Picture Courtesy of Joey Benton & Keith Brown


The first mile of the trail at Lost Valley will seem like a stroll through the park. Anyone can do it. There's a wide, well-maintained gravel walking path that is fairly level. It follows a rocky streambed through hardwood forest and is lined with wildflowers, ferns, lichen-covered fallen logs and interesting rocks. Watch for a large bluff shelter along your way.

    This tiny valley of Clark Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo River, is sheltered and secluded and, even though it sees a lot of use in high visitor seasons, it can give walkers who can't manage some of the more difficult trails a taste of wilderness experience on foot.

    At the top of this stretch is a natural bridge, a rock arch through which the creek pours, making a small falls surrounded by a bluff and huge boulders. The clear, round pool of water is an inviting place to stop and you can walk around on the ledge of the bluff and get right up to the falls. It's one of the prettiest spots you'll see on any hike in the Ozarks, so be sure you carry your camera along.

    From there, the last half mile of trail is a steep climb up the side of the hill that ends at a cave. Take a flashlight with you if you're going on. You'll need it to explore the inside of the cave, which is about 200 feet long and ends in a large room with a 35 foot waterfall.

    Lost Valley has a history. According to old-timers, it was once home to the granny woman who was the midwife and herbal remedy healer for everyone in the area. While the mouth of the valley opens out into the wide and easily traversed Boxley valley, the back side is much more rugged. To reach those who lived on the mountain or the other side, she would climb up above the natural bridge on foot and someone would meet her there with a horse. Imagine, as you return by the same path, what it would have been like to be walking back down this path at night after being called to the far side of the mountain to deliver a new baby. It'll give you a new appreciation of what life was like for those who lived along the Buffalo before the days of cars and paved roads.