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The Buffalo National River, one of the few major free-flowing rivers remaining in the Lower 48, weaves between tall limestone bluffs through the Arkansas Ozarks on its way from the Boston Mountains to the White River. Whether you’re hiking along its banks, or floating a canoe down its gentle current, you’ll find relief when the mercury rises with this short detour to an excellent swimming hole on Steel Creek, a tributary of the river’s scenic upper section.
From the trailhead, follow the trail 200 yards to the river. Descend along the limestone bluffs that line the eastern shore to Steel Creek. Hear you’ll find a large, spring-fed pool that’s perfect for a lazy summer afternoon on the water. Large point bars formed in the creek’s inside bends offer plenty of basking space. A canoe put-in and nearby campsites provide a variety of trip options.
Info: swimholes.com/backpacker.htm; nps.gov/buff
-Hike provided by Pancho Doll, author of the Day Trips With a Splash series (Running Water Publications)
- Distance: 0.2
Location: 36.038689, -93.3386421
Steel Creek Campground