How to Reach Hawksbill Crag Hiking the Whitaker Point Trail

Hiking the Whitaker Point Trail to the famous Hawksbill Crag is one of the most iconic hikes in the Ozark National Forest. If you’ve seen photos of this majestic crag and it’s on your Arkansas hiking bucket list, we’re sharing all the details! This article will provide you with all the information you need to have an enjoyable hiking adventure along the Whitaker Point Trail.

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Hawksbill Crag

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Hiking Whitaker Point Trail to See Hawksbill Crag

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in this part of the Ozark National Forest. The national forest contains many recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, trout streams, picnicking areas, and camping sites. The area is incredibly scenic and within close proximity of the Ponca Wilderness and Buffalo National River (National Park Service Park).

The Whitaker Point Trail is a beautiful trail located south of Ponca, near Jasper, Arkansas.

This area is full of spectacular views and lots of recreational adventures.

Are you hiking near Buffalo National River and Whitaker Point? You will also love these other hikes close by:

Centerpoint to Big Bluff (Goat Trail)

Lost Valley Trail in Buffalo National River

Glory Hole Falls (Sinkhole Waterfall)

Whitaker Point Trail (Hawksbill Crag) Hike Details

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Whitaker Point Trail
  • Distance: 2.9 miles round trip (out and back)
  • Elevation Gain: 413 feet
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Difficulty: Moderate. The route is easy to walk along, but there are steep cliff edges, so exercise caution and be careful with pets and small children.
  • Are Dogs Allowed? Yes, dogs are allowed on the trail.
  • The trail is well marked and well maintained. It is easy to follow.

Pssst… We have a gear guide about our favorite hiking pants for both guys and gals. Come check it out!

Other Things to Consider While Hiking Whitaker Point

This is one of the most popular hikes in Arkansas. We have hiked it a few times!

With that being said, weekends are very busy. If you’re planning on getting an epic solo picture, don’t go on the weekend.

Weekdays earlier in the morning are quieter. If you enjoy solitude in nature, we recommend visiting during the middle of the week. Start the hike early and try to catch the sunrise.

There is a hidden waterfall seasonally along the way. You’ll hear the water if the falls are running. There is a little bit of a scramble up and down a rock wall to see the waterfall up close.

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Whitaker Point Trail waterfall

The closest town near this trail is Ponca, where you will be able to get supplies before hiking if need be. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going on your way around the trail.

There are no restrooms along this trail or the gravel road.

There is a small parking lot. Once that fills up, park off the side of the road.

Always practice Leave no Trace.

How Long is the Hike to Hawksbill Crag?

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Steep bluffs along the hiking trail

It takes about two (2) hours to hike the trail round trip, have a snack, take photos of the crag, check out the waterfall, and be back at the car.

It is a great day hike and short enough to pair with nearby hikes, such as the Lost Valley Trail or Glory Hole Trail.

Where is the Whitaker Point Trail Located?

Below is a Google map of where the Whitaker Point Trailhead and Hawksbill Crag are located in relation to Ponca and Jasper, Arkansas.

The trail is located in the Ozark National Forest roughly 30 minutes south of Ponca, Arkansas.

How Do You Get to the Whitaker Point Trailhead?

There is no cell phone reception in the area, so be sure to download directions for offline use before driving to the Whitaker Point trailhead if you are not familiar with the area or have a map.

Whenever we go into the Buffalo National River area, we always bring our National Geographic Topo Map #232, Buffalo National River West, to navigate.

There is a trail sign before the bridge crossing the Buffalo River where you turn off AR 21 onto County Road (CR 5). CR 5 is a gravel road. You will enjoy having a high clearance vehicle to drive along CR 5 – there are lots of bumps, and it is steep in areas. Follow CR 5 until you reach the trailhead. There is a sign with a small parking area.

If the parking area is full, parking is allowed along the sides of the dirt road as long as it is not blocking local traffic.

Best Time to Hike the Whitaker Point Trail

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Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag)

Whitaker Point is a fantastic trail to hike year-round, honestly.

Our favorite time of the year to hike Whitaker Point is in the fall or early winter to catch the leaves changing in the area. The fall crowds tend to die down after Thanksgiving providing hikers more solitude on the local trails.

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What to Bring Hiking

We recommend wearing comfortable hiking shoes, wool socks, sweat-wicking hiking clothes, a hat, sunglasses, water, snacks, and a daypack.

Wear layers to regulate your temperature that keep you warm or cool depending on the time of year.

Get a free packing list and gear guide from us with all of our favorite camping and hiking gear!

Where to Camp Nearby

The best places to camp in the immediate area are:

Check out our article with all the best places to camp along the Arkansas Buffalo River (Upper District).

Watch YouTube: Hiking Whitaker Point Trail to Hawksbill Crag

Get more hiking inspiration by watching the short video!

YouTube video

Final Thoughts on Hiking Whitaker Point

Hiking the Whitaker Point Trail is one of our absolute favorite hikes in Arkansas. We have hiked this trail multiple times, and every time we see the crag, we manage to be awed and inspired to take a hundred photos!

We hope that you enjoy this trail as much as we have!

There are so many other amazing hikes in the area.

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Hawksbill Crag overlook point

If you have more time to explore the area, you might enjoy checking out these other fantastic hikes nearby.

We’ve listed our favorites below:

Thank you so much for reading our blog!

Check back soon for new articles about exploring the Ozark National Forest, Northwest Arkansas, and the Upper Buffalo!

Ashlee + Pablo


You might also enjoy…

We love exploring Arkansas! Check out our other articles about hiking and camping in northwest Arkansas:

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We’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to leave us a comment below, letting us know what your favorite part of the Whitaker Point Trail is or if you have any questions!

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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.

26 Comments

  1. Burt Randall on February 1, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    Have fun, guys, the next time you go to Arkansas.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 1, 2022 at 3:48 pm

      Hey Uncle Burt! Thanks for reading and for the well wishes 🙂 We appreciate you!



  2. anatureescape on February 9, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    This is the exact post that I have been looking for for every park I visit. The detailed post really helps us prepare for the hike and not leave it up to the signage that is sometimes absent in parks. Thank you! Following along for more.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 10, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      Hi there – thanks for reading and leaving such a supportive comment. We appreciate you! That means a lot to us!



  3. Elena on February 10, 2022 at 8:09 am

    Such a great post. I would love to go for a hike here and to see Whitaker Point Trail and Hawksbill Crag. Itms on my bucket list, thanks for sharing!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 10, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Elena – happy hiking! Thanks for reading and feel free to message us if you have questions hiking in the Ozarks!



  4. Josy A on February 10, 2022 at 10:55 am

    Oooh this looks great fun!! I love the way the crag juts out so far so you can see all the views! It’s also pretty cool that you can reach such a cool location with a relatively short hike. I can totally see why it is popular!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 10, 2022 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Josy! I have a feeling you would love the Ozark Mountains! 😀



  5. Denise on February 11, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    The views at Hawksbill Crag look amazing!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 15, 2022 at 10:25 am

      Hi Denise – it is such a wonderful hike in Arkansas!



  6. Hannah on February 19, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    What a spectacular hike! The view from Hawksbill Crag looks incredible! I’d love to visit one day and admire it in person! Thanks for the great guide!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 19, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Hannah! You will love hiking the Whitaker Point Trail in Arkansas. It is even more grand in person. Thanks for reading.



  7. Lasma on February 19, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Wow, this is such a good article, I found everything that I wanted to know. I’m impatient to visit Whitaker Point Trailhead!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 19, 2022 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Lasma – thanks for reading. We hope you have a great hike 🙂



  8. Krista on February 19, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    What an incredible trail to go on! Those views from the edges are amazing. I’d love to hike here someday.



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 19, 2022 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Krista! Thanks for reading. It is worth the trip. Such a beautiful place. Happy hiking!



  9. Olivia on February 19, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    This sounds like an awesome hike! The photo of Hawksbill Crag is epic! I’d love to visit one day in the fall, I’m sure it’s even more beautiful with the leaves changing color 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 19, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Olivia – you are right! Fall is an amazing time to hike the Whitaker Point Trail. I hope you make it there.



  10. Elyse on March 2, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Wow this looks incredible! I love hiking while I travel, such a great way to see the country



    • Ashlee Fechino on March 4, 2022 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Elyse – thanks for reading! It means a lot to us. Happy hiking.



  11. Shelly on March 2, 2022 at 11:16 pm

    Wow, this hike looks amazing thanks for sharing!



    • Ashlee Fechino on March 4, 2022 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Shelly – happy hiking! I bet you and your family would enjoy hiking the Whitaker Point Trail.



  12. Anushka on March 3, 2022 at 9:05 am

    I’ll need to add this hike next time to go to Arkansa! The photos are beautiful and your post gives me all the information I need to plan a hike there 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on March 4, 2022 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Anushka! Yes, you will love hiking in Arkansas.



  13. Kat on March 3, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    WOW this hike looks amazing!!!! I love the photo of Pablo on the edge showing the vastness of the view and landscape. Great post, thanks for sharing!!



    • Ashlee Fechino on March 4, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Kat!! So nice to see you on our blog. Thanks for reading. This is one of our favorite hikes. Thanks for the love on the photo of Pablo. I’ll tell him. We had fun.