Eye of the Needle

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smalleye-of-the-needle-2I made the trek to Eye of the Needle near the Buffalo River this past weekend. The water was flowing great thanks to thunderstorms earlier in the week. I have often heard about this location but have not been able to figure out quite how to get there. There are a number of routes, none of them easy. Had I not run into hikers on the trail I no doubt would have missed it this time.

From Kyles Landing at the Buffalo River there is a trail that follows the Buffalo River toward Steel Creek then breaks off toward Indian Creek. You basically follow Indian Creek all the way to the Eye of the Needle but the word “basically” is an understatement. I bought a pair of cheap water sandals at Walmart before leaving town this weekend and they were the best gear investment I have made for some time. The easiest route is to literally walk in the creek as much as possible. There is a trail along the sides of the creek that weaves back and forth across Indian Creek but it was very muddy and often difficult to locate after the recent rains. You will do a lot of climbing and circumventing boulders on your way to the end of Indian Creek. It is a grueling trek. Just about the time you think you must have missed the turn off for the Eye of the Needle you are about halfway.

Indian Creek ultimately ends at the canyon wall, one of those giant bluffs that the Buffalo River is renowned for. At that wall you will see Cave Falls (a waterfall pouring out of a giant square cave). I will have a separate post featuring that one. Then there is another falls just ahead. Someone told me that it is Copperhead Falls but I haven’t confirmed that yet. This second falls actually comes out of cracks in the bluff wall. As you stand along the bluff line of Indian Creek so you can see both of these beautiful waterfalls you will find a rope tied to a small tree directly behind you. This is the marking for the path up to the Eye of the Needle. You have to climb this treacherous slope (crazy treacherous)! At the top of the slope you will be halfway up the bluff wall. Don’t look down! Now crawl along the edge of the bluff wall and you will find a cave.

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This is incredibly dangerous terrain. I have heard that this is one of the hot spots for search and rescue every year. Definitely not a place for kids. While was shimmying along the bluff walls I was not sure that this was a place for adults.

Go through the cave and then climb down onto the other side of the bluff wall into an otherwise hidden canyon. You will continue to follow the creek (which is now above what was Copperhead Falls). Eye of the Needle is at the end of the canyon there. Once you get through the cave it is a little more than a very slow quarter mile to the Eye of the Needle.

The thought that kept pervading my mind as I climbed this bluff wall and shimmied through the cave was “How in the world did they first find this place?” If anyone knows the answer I would love to hear the story. I can’t stress enough that this is dangerous terrain. The shot is worth the trip but just barely!

4 Responses

  1. toellner

    Great shots of the eye of the needle.

    My understanding is that they way people USED to get to the eye of the needle was by climbing through the cave that Tunnel Falls comes out of but after the cave was closed due to White Nose Syndrome and the concern for bats, the alternate route was explored. Your description helps confirm why I’ve always headed back after getting to Tunnel Falls.

    I also don’t think the waterfall at the back of the canyon by Tunnel Falls is Copperhead Falls. Copperhead falls is actually downstream from this area a bit. I’ve never seen the canyon falls named anywhere, although it’s one of my favorites in the upper buffalo area…

    April 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    • mid south hiker

      Thanks! Tunnel Falls makes a lot more sense. I think I got some shots of Copperhead falls too but didn’t know what I was shooting. Will post some pics later this week.

      April 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm

  2. toellner

    The only time we’ve been back there I completely missed Copperhead Falls. I’m not sure if it was way below when we were up on the bluff, or if the water was running so high we didn’t notice it as a waterfall. But this is a great area, but yeah, it’s a bit treacherous to get back to Tunnel falls, so I hate to think what the treacherous part is like :)

    April 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    • mid south hiker

      Walking up through the creek certainly made it easier to find the hot spots in my mind. I identified Copperhead Falls and I definitely got some pics of it that I will be posting. Unfortunately the sun was directly overhead so they are not the best shots.

      April 9, 2014 at 1:39 am

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