|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Lost Valley is a great little campground tucked away between Boxley and Ponca near the upper end of the Buffalo River in Northern Arkansas. Campsites are primitive, and hiking is relatively easy yet stunning. As the family-friendly trail meanders along Clark Creek for a mile or so, its treasures unfold one after another.
First, Clark Creek - a postcard-worthy Ozark mountain stream with just enough rocks to let you cross back and forth with ease. Next, a natural bridge where part of the creek goes under a massive rock formation. Then, the Lost Valley itself - consisting of Cob Cave and Eden Falls. Cob Cave is what happens when a giant (and I do mean giant) hand scoops out a hollow at the base of the towering cliffs. Eden Falls is what happens when Clark Creek takes a flying leap over those same cliffs.
Just when you think it can't get any better, the trail crosses back over the creek and takes off up the mountain toward the top of the falls. It then follows the creek just a short distance to where the creek suddenly disappears into the rock face. A short crawl into the cave on hands and knees is all that is needed to enter the waterfall chamber, where you can see the water running spring-like from the top of the cavern. (Keep crawling! The waterfall chamber finally opens up to a 20' dia x 30' high room!)
The trail is extremely flat for about half the distance. The other half is extremely up and down with some moderate rock scrambling. It wasn't too tough for my four-year-old, though. It took our family about two hours to hike round trip, but we could have easily spent all day exploring and enjoying this refreshing natural area.
There is a $10/night camping fee from mid-March through mid-September.
As always, Tim Ernst's guide book, Arkansas Hiking Trails, is indespensible.
All in all, Lost Valley is an excellent place to camp for the night and spend the day hiking with the kids.