We invite you to explore the Buffalo River area by traveling our winding roads past beautiful scenery, historic locations, small shops, restaurants, and other hidden treasures of the Ozarks. Although the roads do not follow alongside the river itself, there is still much to appreciate. As you enter, leave, and enter again the boundaries of the National River, you will see the connection between the river and the surrounding highlands; between the towering bluffs and deep hollers; and between the people who call this home and the special place set aside in their midst.
The routes below are described in minimal detail. Not all turns and road numbers are listed. Therefore a good map that indicates county roads is recommend to supplement the maps. Compton and Boxley Valley Approximately 15 miles, one way Route: Compton (Highway 43, approximately 15 miles south of Harrison) to Boxley Bridge (approximately two miles south of the Highway 43/21 junction) For adventurous hikers, Compton marks a major trailhead for the Ponca Wilderness. One of the biggest attractions in this wilderness is Hemmed-in-Hollow, the tallest waterfall between the Rocky and Appalachians Mountains. Traveling south on Highway 43, travelers will pass through the community of Ponca, a once thriving mining community. During WWI, the height of the zinc and lead mining operations, miners earned $1.50 per day. At the junction of Highway 43 and 74, a solitary cabin sits as a reminder of days gone by. James Villines, known as Beaver Jim for his renowned trapping ability, grew up in this home. The Villines family is one of the oldest families to have lived in Boxley Valley. From the Ponca River Access, a short hike will take you to the home Beaver Jim lived with his wife until the early 1930s. Beaver Jim died in 1948 and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery beside his wife Sarah. A trail winding through Lost Valley takes visitors to unique geological features including a natural bridge, Cob Cave, Eden Falls, and Eden Falls Cave. Boxley Valley is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the homes and fields of the valley are privately owned, they retain the traditional patterns of the nineteenth century. Erbie Loop Approximately 24 miles, mostly gravel roads Route: Marble Falls (13 miles south of Harrison) to Erbie to Highway 7 and return to Marble Falls - County Road map highly recommended. Marble Falls was once the home of Dogpatch, USA, a theme park that centered around the L'il Abner cartoon series. The park is no longer operational. The road from Marble Falls to the river winds through scenic forest and pastoral lands. About a half mile before the Buffalo River, Cecil Cove Loop Trail allows hikers to follow a nearly seven-mile trail that follows Cecil Creek and loops past an old homestead site and cemetery. After the left turn at the intersection of the Cecil Cove Trailhead, the Erbie Church and then the Rulus Jones Homestead will be visible on the right. The church, along with the nearby school, post office and store formed the center of the Erbie community. The former residents say the church was built in 1896. The church has continued to be available for services to the present time. The homestead, built by Rulus in 1922, shows the evolution from log homes to frame houses. This frame house replaced a log cabin that dated to the late 1830s. After the river crossing, the Parker-Hickman home is one of the oldest structures standing in the Buffalo National River. In the late 1830s, Alvin Parker and his brother Greenberry arrived from Tennessee and built a home here using the nearby red cedar trees. Joining the hand-hewed logs with half dovetail notches, the Parkers crafted one of the finest log houses in the Buffalo River valley. The Cedar Glade Picnic Area is located near the Henry R. Koen Experimental Forest. This picnic area overlooks the river and has an accessible trail leading to South Pond and a fishing dock across the road. A non-handicapped accessible hiking trail leads to North Pond and a 0.4-mile trail connects the ponds. The Koen Interpretive Trail (accessible) leads through the Henry R. Koen Experimental Forest, which was established in 1950. Over 34 species of trees and plants have been designated along its loop. Trail guides are available at the Pruitt Ranger Station and the Forest Service Office in Jasper. Ozark Campground was once owned by the Shaddox family who planted the fertile valley with peas and corn. Today, it is a popular spot for camping, swimming, and canoe access. Buffalo Point and Beyond Approximately 38 miles, some gravel roads Route: Caney (10 miles south of Yellville) to Maumee, to Rush, to Buffalo Point, and to Dillard's Ferry From Caney to Maumee, many open pastures can be seen. The North Arkansas Mining Company developed the area known as Maumee in the late 1890s for the purpose of mining zinc ore. The company's land surveyor named the area for the Maumee River in Ohio near which he was raised. The peak mining activity was during World War I. Now this area is a popular put-in point for canoeists. The crushing mill foundations and the entrance to the Maumee Mine can be seen along the road to the canoe launch, just outside of the park boundary. When zinc ore was discovered on Rush Creek in the 1880s, a community developed to support the influx of workers. By the 1890s, the mining boom was well established and miners and investors arrived from all over the country. It was written that so many people came that local farmers could not keep the town supplied in fresh meat and eggs. Some fifteen mines operated in the Rush District. The most famous mine at Rush was the Morning Star Mine. A quarter mile trail loops through the remains of the Morning Star area. Structures along the loop include the smelter, blacksmith shop, mill and other foundations. A longer trail (approximately 3 miles one way) rises above the valley floor crossing steep, rocky terrain and past mine ruins. Mines are very unstable and entry is prohibited. Trail guides are available at the Buffalo Point Ranger Station. The area known as Buffalo Point was developed through cooperation among the National Park Service, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Arkansas State Parks Commission, and was established as Buffalo River State Park in 1938. All of the Civilian Conservation Corps structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several hiking trails ranging in length from a quarter mile to three and a half miles lead hikers to a scenic vista, caves, a waterfall, and other interesting features. Interpretive programs are given regularly in the summer. Schedules and trail guides are available at the Ranger Station. Doc Dillard built the original ferry (named Dillard's Ferry) with his sons Ira and Pate and W. Davenport in the early 1900s. The old ferry crossing is just a few meters downstream from the present bridge and was in operation until the bridge was completed in 1959. In December 1982 a flood covered the bridge. The river was about 65 feet (19.8 meters) above normal water level, making this the biggest flood in the river's recorded history.