Four months ago, Eric and I took a weekend trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for one last hurrah just before his knee surgery. The surgery would leave him unable to walk for two months and unable to hike for even longer. We had our hearts set on the well-known Centerpoint to Goat Trail, a 5.9 mile out and back trail whose destination is a famously breathtaking view of the Buffalo River.
Although there are several ways to reach Goat Trail, which follows along the edge of Big Bluff, Centerpoint Trail is arguably the most popular route. AllTrails rates this trail as hard; however, I would argue that it is more of a moderate hike. The trail is rocky, and the way back is almost entirely uphill, but it is a trail accessible to most hikers — just make sure to wear sturdy shoes.
When we set out in the morning, there was rain in the forecast. Being from St. Louis, where the weathermen are always predicting rain that never comes, we simply packed our raincoats and hoped to finish the hike before the storm came in. However, the thunder started shortly after we hit trail.
The hike down to Big Bluff is relatively easy, though rocky. It is downhill almost the whole way, and we ran into plenty of other hikers already headed back from the cliff. After about 2.6 miles, you’ll reach a clearing with a campfire ring, where you will want to hang a right to take Goat Trail along the edge of Big Bluff. Centerpoint Trail continues straight here if by chance you are uninterested in the view from the cliff.
It is important to note that Goat Trail is not a place for those afraid of heights. This section of the hike follows a narrow path along the edge of Big Bluff, with a very steep and long drop-off to the Buffalo River below. This trail is also not a place for young children.
That being said, the view from Goat Trail down into the valley below is utterly stunning and well worth the hike. As long as you are mindful of the ledge, most hikers will have no trouble enjoying this view safely.
Shortly after our arrival at Big Bluff, it became quite clear that a storm was rolling in, and fast. The sheer face of a cliff is certainly not where you want to be during a thunderstorm, so we and some fellow hikers found shelter in a hollowed-out part of the cliff nearby, hoping to wait it out. Unfortunately, after checking the radar, it seemed the storm would be raging for a while once it started, so we and the others started to high-tail it out of there. The rain started shortly after, turning the trail into a muddy stream and completely soaking us by the time we got back to the car.
It poured the entirety of the hike back to our car, ironically ceasing only once we arrived at the parking area. Despite the wet and cold end to our hike, the view from Big Bluff was well worth it. We hope to get to hike Goat Trail again sometime when the weather is better, and we have more time to enjoy the view.
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