I am planning a one-day paddle in Arkansas on the Buffalo River in October. Does anyone have any suggestions on a segment that I could do that is about 15-20 miles in length and scenic? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as there are so many options and I want to make sure that I paddle a great section. Thanks!
Put in at Ponca; take out at Hwy 7 bridge at Pruitt.
Total mileage: approximately 23.5 miles.
Difficulty: Class 1/2 at normal stages
Be aware of: Gray Rock Shoals, about 150 yards upstream of Kyle's Landing.
If at all possible; try to do this section in part of 2 days. If 2 days are not possible; there are takeouts between Ponca & Hwy 7.
Paddling below Ponca you will pass Roark Bluff, and 2 miles below Steel Creek you'll see Big Bluff (500 feet tall). 5 miles from Steel Creek is Hemmed In Hollow, a box canyon with a spectacular 200 foot waterfall(a side trip of less than a mile).
Suggest you check out Buffalo River on internet for additional information. An additional/great source of information is the Arkansas Canoe Club website; some good/knowledgable paddlers there can assist you.
Three cautionary pieces of information:
1. The Buffalo can rise "very rapidly" during heavy rain. Pick your campsite(if you camp) carefully, and have an escape route if rain is in the forecast. You would not be the first to lose their boat & gear, or spend a night in a tree.
2. Carry a net trash bag in your boat, and "use it" for "all" trash. Do "not" take "any" glass containers on the Buffalo river.
(A "hefty" fine for these infractions could ruin your whole trip; do "not" expect rangers to accept any lame excuses.)
3. "No" styrofoam coolers. If you carry a cooler; be sure to secure it from opening, if a capsize occurs.
Take a camera; you'll be glad you did.
P.S. The Buffalo is "rain dependent" year round.
Go to this link, click on message board and go to the kayak forum. Ask there. you will get the best possible information. I use this site to get my information. DrLewall is the expert. Enjoy! Whoops! http://gooutandplay.com/
The best ???
gooutandplay: Lewis & Clark "Outfitter's" website
Their location: Shopping malls
Arkansas Canoe Club: Primarily "paddlers"
Posts: 2,533 (20% of which are by one member)
Arkansas Canoe Club
Check em both out, and decide for yourself who the best is.
Recently paddled Steel Creek to Hasty. Beautiful part of the Buffalo River. Your enjoyment will depend on “ample” water…check out the park’s website to get the range recommended. Wind isn’t a factor, but Bob is right about watching out for bad weather when camping.
The Erbie to Ozark section is not one I would go out of my way to do again. Ozark to Hasty was a nice paddle and I encountered an elk along the shore…that was very cool. My favorite section was Steel Creek to Erbie. I was paddling at the low end of “ample” and that was good fun. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it any lower and I surely would have had to walk my canoe several times.
I had a very full day, but a good day, paddling Steel Creek down to Ozark. A long day, but not too long when the water and weather are right.
There are many sections you can choose from. I had never paddled on “rapids” before and this was a great initial experience for me. Nothing threatening, but thoroughly enjoyable getting in a little practice on class 1 and mild class 2 water.
Given the time of year you are going
I’d suggest that you need to stay downriver of Gilbert. You might have enough water on one of the upper sections–but probably not.
Woolum to Gilbert
Woolum to Gilbert is a good section if the river is low. You’ll walk it very seldom and the bluffs are beautiful. Gilbert to South Maumee is, subjectively, just not as pretty as Woolum to Gilbert. TheBob is right about the upper portions but so is everyone else that is telling you the Buffalo is very rain dependent. If I’m low on water my fallback trip is Woolum to Gilbert. Talk to your outfitter about whether or not you can make this in one day. I do it in 1.5 in low water; with transportation I usually can’t get in until noon on the first day.
Regardless what you choose, it’s a beautiful river in beautiful country. My annual Buffalo River trip keeps my heart happy.