Hawksbill Crag Geocache
Northwest Arkansas
Our First
Driving Northwest Arkansas   

Larry and I have always enjoyed exploring northwest Arkansas. Larry was born in the area near Leslie, and we were married outside Eureka Springs at the well-known Thorne Crowne Chapel - - the 'glass chapel in the woods.' We first hiked the Hawksbill Crag Trail several years ago and always planned to return. This time, we thought placing a geocache was a perfect excuse for a winter hike (Note - - most of these are new photos taken on a return visit, September 2002). With clear skies and a temperature of 65 degrees F, it seemed more like spring than January.
To get to the hike and geocache, drive down Highway 43 from Harrison and continue through Ponca through the Boxley Valley area. Head south on Highway 21 for 1.2 miles. Just before the bridge across the Buffalo River, turn right onto the gravel road called Cave Mountain Road. This road starts with a curving drive up the steep side of a mountain. Fun! You don't need a four-wheel drive, but the road can get bumpy.
The hiking area is part of the Ozark National Forest near the Buffalo River. Drive 6 miles (from the turn off Highway 21) to the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area parking lot on the right. As a reference, you'll pass the Cave Mountain Church and cemetery on the right at 5.4 miles.
Hiking Hawksbill Crag Trail
The next phase of your adventure leads you down a well-marked trailhead (N 35 54 100 W 93 27 617). Cross the street from the parking lot and you'll see the trailhead. The hike from here is about 3 miles "out and back." A few feet down the trail, you'll find a sign-in sheet for wilderness hikers.
After a few switchbacks you'll come to the first of many tiny stream crossings. They were flowing during the winter, but may dry up in the summer. The light green and blue lichens and mosses could really be seen without the undergrowth, bushes, and trees that fill the landscape in the summer months.

At about a mile, you'll cross a small creek and see a fork in the road. Either way works. If you go to the left, you head uphill and walk across a ridge and onto the bluffs area. If you walk to your right, you'll get to see a couple waterfalls along the trail. The hike continues around the crest of the cliffs. If you've got small children, you might consider the woods hike rather than the cliffs. Either way and you'll end up at the Hawksbill Crag overlook. It's also known as Whitaker's Point. This huge rock outcrop extends over the edge of the bluff. The photograph above was taken from a viewpoint just before reaching Hawksbill Crag. You may have seen the photo before. Similar shots are on the cover of several Arkansas hiking books and postcards.


When you get to the overlook, spend some time enjoying the great view of the Whitaker Creek Valley. Because we placed the cache on a winter weekday, the area was quiet except for a couple of campers. You could hear the wind rustle in the dried leaves of the oak trees. The smell of pines and cedars was everywhere. Be sure to keep your eye out for wildlife. We saw deer along the road on the way to the trail. Cliff swallows and red-headed woodpeckers were a couple of the birds we saw. In addition, we saw lots of small creatures such as spiders, mice, and squirrels - - and this was on a warm January day.

Placing the Geocache
Since this is a popular hike, we decided not to place the cache right at the overlook. Instead, we did some exploring and found a great lookout point away from the potential crowds.
We got out our GPS device and checked the location. The cache is at N 35 53 475 W 93 26 389. Since it's winter, the GPS had no trouble reading in the woods. However, we envision this might be a problem in the summer, so we also did a reading at the Hawksbill Crag Overlook. The waypoint for that is N 35 53 457 W 93 26 426.
The cache contains a log book, trashbags, a camera, and a travel bug named
Marti Maverick. The treasures include 2 stuffed beanies (chicken & iguana), hacky sack, 3 toy cars, 1 windup bug, 2 plastic frogs, 1 snake ball, 1 pair of dice, 2 key rings (measuring tape & car), 3 gems (turtle, alligator, canoe), and a climbing clip.
Don't read this section if you don't want to learn the cache location hints. You'll have to go on down the trail, past the crag, less than 100 paces. The cache is located between the trail and the bluff, close to the edge. We found a great spot between two boulders (One of them is very large) under a fallen log. In the picture below, Larry is placing some rocks around the cache to keep it well-hidden from everyone but geocachers.
Exploring the Geocache
We have a few suggestions if you want to visit the geocache.
1) This is a great area for picnics. Be sure to bring a lunch to eat at the Hawksbill Crag overlook.
2) You might also try overnight tent camping in the area. There are a couple of campsites up the hill from Hawksbill Crag overlook. Register for overnight and observe the regulations for campfires.
3) There are a number of places where the trail crosses tiny creeks... it can get slippery in winter and spring. Be careful.
4) Also be careful not to get too close to the bluffs, it can be windy and slippery.
5) The trail starts out downhill, so remember that you have to return back uphill. It's pretty easy going, but keep it in mind when you're planning.

We hope you enjoy our second geocache! :-)
If you're interested in checking out other area hikes, check out the Ozark Mountain Hiking Page.
Go to the Hawksbill Crag page at geocaching.com for additional details and logs.
Our First

Created by
Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 01/02.