I hiked into Big Bluff (aka Goat Trail) on a summer evening in 2016 to time lapse the stars. The Buffalo River is one of the last places in Arkansas where you have “Dark Skies” (aka Dark Territory). To get to the Goat Trail, you start at the Centerpoint Trailhead off Highway 43 north of Ponca and hike 3 1/2 miles into the wilderness. I started at the trailhead at 5:30pm and it took me about 1 1/2 hours to get there ( I lollygagged for a bit here and there). The trail is downhill a majority of the way and well defined, so it’s easy to follow. It’s part horse trail too, so watch out for land mines! Once you get there, the views are magnificent. I have been all over the Ozarks, but I gotta say, I was in awe at this place.
The lightning bug dance was prevalent on this muggy evening from Big Bluff overlooking the Buffalo River in the Ponca Wilderness. The hike out was pretty tough, mostly up hill with a couple spots where it flattens out for a breather.
I wouldn’t suggest this trail for small children, or people are not in at least decent shape. Not to mention once you are on the cliff edge, it’s 500+ feet down, so people with vertigo issues may want to skip this one. If you do decide to hike out there for night photography, use extreme caution. Remember, you are in the wilderness, and help is miles away. Stay smart, be prepared.
I hope this inspires you to get outdoors and enjoy some of the greatest skies on earth.