Hawksbill Crag, also known as Whitaker Point, is a must see gem of Arkansas. The crag, though only one point, desires at least half a day of your attention between travel and sight-seeing.
Located near Ponca, just over an hour from Fayetteville, head East on Hwy 45 (20 mi.), then East on 412 (20 mi.). When you come upon Hwy 21 take a right and follow (17 mi.) until you pass two bridges. Just before the third (Boxley Bridge), take a right on a marked gravel road to the trail head. This final road is primarily uphill and if it has rained recently a car with 4x4 capability is recommended. Take this road for 6 miles. Within a mile of the trailhead you will see a church and a cemetery; on a busy day there will be cars parked here along the roadside which will be a solid indicator that you have arrived. If you get there early enough to beat the traffic, the trailhead will be marked by a large boulder next to the parking area. Once you are there, find a spot to park, grab your water and snacks (or picnic!), and head to the marked trailhead that will lead you to the beautiful Hawksbill Crag.
Hike the Trail:
The short trek to Whitaker point is rated on the lighter side of moderate and runs a total of 2.7 miles, there and back. Once to the esteemed destination, you’ll recognize it as a place and experience best shared with friends, loved ones, or even dogs as they’re allowed to roam the trail on a leash. While you’re at it, feel free to bring a hammock or two as there are a couple of trees just off the back of the point that are perfect for hanging and relaxing while you soak up the views. A word of caution though, the drop off of the cliff is a steep one and goes several hundred feet, so be cautious when approaching the edge and sides of the point.
Though the rock that provides the view is a constant, each visit to this extraordinary Arkansas landmark is wildly different from the last. From the people you are with, the plants and rocks on the trail, and the leaves on the trees, this spot in nature is in constant transition. As different trips come and go, the idea of a single spot where one can see so much fluid change while remaining still and taking it in is truly something to behold.
We highly recommend bringing a camera along to capture Hawksbill during the prime times of lighting (sunrise & sunset). Though they can come as early as 6 in the morning, this time is well worth taking advantage of as a sunrise at Hawksbill is a highly coveted experience. The point itself faces south and there are several prime vantage points as far as pictures go to the right of the crag, a little ways down the trail that you came up. Whitaker Point is not the only beautiful part of the area as the whole trail is covered in trees, flowers, and plants depending on the time of year that you go. In heavier watered months, the hike features a creekside trail option that passes by a waterfall. As Arkansas is arguably most vibrant in the final few months of the year, we especially love experiencing Hawksbill in Autumn, as the several hundred foot view spans over a breathtaking forest with every shade of red, orange and green.
This is a calling to go out and safely explore and experience one of the widest and most beautiful ever-changing views that Arkansas has to offer.
Photo shot in the Fall by Ben Matthews