Friends and family ask me all of the time for recommendations on places to explore around the Ozarks. One that I can't help but share is Indian Creek. This day hike is located in the heart of the Buffalo National River recreation area and is one of those places that no one expects to exist in Arkansas.
As we emerge into mid Spring, the ferns have opened fully into vibrant shades of green, and we find ourselves in search of the perfect places for soaking in nature's glory within the hills of the Ozarks. Indian Creek is the spot. What makes Indian Creek so special? First and foremost, it hosts the “Eye of the Needle,” a gigantic geological formation that has to be seen to be believed. Not only does the hike culminate into beautiful features like the Eye, along the way the creek itself boasts a series of aqua-marine pools, slot canyons, waterfalls, and countless caves.
How do I get there? The Indian Creek trailhead is located in the Kyle’s Landing Recreation Area along the Buffalo National River. Kyle’s itself is located approximately 90 minutes east of the Fayetteville/Bentonville area (see “Pro Tips” below for trail GPS coordinates) via highway 412.
What can I expect? Besides the gorgeous natural features, you can expect a 4-5-mile round trip trek, about 700 feet of elevation gain, and lots of scrambling through the wet and mossy terrain. It should be noted that Indian Creek has a very high rate of sprained ankles and falls due to the nature of hiking a creek bed. So expect to endure an intermediate to difficult hike depending on your skills and abilities.
What do I need? This hike is a traditional day hike meaning it will take somewhere in the 3 - 6-hour range depending on how leisurely your pace, or how many pictures you want to take. Bring a small backpack filled with extra layers (think rainwear and insulation), some snacks, a headlamp, and water. If you have waterproof footwear or ankle protection it is highly recommended.
When should I go? Indian Creek can be hiked year round depending on the weather or your ability to fight your way through vegetation. I think the best seasons are Fall and Spring. With the higher levels of rainfall, the waterfalls and pools will be filled to the brim. The cooler temperatures make the hike much more enjoyable and the radiant spring greens are absolutely stunning from the top of the needle.
What are you waiting for? Make it a day, mark your calendar, and be rewarded by one of Arkansas' Hidden Gems.
Trailhead Location: 36.051246, -93.285001
Camping: Kyle’s Landing Recreation Area