Kings Bluff Trail


One of the pedestal rocks at King's Bluff. For scale, note the uprooted tree at the foot of the pedestal rock at center.

The King’s Bluff hike on the north eastern side of the Ozarks in Arkansas is evidence of how many hidden wonders there are in the state. I had never heard of this place or the little town of Ben Hur that it is its nearest spot on the map and it is a shame that such beauty is missed by so many.

The hike itself is relatively simple, only about 2-3 miles round trip (it is a loop). But it took me around 5 hours to get it done. No, I am not that slow of a hiker. The hike simply offered so many points of beauty that I was stuck stopping inch by inch to get pictures.

The trail head is in a little state park (see the trails page for directions). I took this one in the late spring months and actually missed the trail head once because it was so grown up with greenery. As you hike in it is a pretty easy hike, mostly downhill but not too much of a grade so it is not strenuous coming back. I didn’t know what to expect because once again I had never heard of this place. It is actually part of a double loop, King’s Bluff and Pedestal Rocks. I only did the King’s Bluff part due to spending so much time on the trail. I decided to save Pedestal Rocks for another day.

The trail winds through a wooded area and you begin to wonder if you are going the right way after a while. Then you come upon it. King’s Bluff is a huge rim cliff overlook that descends probably 70-90 feet. When I first arrived to the bluff I was annoyed because there was wooden post fencing along parts of it. I don’t generally like these kinds of intrusive measures of safety on my hikes and prefer a more primitive look. It’s a good idea in this case though. The rim was not that wet but I slipped a lot. The rock up there is very slippery and just a little more water could have made it extremely dangerous. Yeah, the fence was a good idea. I DEFINITELY DO NOT RECOMMEND kids on this hike. You will lose the joy of the bluff just worrying about their safety.

The view off the bluff overlook is fantastic. Due to all the greenery I am bettering there is a lot of view that I was missing this time of year and I plan on going back in the winter. I had timed this hike purposefully after a good rain (recommend you do the same) because I wanted to be sure to see the waterfall. King’s Bluff Falls is sourced from a little stream that flows across the far side of the overlook and then off the sheer drop of the cliff. It was so shallow that I was able to walk across the stream without really getting wet. It’s transformation into a waterfall is deceptive though. It is a much grander water fall than that little stream would lead you to believe. I crossed over trying to find a way down the bluff to the foot of the falls but it looked impossible without rope and repelling.

My hiking partner for the day, Steve, and I headed to the other side of the overlook and found another smaller waterfall nearer the trail. We had our lunch there and surveyed the beauty around us, all the while keeping an eye on possible paths to the foot of the falls. As I ate I thought I had found one and indeed it turned out to be true.

The trail continues after the bluffs. You will almost immediately come to a little U curve in the trail that will have a water fall on it if it is in the wet season. Go through the U and past the end of the fencing. You are basically going to have to spy the way down just like I did because it is not really a marked trail or path but a less restrictive grade slope down into the canyon area below the bluffs. If you can get down there it is worth the trip. The King’s Bluff overlook is great but for my money I prefer the view down at the foot of the cliffs and the falls. There are some awesome rock formations all throughout the area and some great scenery down by the falls. In the King’s Bluff photo gallery will see shots of two waterfalls. Keep in mind the first is the one we ate lunch by and the second is King’s Bluff Falls.

Whenever I see a waterfall on a hike I want to get behind it especially if it is more difficult to get to like this one. I did and sure enough there was one set of foot prints of someone else who had been there but who knows when. That’s one of the things I like about hiking, watching the tracks and considering what went before me or what caused this or that obstacle to take shape on the trail. My mind constantly wanders from the geology and the history of time all around me or the tracks and the story of the people who were on the same path I was maybe an hour or two days or a week earlier.

We spent a couple hours in the canyon and by the falls taking photos. Steve is a professional photographer so hopefully we can get a gallery up of some of his stuff that he got on this hike (hint hint). It will put my galleries to shame.

Moving on from the falls we continued down the trail expecting to go to the Pedestal Rocks loop. For most of the day we actually thought we were on it but found out in the end we were not. The reason we thought we were on it is because the return half of the King’s Bluff loop is loaded with beautiful pedestal rock formation unlike anything I have ever seen in this area of the country. They ranged in shapes and sizes. Some of them looked like mushrooms, others like trees and we were walking on top of them suspended some 50-75 feet above the ground. Adding to that, many of the rock formations were painted with different colors of mosses which made them look even more interesting. We spent more time moving from rock formation to rock formation than we did at the falls. Some had actually formed caves in between them. It was really incredible.

Once again, I had never heard of this place. If this were out west there would be signs leading up to it for hundreds of miles telling how much further until you arrive at King’s Bluff. I guess that’s a good thing. I like discovering the hidden treasures of the trails. Still, too many people are missing out on these great natural wonders that surround us.


2 Responses

  1. Cassandra

    I live around the berryville area… how far away is this from berryville?

    September 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    • mid south hiker

      It’s about 80 miles. The King’s Bluff trail is near Pelsor, AR. It is not part of the King’s River although the name might lead one to believe that.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:24 am

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