Fayetteville, AR: Indian Creek

A hidden treasure just off the Buffalo National River, Indian Creek's mossy waterfalls and karst canyon are best explored after heavy rains.
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A hidden treasure just off the Buffalo National River, Indian Creek's mossy waterfalls and karst canyon are best explored after heavy rains.

To tackle one of Arkansas’s most intensely beautiful hikes, head away from the Buffalo River, over a rise, and then up a narrowing valley of mossy rock and dense hardwoods--and abundant waterfalls, if you time it right. Water spills over nearly every cliff after a good rain.
Follow trails for the first .5 mile to the creek, then turn south. There’s no trail, but follow the worn path. After another .5 mile, the route will become more demanding and require several creek crossings, scrambling over slick rocks, and a traverse over an exposed bluff (or a bushwack above it) at mile 1.3.
This route ends 2.25 miles at Tunnel Cave and Falls. The trail used to travel through the cave to continue up-canyon, but the cave is closed now to protect its inhabitants, endangered gray bats. Getting to the cave is tricky (and beautiful), but if you’re equipped to climb above the cave, the canyon rewards valor with narrowing limestone walls and still more waterfalls.

Our advice: Due to the exposure and slippery rocks, this trip is for adults, not children. Dogs aren’t allowed.
When to go: Summer brings ticks and snakes, so hike after the first freeze through April.
Mapped by Thomas Soerens

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.3

Waypoints

ICR001

Location: 36.0549850463867, -93.2817764282226

Take trail south and uphill, away from river.

ICR002

Location: 36.0535697937012, -93.2825088500976

Bear left onto Buffalo River Trail; head uphill on old road.

ICR003

Location: 36.0493583679199, -93.2842636108398

Turn left at the bottom of the hill.

ICR004

Location: 36.0489082336426, -93.2839736938476

Continue straight; leave Buffalo River Trail. Head south to follow Indian Creek. There is no official trail, but a well-worn path heads toward the creek.

ICR005

Location: 36.0429306030273, -93.2844619750976

Cross creek; trail follows west bank.

ICR006

Location: 36.0399208068848, -93.285026550293

Cross creek again to clear cliffs on western bank.

ICR007

Location: 36.0389709472656, -93.2857666015625

Leave the creek and head up the steep hill. The "trail" follows a slick, inches-wide bluff, but for a safer option, head further uphill and bushwack parallel to the creek until you've cleared the bluff.

ICR008

Location: 36.0375213623047, -93.2870178222656

Falls pour into Indian Creek from rocky gulch to west.

ICR009

Location: 36.0367698669434, -93.2868881225586

Cross creek

ICR010

Location: 36.0325889587402, -93.2880401611328

Copperhead Falls

ICR011

Location: 36.0290489196777, -93.2879180908203

Bat cave; do not enter. Return to Waypoint 1. (Or, if properly equipped, continue above cave to explore the rest of the canyon.)

Trail in Indian Creek

Location: 36.0396957397461, -93.2851867675781

Indian Creek doesn't have an official trail, but over the years, visitors to this rocky gulch near Buffalo National River have created a path.

Slick Rocks

Location: 36.0380210876465, -93.2864303588867

Indian Creek's mossy, wet rocks can be treacherous, so be careful.

Small Waterfall

Location: 36.0368957519531, -93.2868957519531

Limestone slabs choke Indian Creek into waterfalls of many sizes.

Cliff Cascades

Location: 36.0294342041016, -93.2875747680664

After a significant rain, water pours over many of the cliff faces in Indian Creek.