Upper Buffalo Wilderness


Hawksbill Crag
Hawksbill Crag, a popular destination in Upper Buffalo Wilderness
Buffalo Wild and Scenic River

Upper Buffalo Wilderness is a 12,108-acre property on Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. The wilderness area abuts the Buffalo National Wild & Scenic River as the wilderness contains the Buffalo's headwaters. Those headwaters are rated among the cleanest and most pure water in North America.

The river falls down a steep, V-shaped valley, fed by tributaries falling down similar-but-smaller valleys. The landscape is rugged, the slopes steep (if not vertical), the countryside heavily treed (oak and hickory mostly, with scattered stands of pine). There was a time when the area was homesteaded but the last resident left in 1948. Slowly the "improvements" they left behind are melting back into the forest but most are still somewhat visible. The only "official" trail in the area leads to Hawksbill Crag via some of the old roads. The Forest Service says there are three other trailheads in the area but they are all unmarked, undeveloped trails following the old road system.

Among the wildlife are black bear, white-tailed deer, coyote, bobcat, fox, wild turkey, raccoon, beaver, opossum, woodchuck and mink. However, if you like to hunt squirrel, the Upper Buffalo is rated as "superior."