Backpack to the Natural Bridge

Rate this Adventure Haw Creek Falls Campground

Distance

8 Miles

Activities

Camping, Fishing, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

Skill

Beginner

Season

Spring, Autumn, Winter

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

John Chau

Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Backpacking to Natural Bridge is a quiet, serene trip without a lot of hikers. You'll hike along clear water where you'll see plenty of wildlife including boar and elk and come across some great fishing spots.

After you drive across the one-lane bridge and take the dirt road immediately after it, follow that dirt road until it begins to bend to the left. Park your vehicle in the turnoff on the right, and be sure to lock it and take (or hide) any valuables in it. Even though it’s relatively remote, random ATVs will occasionally whizz by (illegally), and since they’re already illegally driving around, they might be doing other things out there like breaking into your vehicle so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Trek along the footpath that goes northeast along the trail, alongside the creek. The trail will go through Hurricane Creek, so be sure to have sandals or shoes that can get wet to cross it. Regain the path once you get to the other side and follow it as it winds its way towards where it will eventually connect with the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT).

Be on the lookout for elk, deer, and wild boar! You’ll rapidly gain elevation before the trail flattens out. Follow it past the junction with the OHT (keep that junction in mind though as you will come here the next day) until just best before you reach the Natural Bridge (which has a sign telling you it is the Natural Bridge).

Set up your camp below the overhang where several campsites have been established, including one with a nice fire ring and stone chairs.

The Natural Bridge is a large rock formation that towers above you, and if so you desire, you can follow the overhang/rock wall around to the east where you’ll find a small path that leads up and along the ridge above you. This requires some free climbing, so be cautious if you do this!

Follow the trail back toward the right alongside the 100 foot drop-off (don’t do this with small children!) and you’ll soon come to a spot where you can get down on top of the Natural Bridge. You’ll get a nice view of the surrounding Ozarks from here. When you head back, you’ll need to downclimb where you climbed up, and take note that the rock is usually quite slippery!

Fresh water can be collected at either of the waterfalls that trickle down or by going on a short hike across the path and down to the creek. Fishing down at the creek is usually great, with large smallmouth bass residing beneath the boulders. The water looks deep, but is relatively shallow so be careful jumping in. Explore the area for the first and second day.

Check out the massive boulders below you (head down to the creek and when you reach the second path that runs right next to the creek, follow it to the right [southeast] until the path ends and there is a huge boulder with amazing jugs to climb).

Towards the early afternoon of the second day, move your campsite down the river by going back the way you came (go south) and taking the almost-hidden OHT path to the left (soon after walking past the small creek that trickles over the path) down to Hurricane Creek. Once you reach Hurricane Creek, go upstream (north) a ways until you reach the small campsite, complete with fire ring, and set up your tent there for night. Fishing here is decent with a fly rod, as the water is decently shallow.

If you are in the mood for a bit of fun bouldering, wade upstream to the small island-like clump of sand that has a large boulder on it. Evidence of past boulders can be seen by the small remnants of chalk, but it’s a tricky problem, so go ahead and try to send it!

After exploring and having a blast, camp there and then hike back the way you came to where you parked. This is a great way to spend a relaxing 3 day weekend out in the wild without seeing a lot of other people (as opposed to more popular hiking spots in Arkansas).

On the way back, you can do some more fishing at the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Big Piney Creek - simply load your gear back up in your vehicle and follow the bend around to the left where it will end directly at Hurricane Creek. Park somewhere nearby, and wade out into the creek. Take the distance fork that (when looking downstream) is on the right and follow it until you reach Big Piney Creek. The waters of Big Piney are much deeper and the bass are bigger here. Watch out for snakes though! Be sure to stop by Haw Creek Falls on your drive back!

Note:
  • Be careful doing this hike in the summer since poison ivy runs rampant and ticks are everywhere. Fall, Winter, and Spring are much better times to go, although the water will be much colder
  • Hang up your food at night due to black bears in the area

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

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Distance

8 Miles

Activities

Camping, Fishing, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

Skill

Beginner

Season

Spring, Autumn, Winter

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

John Chau

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