Picture Courtesy of Keith Brown


The rocks - the bluff lines, the boulders in the creek, the overhangs used by early peoples for shelter, the smooth stones of the river bottom tumbled flat by centuries of water - the rocks are one of the most memorable things of the Ozarks. It would be a rare visitor, indeed, who went home without a picture of a rock and a rock in his pocket.

Yet, even in these Ozarks where rocks worth a second look are always present, the Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area of the Ozark St. Francis National Forest gets, and deserves, special notice.

Whether you choose the 1.7 mile King's Bluff loop or the 2.2 mile Pedestal Rocks loop, these are rocks that are awe-inspiring. Walk two miles to see a rock? You bet!

The trail is at the top of the Illinois Bayou River Drainage. It offers great views and a lesson in Arkansas geology. It is steep in places but there are plenty of rest stops and the trail is generally easy to hike. You will see layer upon layer of sediment that was deposited when the area was under water millions of years ago. After the water receded, the land raised to form a dome called the Ozark Plateau. Since then, natural erosion has been occurring to form the Ozarks. Here, on the edge of the drop-off into the Arkansas River Valley, the erosion has created pedestals, the unique formations that are the focal point of this area. Columns of rock with balancing boulders on top stand along the bluff line one mile from the parking area. On the Kings Bluff Trail, you'll come upon a huge flat bluff top with a waterfall plummeting from the edge.

Along the way you can identify a variety of trees and wildflowers, and you will find there are some differences between this end of the county and the Buffalo River country in the northern half. For instance, one of the spring bloomers is a tree local folks call Cowcumber, which is a summer magnolia. Did you know there are 27 varieties of wild orchids in the Ozarks? You may spot some among the many flowers and also some of the plants pioneers gathered for medicine like elderberry, poke, and sumac.