How to Hike Centerpoint to Big Bluff (Goat Trail) in Arkansas

Are you looking for an incredible hike with epic views and relatively minimal scrambling in the Ozarks? Then, hike the Centerpoint to Big Bluff (Goat Trail) in Arkansas! Located near Ponca, Arkansas, and within the Buffalo National River National Park boundaries, this incredible 6-mile hike (out and back) has roughly 1,000 feet of total elevation gain along with one of the tallest bluffs in the area. With million-dollar views, you won’t regret your decision to bring your camera (and your sense of adventure) to trek this iconic hike in the Ozark Mountains.

Big Bluff (Goat Trail) Overlook
Big Bluff (Goat Trail) Overlook

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Let’s Clear Up the Trail Name

Before you read any further, we wanted to clear up the trail’s name. There are a few names for hiking to this specific viewpoint in Buffalo National River.

You’ll hear and read the route called different names, but they all mean the same thing!

So, if you see any of the following, you’re in the right place:

  • Big Bluff (Goat Trail)
  • Goat Trail
  • Centerpoint to Goat Trail
  • Centerpoint Trail to Big Bluff
  • Goat Trail to Big Bluff along the Centerpoint Trail

Hiking the Centerpoint Trail to Big Bluff (Goat Trail)

The hike from Centerpoint to Big Bluff starts from the Centerpoint Trailhead outside of Ponca, AR.

It is one of our absolute favorite hikes in the Ozarks (along with hiking the Whitaker Point Trail).

Where is the Centerpoint Trailhead?

The Centerpoint Trailhead is located five (5) minutes or 3.3 miles north of Ponca, Arkansas, off AR HWY 43 N.

Ponca is an adorable mountain town in the middle of (almost) nowhere within the upper Buffalo National River.

Centerpoint Trailhead Map

Once you’ve parked your car, you’ll see the National Park Service trail sign.

You can take a look at the map below before heading out.

There is little to no cellphone reception in the area except at the top of the hill near the trailhead.

If you are not familiar with the area, we recommended downloading maps for offline use or having a topo map (we have this one).

Centerpoint to Big Bluff (Goat Trail) Details

  • Distance: 6 miles round trip (O&B) hike
  • Elevation Gain: 1,076 feet of elevation
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Are dogs allowed: No

Is there a fee to hike: No, there is no entrance fee to enter or hike in Buffalo National River

How Do You Get to Big Bluff (Goat Trail)?

goat-trail-arkansas
Centerpoint to Big Bluff Trail Overlook

To get to the Goat Trail, start the hike from Centerpoint Trailhead.

Head down the gravel path, which turns into an old homestead road covered in leaf litter. This is the main Centerpoint Trail. The main Centerpoint Trail is easy to hike and is through the trees. Follow this old road until you see the first obvious fork to the right.

The fork to the right is NOT MARKED with an obvious trail sign but takes you to the Big Bluff (Goat Trail). From this fork is where the rocky bluff begins – so you can hike to Big Bluff along the Goat Trail.

You’ll know when you get to Big Bluff because the views of the Buffalo are epic!

You can see the Buffalo River Valley and all of its glory.

Other Things to Consider While Hiking the Goat Trail

Goat Trail Hike
Goat Trail Cliff Edge

This iconic hike is located within the Ponca Wilderness, which is a very remote area of Northern Arkansas.

We wanted to share a few things to consider before your trekking journey to stay safe.

  • There are wild boars (we saw them).
  • No bathrooms – prepare and always Leave No Trace.
  • Prepare for no cellphone reception.
  • There are steep cliffs along Big Bluff – use extreme caution.
  • The Bluff trail follows a steep rocky and narrow ledge toward the end of the trail.
  • The hike is not recommended for children or people afraid of heights.
  • The trail is downhill all the way to Big Bluff, so the hike back to the parking lot is all uphill.
  • You’ll probably want bug spray in the summer!
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • If you miss the turn to get on the Goat Trail, the trail will lead you all the way to Compton, Arkansas, which you don’t want to do (unless you plan to). So be sure to plan ahead and have a map.
  • Bring plenty of water and a snack.

Best Time of Year to Hike the Goat Trail in Arkansas

Fall, winter, and spring are excellent times of the year to hike in the Ponca Wilderness. The weather is cooler, there are little to no bugs, and the area is quieter.

We love hiking in the late fall and during the middle of the week to beat the crowds. This is a popular hike and can be pretty busy on the weekends.

What to Bring Hiking

We recommend hiking with comfortable hiking shoes, wool socks, a sun hat, sunglasses, a daypack, and sweat-wicking clothes you can layer.

Wearing layers helps regulate your body temperature when hiking to keep your body warm or cool, depending on the weather.

Get a FREE packing list and gear guide from us detailing exactly what we take on a camping and hiking trip!

Centerpoint to Goat Trail Camping Nearby

There are two (2) campgrounds relatively close to the Centerpoint Trailhead.

Buffalo Outdoor Center – is literally right across the highway. This campground is RV-friendly, clean, has fantastic bathrooms, and is open year-round. The Buffalo Outdoor Center also offers cabin rentals if camping isn’t your cup of tea.

Steel Creek Campground – is managed by the National Park Service. The campground is a tent-only facility. It is open year-round. Running water and flushing toilets operate seasonally. If camping during the winter, there are vault toilets. The campground does not have showers. Make reservations at recreation.gov online or on the app!

More places to camp along the Arkansas Buffalo River (Upper District), here.

Check out our article with FREE apps we use to plan outdoor adventures hiking, camping, and road tripping all the time!

We Are on YouTube! Hike Centerpoint to Goat Trail

Check us out on YouTube!

We love creating short videos so you can visualize the trail conditions before your trip.

Check out our channel to get outdoor adventure inspiration!

YouTube video

Final Thoughts on Hiking to Big Bluff (Goat Trail)

If you love hiking in the wilderness, then you’ll love hiking the Centerpoint Trail to Big Bluff.

We hiked here mid-week during early December, and the weather was perfect. We did encounter a herd of wild boars, but they ran off right away. It was neat to see them. We also saw some deer. The area was incredibly remote and quiet. We were the only ones on the trail (that we saw).

We will definitely be adding more hikes in the Ponca Wilderness Area to our bucket list, such as a trek to the famous Hemmed in Hollow waterfall this spring!

If you’re hiking in the Ponca area, you might enjoy checking out these other hiking trails:

Check back soon for new articles about hiking in the Buffalo National River, Ponca Wilderness, Ozark National Forest, and Northwest Arkansas!

Ashlee + Pablo


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We love exploring Arkansas!

Check out our other articles related to hiking and camping in Arkansas:

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We’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to leave us a comment below if you have any questions.

Also, we’d love to hear if you’ve hiked the Goat Trail in Arkansas or if it is on your bucket list!

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

16 Comments

  1. Burt Randall on February 3, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    This hiking seems fun in Arkansas. Have a great hike next time you go, Ashlee & Pablo.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 3, 2022 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Uncle Burt! Thanks for reading and being such a loyal fan. Haha – we love you!



  2. Ani on February 23, 2022 at 10:52 am

    Gorgeous location!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 23, 2022 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Ani – thanks for reading! 😀



  3. Amina Mohamed on February 23, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Never been to Arkansas but would love to visit this trail.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 23, 2022 at 12:27 pm

      Amina – you would have fun hiking here! Thanks for reading.



  4. kmf on February 23, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    These views are amazing. I would love to hike the Centerpoint to Big Bluff (Goat Trail) in Arkansas.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 25, 2022 at 4:52 pm

      Karen – you will make it to the Ozarks! Great hiking. You’ll have fun. Thanks for reading.



  5. Beverley on February 24, 2022 at 2:02 am

    I love getting outdoors and into the wilderness. Taking on a good hike is a great way to do that and would definitely consider this one when I am in the Arkansas area. It sounds a little scary trying to navigate the small ledge near the end of the hike, but definitely an adventure and if it gives great views, then definitely worth it.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 25, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Beverley – thanks for reading and commenting. You don’t have to walk the last section of the trail to see the great views. Have fun.



  6. Marianne on February 24, 2022 at 8:36 am

    Wow! What gorgeous views! Would love to hike the Big Bluff Goat Trail with my family!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 25, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Marianne – thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Happy hiking!



  7. Alex on February 24, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    What a beautiful hike!! I have to add this to my list of my must-do hikes so I don’t forget.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 25, 2022 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Alex – yes, it is definitely a bucket list hike! While you’re in the area, there are other great hikes. Check out our blog for more close by 🙂



  8. Sarah on February 24, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    Loving your adventures and loving these views too! This looks like an amazing place to hike. I never thought Arkansas had such beauty. Can’t wait to start travelling around the US again!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 25, 2022 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Sarah! Nice to see a comment from you! Hope all is well up north. Thanks for the support. You will have a BLAST hiking in the Ozarks. Stay warm up there!