After cowboy camping at Steel Creek Campground, we were up and moving to our first hike at Lost Valley. But first a quick stop to see one of the resident elk herds that live in the area (we saw a second further up the road). Lost Valley Trail is one of the most popular trails within the Buffalo National River.
We visited during a surprising dry period (even the Buffalo River itself was quite low), so the water features we’d come for didn’t exist. The amazing thing about this trail is that it didn’t matter, it was still well worth experiencing. That being said, I’d love to get back there after a good period of rain to check out the creek pools, and falls.
From the parking area, it’s ~1.2 miles to the endpoint, Eden Falls. It’s a an easy start (wide gravel trail) and becomes moderately difficult (stairs and scrambling over rocks). The trail features Natural Bridge (a small tunnel through which the creek flows), Cob Cave (a bluff underhang that has traditionally been used as shelter), and Eden Falls (a 53 ft waterfall ).
Climbing up above the falls gives access to a large cave with a 25-ft waterfall inside (dry when we visited). If you’re planning on climbing into the cave as we did, be sure to bring a light source and be careful on the scramble in, as the rocks were slippery even though dry.
Facilities at the trailhead include a pavilion, flush toilets, and drinking water available March through October only. The trail is day use only, so no camping, though there are references to a campground at the site (perhaps it’s closed).
How to get there:
This is a short, but worthy hike. Expect to see lots of people on the trail and check the rainfall if you want to see the falls.