The Arkansas Elk Herd

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When one thinks of Arkansas, nature does not typically come to mind. However, have your camera gear ready when passing through Arkansas. While elk can be seen in a few other places in Arkansas, you can basically guarantee the best sighting of part of the near 450 elk herd is in the Boxley Valley. The added plus is that elk sightings are available all year.


Simply grab an Arkansas map and hit the road toward the intersection of Arkansas highways 21 and 43 (GPS 35.978423, -93.401984) and arrive from sunrise to around 8 a.m. or in the evening from 5-6 until dark. The rut runs from around mid-September until about mid-November. The bull elk will have antlers until around the beginning of April but grow them back to full size near the end of June (these pictures were taken in early June).

Remember to pull completely off the road and not to trespass on the private property along Highways 21 and 43.

Area attractions

Ponca Elk Education Center
Arkansas Highway 43, 1/4 mile north of Arkansas 74 in Ponca, Newton Country, Arkansas
Open 10-4:30 p.m., closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and holidays
870.861.2432

Nearby trails

Hemmed-In Hollow Trail 5 miles (out and back), 1335 feet elevation
9 miles from Ponca on Arkansas Highway 43 North in Compton. Turn east at the post office and follow signs.
GPS 36.0810215, -93.3031781

This trail features scenic views of the Buffalo River and Ozark Mountains. Its most revered portion is the over 210 foot waterfall. Camping is allowed, however, pets are not.

Hideout Hollow Trail aka Schermerhorn Trail, 2 miles (out and back), 314 feet elevation
9 miles from Ponca on Arkansas Highway 43 North in Compton. Turn east at the post office and follow signs.
GPS 36.07326, -93.26404

The trail features bluff overlook and a tall  waterfall. Camping in the area is allowed.

Lost Valley Hiking Trail 1.9 miles (out and back), 252 feet elevation
Follow the signs two miles south of Ponca
GPS 36.00787, -93.36625

This moderate hike is a heavy traffic trail that features a cave (Cobb Cave) and waterfalls. The cave is around 150 feet long so be sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight. There is parking, which is often full. There is also bathroom available.

Whitaker Point Trail aka Hawksbill Crag, 3 miles (out and back), 364 feet elevation
Go Arkansas Highway 43 South to Arkansas Highway 21 and take a left. You will go about 2 miles until you reach Boxley Bridge crossing the Buffalo River. Take a right on county road 9560 for six miles. Parking may be full. Park your vehicle so that it does not obstruct traffic.
GPS 35.88816, -93.4698

The trail features “Crag” which is a rock formation that resembles a hawk’s beak. The trail features numerous waterfalls during the Spring and early Summer rain seasons. Hawksbill Crag overlooks Whitaker Creek and a large valley.

Equipment used:

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

Nikon D7200 camera

Adobe Lightroom CC

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