge looks more like a creek flowing out of the middle of a rock. In order to emerge here, Clark Creek had to carve its way through 50 feet of limestone.
Nearby, a tree grows out of solid rock.
From the natural bridge, the trail climbs up these rocky steps.
Watch out for snails!
Further up the trail, the path splits. You can go downhill to Eden Falls, or continue on the high road towards Eden Falls Cave.
40-foot-tall Eden Falls makes a lovely descent into a small hollow. It's a quiet and relaxing spot, where you can sit on a rock and enjoy the solitude.
You can go back the way you came, or climb up the hill for another nice view of the waterfall through the trees. Once you return to the main trail, you can turn left to return to the trailhead, or right to continue on to the cave.
I decided to skip the cave, in order to not fall behind in my schedule. If you decide to hike all the way to the cave, be sure to bring a flashlight. There's another waterfall inside the cave, but you have to crawl inside -- beyond the point where sunlight can reach.
Lost Valley Park is part of the Buffalo National River area, which is administered by the National Park Service. As you'd expect, there are plenty of fishing, boating, and camping opportunities along the river. Check out the NPS website for more information.
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