Click here for a Whitaker Point Trail Map
3 Miles R/T: If Buffalo River lovers were pressed to name their favorite spot, well, this most scenic of Arkansas icons might just take first place.
- A journalist once placed it in her "Best Places in Arkansas to Get Kissed" travel article.
- Disney filmed the opening to "Tuck Everlasting" here.
- We can't begin to count the number of proposals and nupitials this aged, craggy rock has seen.
- World-class photographers have sought to capture it in the prime of every season.
But, for all its fame, Whitaker Point is still "the people's place." Where one can do some soul searching, hang out with old buds and even meet some new ones, introduce the family to their first sight of that inspiring rock or, simply, just dwell and be.
Whatever your motive to be there, the rock does not disappoint. Nor does the trail along the way, as it is flush with wildflowers and a pretty waterfall area in the spring, then graced with the bright oranges and reds of turning maple leaves in the fall. Even in summer, one can hike the trail and enjoy the view over Buffalo River country that awaits at trail's end.
This is a good trail to pack a couple of bottled waters per person, as folks tend to linger along the way and at the crag. A hearty snack is also in order. And a camera is a must, especially if this is your first time to visit Whitaker Point. The best time to photograph the crag is early in the morning (the photo at right was taken about 6:15 AM---not kidding!) or mid- to late afternoon, once the sun is behind you.
About half-way to the crag you'll cross a wet-weather creek where you can choose to go left or right, either of which direction will take you to the crag. Most folks go to the right, where the trail follows the creek for a bit, then turns left at a waterfall ledge. In early to mid-April, watch for the wildflowers, shooting star and fire pink growing along the creek. At the bluffline, look for pink mountain azalea and white umbrella magnolia blossoms to appear later in the month and into early May. At this ledge, the trail now turns and follows the bluffline all the way to the crag. It is quite scenic and there are places that beg you to sit and enjoy the view, even though your final destination is still about 1/3 of a mile ahead. PLEASE BE CAREFUL in this area. A bluffline can be a pretty thing, but also a dangerous one. We cannot stress enough the importance of remaining cautious and staying back from sheer drop offs, as well as keeping a vigilent eye on children, even teenagers.
You'll know Whitaker Point when you see it. Take a few moments to appreciate its grandeur at a distance before hiking on around and stepping out onto the lofty perch it affords.
Please, PLEASE use extreme caution in this area. See that little nose-like nook on the end of the rock? Do not stand or sit here. It slopes downward more than it appears to and is very narrow---the precipice can send you into a vertigo spin in a heartbeat. Also, Whitaker Point (and anywhere along the surrounding bluffline) is not a place for horseplay. Those with a rambunctious spirit need to humble their hearts and err on the side of safety and conservative behavior. We've seen the tragic end that carelessness or inadvertent misjudgement can bring and we just don't want you or someone you love added to that short, but sad list of victim's names.
Directions from Ponca:
Take Hwy 43 South to Hwy 21. Turn left. Go about two miles to the Boxley Bridge that crosses the Buffalo River. Turn right onto gravel road #9560 and go about 6 miles. About 1/4-mile from the trailhead, you'll pass the Cave Mountain Church & Cemetery on the right. Trailhead parking is limited, so if you're arriving on a Saturday (especially in the spring and fall), expect to have to park along the roadside. When the trailhead parking area is full, thank you for parking your vehicle so that it does not obstruct through traffic.