Mini-Vacay to Ponca, Arkansas
Clint and I wanted to do a quick getaway before I started my senior year of college, so we landed on a hiking trip to Arkansas. It was a quick four hour drive from home, and offered a lot of outdoor activities within a close proximity.
Pine Knot Cabin – Jasper, AR
The cabin we stayed in was such a hidden gem! I scoured for so long to find a reasonably priced cabin for the two of us, and honestly don’t know how I found this one hidden away on the internet (I actually had to email the managing rental company to see if they still rented it since I couldn’t find it during my search for this post).
A lot of the cabins in this area are stacked on top of one another, and don’t have a great view; this cabin was the exception to the norm. It was tucked away in the mountain, and overlooked a valley that we had all to ourselves. It was very well maintained, had enough parking for a couple of cars, and the woodwork was beautiful. We spent most of our time at home on the back deck, and enjoyed reading the “house notebook” where visitors documented their favorite parts of visiting the area.
For the most part, we purchased groceries beforehand and grilled at the cabin. My best piece of advice is to purchase ALL of your alcohol before crossing the Arkansas border. Some counties in Arkansas are dry counties, so we had to travel quite a ways to find a bottle of wine one night.
Low Gap Cafe
This was the only restaurant that we visited, and pretty memorable at that. I vaguely remember a banjo player, and I believe a man offered me his shirt because it got chilly that evening. It wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had, but it was nice to not cook for a night and mingle with the locals.
Hemmed-In Hollow Hike – 5 Miles Round Trip
This was the first hike of our trip, and I’m glad we did the longest one first. The hike is downhill the entire way, which is reversed from most hikes and was such a chore to get back up. The best time to visit the waterfalls is during the spring when it has rained steadily. Unfortunately, we visited in early August so the waterfall was nearly dried up. However, it was still a cool site to see and we were the only ones on the trail.
Twin Falls Hike – 70 Yards
This waterfall was such a breeze to get to, after getting down the mountain in the truck. It was such a steep incline that there were allocated areas to stop and let the vehicle brakes cool down.
Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag) Hike – 3 Miles Round Trip
This was our last hike of the trip, and notably our favorite. While it was most heavily populated hikes, I’m glad there were bystanders to take our photo on the outlook.
Ziplining – Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
Horseshoe Canyon was a quick, five minute drive from our cabin, and offered an abundance of “tourist-type attractions.” Their zipline is the longest in Arkansas, but we were honestly looking for more of a thrill. If we were to return, we would probably pass on this activity – but I think it would be a good break from hiking for a family vacation.
Canoeing Buffalo River – Buffalo Camping and Canoeing
I loved this part of our trip! Any other canoe trip I had been on was spent testing my liver, so it was so nice to enjoy a *clean* river and a relaxing float. We were greeting by a few pups at the meeting location (always the way to my heart), and had to be shuttled down the river, since we visited in August and the water levels were lower. I believe we were the only guests to float the day we were there, and only saw a sole kayaker during our float. They said at times you will see elk wading in the water, but we weren’t that lucky.
Elk Sighting – Boxley Valley
Per the recommendations from the “house notebook” at our cabin, we found the honey hole for an elk sighting. Boxley Valley was right around the corner from the Low Gap Cafe that we had dinner at, and sunset was suggested as one of the best times to have a sighting. We got lucky and saw multiple during our driveby!
If you visit Arkansas in the future, I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did!
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