Saturday morning, early, and we were ready to head out. We had not picked out a destination, and as we drove along the country roads we could see thunderstorms looming. We decided to head for the Center Point Trailhead, and walk down it until we came to the primitive route, then follow that to the bluffs. As we walked along, and down, we could see distant bluff lines and mountains through the leaves of the forest.
The trail down was an old road, quite wide and easy to follow. It was still early in the morning, and the sun was peeking out after the gentle shower and the birds were loudly chattering away. Bill and I quietly made our way and were pleasantly surprised to see a young deer! After walking for an hour, we came to a old campsite, with a fire ring and a post marking the primitive route. We left the trail and followed the primitive route to the bluffs. You can walk this primitive route, all the way down to the river if you want.
After another half hour the primitive route led us along the bluffs. I have always been fascinated with these massive rock formations. Their almost infinite shades of grey and reds and browns intermingled together with the dark green of the forest is simply beautiful. We edged along the trail, noting little features in the rock.
Several times along the way, we stopped for a short rest. The sun had come out and it was starting to heat up. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the high 90's and we were glad we had brought along lots of liquids. Now and then, we could get a clear view of the river below and some familiar landmarks, old homesteads, and other bluffs. After about a half hour, we came to a bluff shelter. We decided to rest here, and have lunch before turning around and heading back uphill. This was a pretty neat area, with a deep shelter that provided plenty of shade, and a pretty good view of the surrounding area. Bill and I got out the beef jerky, peanuts and other goodies plus our All-Sport drinks and ate. After eating we just sat and enjoyed the quiet beauty of the Buffalo National River
I really enjoyed this spot. There was no one else around, and the only sounds we could here were water, birds, and the wind. We did see a lone horseback rider, far below us, following the Old River Trail (now a horse trail). It looked to us like he was headed toward the horse camp at Erbie. A cool breeze kicked up, offsetting some of the intense humidity. At times, Bill and I talked about this trail and others we have been on, and other times we simply sat silent. Time passed and before we knew it, it was about 12:30 in the afternoon. We decided we should probably start the long hike back up to the truck before it really started to get hot.
The Center Point Traihead is located on Hwy 43, on the right hand side of the road, just above Ponca, and directly across from Fire Tower Road. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to the bluff shelter, and about 2 hours to get back up to our vehicle. I estimate the round trip to be about 5 miles. Be prepared for a long climb back up. While summertime might not be the ideal time for this hike. those of you who come in the fall will really enjoy it. You will be above the trees and will be able to see the wide range of colors once the leaves start turning in about 60 days or so.