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- Height: 31'
- GPS: N35 53.618, W93 26.993
- USGS Quad: Boxley
- Distance: 2.2 miles Loop
- Difficulty: Moderate Hike/Bushwack
- Location: Ozark National Forest
- Ranger District: Big Piney
- Sub-Location: Upper Buffalo Wilderness
- Region: Arkansas Ozarks & Boston Mountains
Details & Directions
Mule Trail Falls is located within the Upper Buffalo Wilderness, and is near the Hawksbill Crag Trail. In fact, we are going to use this trail to get to these falls. The trailhead is located along Cave Mountain Road, just south of historic Boxley Valley and the Buffalo National River. To get to the trailhead, take AR Hwy 43 south from the town of Ponca, until you reach the intersection with AR Hwy 21. Turn Left and continue south through Boxley Valley for 1.2 miles, crossing over two bridges, and then Turn Right onto Cave Mtn Road (steep gravel road), which is just before the bridge that crosses the Buffalo River. Zero your odometer here. Travel up Cave Mountain Road, passing the Cave Mountain Church at 5.4, and then you will come to the trailhead parking area on your Right at 6.0.
I am going to describe a loop to visit all three waterfalls in the area, including Haley Falls and Thousand Kisses Falls, but you can cut your trip short and only visit one or two falls if you want. We will be following the Hawksbill Crag Trail, which begins across the road from the parking area. It begins down a rocky slope, across a small stream (which feeds Mule Trail Falls), and then passes by the trailhead registration box. The trail then swichbacks down a little, and crosses a creek again at around 0.4 miles. (If you only wanted to visit Mule Trail Falls and/or Thousand Kisses Falls, you could turn right and follow this creek about 0.4 miles to the top of Mule Trail Falls, then follow the bluff around to the right to get to Thousand Kisses Falls.)
From the creek crossing at 0.4, the main trail continues somewhat level for a while, then drops on down to a larger creek crossing at around 1.0, along with a trail intersection. The trail to the left is the upper route to Hawksbill Crag, but we want to Turn Right and follow the trail alongside the stream for about 100 yds or so, then you will come to the top of Upper Haley Falls.
The trail continues to the left to Hawksbill Crag, but if you are careful, you can find your down the bluffline over to the left of the falls a little ways, to get to the base of Upper Haley Falls. From there, go behing the upper falls, and you will find a way down on the right to get to the base of Lower Haley Falls. Both upper and lower falls look best when there is a lot of water!
Continue your hike/bushwack along the base of the bluffline (to your Left as your are looking at the falls), passing by an overhanging shelter (I once took shelter here during a thunderstorm), and then coming to Mule Trail Falls at around 1.4. An old mule trail trail once traveled from the mouth of Whitaker Creek on the Buffalo River all the way up to Cave Mountain Road, passing by near here, and is where this waterfall gets its name from.
You can continue along this bluffline, either from above or below, to get to Thousand Kisses Falls at approx 1.5.
To return to the trailhead, return to the top of Mule Trail Falls, and then follow this creek (the Lower Fork of Whitaker Creek) upstream approx 0.4 miles until you come to the main trail. Turn Left and follow the trail back to the trailhead.