Hawksbill Crag, also known as Whitaker Point, is a must see destination in Arkansas. It is located Cave Mountain in the Ozark National Forest/Upper Buffalo Wilderness area, not far from the Buffalo National River area we camped in before hiking to the point.
The Whitaker Point Trail itself is advertised as unmarked, though we saw plenty of orange triangles attached to trees both coming and going. That being said, it would be very easy to get lost because there are social trails EVERYWHERE. Happily, Missouri Howell had hiked to the point before, though from a different direction, so he had a general idea of where we needed to go.
It must be pointed out that the trails can be steep and technical, with roots and rocks pretty much constantly underfoot. Along the way, there are multiple points where the trail parallels a cliff – one slip and it’s a long way down. Hawksbill Crag has had its share of deaths (though I couldn’t find a definitive number). Interestingly (and further warning to be careful), there have been no fatalities from people falling from the points itself – only falls from either side.
As you get closer to the point itself, there is a small turnout that affords a great view of Hawksbill Crag, really emphasizing its height of around 150 feet. We were lucky and got to take photos of each other solo on the crag, which apparently is pretty unusual these days. Crowds are more common at this popular destination, so hike early or camp overnight if you want some quiet time.
Hawksbill Crag is in a National Forest and dispersed camping is permitted in this area. Dispersed camping comes with some rules – the campsite must be at least 100 feet from any stream or other water source and campers are obligated to keep a Pack-In Pack-Out camp, follow Leave No Trace guidelines.
We saw campers on the edge of a cliff with hammocks hanging, a campfire roaring, and a breakfast that included bacon making me wish we could join them. It appeared that there are many such optimal spots to camp if so desired. If you’re not interested in dispersed camping, there are several maintained campgrounds nearby, such as Steel Creek, where we overnighted.
We used a GPS navigation system to get to the trailhead, so its likely you won’t need to print a map. The road is steep, made of dirt and gravel, and is heavily traveled at times. To plan ahead for the hiking portion, you may want to find and print Ozark National Forest Trails Maps.