Some of Our Local and Area Activities
(For the full list, download the Activity Guide.)
Outdoor Activities and Nature:
- Float Rentals on the Eleven Point River
- Bike, hike, or drive our rolling hills
- Canoe and fish our five local rivers
- Motorbike or drive the 140 mile Five Rivers Rumble
- Buck Hollow Ranch
- Eleven Point River
- Halls’ Creek Canyon
- Black River Overlook Park
- Thomas O. Marr Park
- Aquatic Center
- Fishing in Pocahontas
- Hunting and Fishing in Randolph County
- City Sports Complex (ballgames)
- Capture site of General Jeff Thompson
- Arkansas’ only quilt trail
- Randolph County Heritage Museum
- Civil War River Walk Memorial
- The Century Wall
- Arkansas’ Oldest Barbershop
- Arkansas’ Oldest Drug Store
- Randolph County Veterans Memorial
- The Meteorite
- Old Frisco Train Depot
- Eddie Mae Herron Center
- Grave of Arkansas’ 3rd governor
- The Old Steam Engine
- 1828 Rice House log cabin
- 1831 Looney Tavern
- Rock and Roll Highway 67
- Davidsonville Historic State Park
- Maynard Pioneer Park and Museum
- Ravenden Springs Community Museum
- The Southwest Trail
- The Trail of Tears
- Arkansas Civil War Trail
- Downtown Playhouse (Live plays/coffee shop)
- R. J. Reynolds Gallery (art)
- Marilyn’s On The Square (music and dance)
Things to Do In Pocahontas
The Downtown Playhouse, at 302 N Marr Street, features excellent live plays (comedy, dramas, and musicals) in a dinner theater atmosphere. They don’t actually serve dinner, just desserts and coffee, so it’s a great place to go after a dinner at Bella Piazza Italian Restaurant, just a block up Marr Street.
Housed in our old 1940’s art deco era movie theater, the old theater has undergone a wonderful extensive renovation to become the Playhouse. For ticket information call (870) 758-2282 or visit www.thedowntownplayhouse.com.
Pocahontas has a wonderful new publicly owned water park, featuring an Olympic size indoor pool as well as outdoor pools and water slides. You can get a day pass to swim at the aquatic center for a small fee. The water park is located in Thomas O. Marr Park on North Marr Street.
The aquatic center street address is 205 Geneva Drive, Pocahontas.
Watch the Artists At Work
Downtown Pocahontas features the wonderful Black River Beads and Pottery, 213 East Broadway, where James and his wife Mandy put on a real show as you watch them produce hand-thrown pottery, blown glass, and their original product, the glass beads that have been sold worldwide via their website. Living upstairs over their gallery and gift shop, James, Mandy and their children can be considered pioneers in the redevelopment boom taking place in downtown Pocahontas. When James’ factory job was “shipped to Mexico” a few years ago, he and Mandy decided to take the plunge into turning their hobby of hand-made glass beads into a full-time job, and things have turned out amazingly well. Their shop, in the old Depression-era former City Hall building, even features a wonderful glass-blowing workshop in the old jail cell! And when the weather’s nice, James often sets up his potter’s wheel outside on the sidewalk in front of the building, where you can watch him work in the fresh air. Don’t miss it when you visit Pocahontas. Open Sunday through Friday. Closed on Saturday, unfortunately. https://www.blackriverbeads.com
1872 Randolph County Courthouse
The center of the Pocahontas town square features Randolph County’s 1872 courthouse. The structure has been carefully restored by the State of Arkansas and now serves as our local tourist information office. A walk through the old building, with many old-time Pocahontas photos on the walls, gives a wonderful idea of the architecture of the Victorian era.
Black River Overlook Park/Civil War River Walk Memorial
Pocahontas stands on a hill overlooking the Black River. This hill, and the town, were once known as “Bettis Bluff”, after Ranson (or Ransom) Bettis, the town’s founder. Nobody really knows why the town was renamed Pocahontas. Lots of theories exist, but proof seems lost to the ages. The banks of the Black River were once home to the “Port of Pocahontas,” the busiest river port in the area during the steamboat era. Before the railroad came to town, the steamboats brought people and goods to this part of Arkansas via the Black River and our river port. That port is now Black River Overlook Park.
During the Civil War, the Port of Pocahontas was a major Confederate supply point for the Confederate armies headquartered in Pocahontas, including The Army of the West under Major General Earl Van Doren, The Army of Northern Arkansas under General Hardee, and the Confederate Army of Missouri under General Sterling Price. It was also the site of the first Confederate Military Hospital in Arkansas.
The Park today, on its upper level, contains a series of 6 historic markers explaining the historic importance of the Black River and the Port, including its Civil War significance. Also at that level is another historic marker dedicated to the history of Randolph County in the Civil War years.
In the Park’s lower level, along the Black River, is the Civil War River Walk Memorial Trail, a series of 6 historic markers established in 2006 along a paved trail. There’s a custom-made bench at each marker, featuring the outline of the cupola of our 1872 courthouse. The markers tell the story of Randolph County’s Civil War history in detail, including several major skirmishes in the county. Listed are all units, both Confederate and Union, stationed in the county, description of the capture of General Jeff Thompson, the 1863 burning of Pocahontas by Union forces, and many other significant events that occurred in Randolph County during the war.
In addition to picnic tables and some nice riverside places to rest and think, there are a couple of other nice features in the park that people seem to enjoy: the Princess Pocahontas statue and the Century Wall.
The life-size statue of Princess Pocahontas stands near the entry to the park, in front of the pavilion. The princess has hair blowing in the wind and she clutches a stalk of the grain they lived on.
Nearby, the Century Wall is a collection (on 3 separate brick walls) of the most influential Americans of the 20th Century, etched in stone. It was erected in 2000 as a tribute to the turn of the century.
Randolph County Heritage Museum
The Randolph County Heritage Museum, on the Pocahontas town square at 106 East Everett Street, is one of the finest local museums in Arkansas. Since Randolph County was one of the first places settled by Europeans and Africans in Arkansas, there’s a long history here and it’s beautifully displayed in our local museum. A few years ago some volunteers moved an old button factory from the banks of Black River just south of Overlook Park, dismantled it, and rebuilt it inside the museum. The button factory demonstrates how, in the days before plastic buttons, local people dredged mussel shells out of the river and drilled round mother of pearl “blanks” out of the shells to be turned into buttons. The museum, open every day except Sunday, also houses our cherished archives of local written memories and many oral history tapes, and it has a wonderful little gift shop full of local souvenirs.
Arkansas’s First Quilt Trail
The Pocahontas National Historic District is home to Arkansas’ only quilt trail, with about 60 locally-made quilts displayed on the outside walls of downtown buildings. Many quilt trails around the country just feature a painting of a single square from various quilts, but our trail features near-full-size images of the whole quilts, photographically printed on vinyl material and mounted on the walls of downtown. You can pick up the trail from any point and follow it back to your point of origin, seeing all the quilts in order. Following the quilt trail gives a good walking or driving tour of the historic district. The Heritage Museum, on the north side of the town square at 106 East Everett Street, has maps of the quilt trail as well as booklets describing each quilt, including who made it and when, and the significance of its design.
Located at 106 W. Everett Street, the Rendezvous Event Center is a popular setting for weddings, receptions, performances, parties, reunions, meetings, lectures, and corporate retreats. Seating about 300 people, it’s the largest venue in downtown Pocahontas. http://eventcenter.us/
R. J. Reynolds-Pearcy’s “The Gallery”
R. J. Reynolds? You mean the huge tobacco company has a gallery in Pocahontas? No, not at all. R. J. Reynolds is the maiden name of artist Jean Pearcy, and her art gallery on the Pocahontas town square at 103 North Marr Street is her pride and joy. It’s located in an 1880’s era building on the town square. In addition to displaying and selling her own work, Jean features art produced by several area artists and it’s really quite good. The artists meet regularly at the gallery to “talk art” and enjoy each other’s company (including the occasional “pot luck” dinner together).
We encourage people to enjoy their travels more by walking rather than running, spending time studying one place rather than rushing to see as many towns as possible while traveling. One great thing to do while slow traveling would be to get a haircut and spend time talking with the hairdresser or barber about their town and their life. The Sanitary Barbershop, at 105 North Marr Street, provides a nostalgic experience in the oldest barbershop in Arkansas, having been in business in the same place on the town square since the 1880’s. The old shop features memorabilia of the shop’s 130+ years of barbering history.
Studio B Salon and Day Spa
Studio B is on the Pocahontas town square, at 104 East Everett Street. They offer massage and all the pampering any guest could hope for, including manicures, pedicures, and room to add more features in time!
Arkansas’ Oldest Drug Store
There has been a drug store at 115 East Broadway, the corner of Bettis Street and Broadway on the town square in Pocahontas, since 1852, making it the oldest pharmacy in Arkansas at the same location. The Futrell family has owned and operated the pharmacy there since 1962, as Futrell’s Pharmacy. A visit to Futrell’s takes you back in time. They still have a soda fountain and they still make a great milkshake and serve hot coffee! If you get there between 7 and 8 a.m., though, don’t expect to get a seat at a table because that’s the Pocahontas old timers hour at Futrell’s and the regulars will already occupy every seat in the place, as they exchange stories and discuss the local rumor mill.
The Treasure Trunk
Step into the Treasure Trunk, at 108 N Bettis Street for the joy of shopping! Featuring an eclectic mix of treasures, they offer unique items to complete any home decor.
Black River, the largest river in our county, flows by Pocahontas a 6-minute walk from the guesthouse. Baltz Lake, a city-owned fishing lake with a fishing dock, is a 22-minute walk from the guesthouse. Both fishing locations are right on highway US 67, so they are quite safe.
The Black River location is in Black River Overlook Park, and there are public restrooms there. There are no public restrooms at Baltz Lake. For some reason, Google Maps places a Burger King by Baltz Lake Dam, but there’s no Burger King there. Our Burger King is in a different part of town entirely!
People age 16 or older must carry a valid Arkansas fishing license to take or attempt to take fish and frogs in Arkansas. A 3-day non-resident fishing license costs $16.
You can purchase a license online at:
You can purchase a license by phone at:
Call 501-223-6349 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. in the Little Rock area. Or call 800-364-GAME (4263) 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Please have your credit card and an identification number ready. Your identification number can be a driver’s license, Social Security number, hunter education number, state ID number or passport number. Small game and fishing privileges become effective immediately.
The Old Steam Engine
Black River Overlook Park was once the Pocahontas industrial area, and a large part of the area was occupied by the Sallee Brothers Hickory Handle Mill, where wood from local hickory trees was turned into hardwood handles for hand tools like hammers and axes. The old steam engine that once powered the handle mill has been restored and placed in Riverside Park, just south of the Highway 67 bridge, south of Overlook Park.
Take a step back in time and connect with a simpler way of life as you see a real old time downtown hardware store. Futrell’s Hardware has occupied the southeast corner of the Pocahontas town square, at 102 South Bettis Street, for as long as any of us can remember, and during all that time, nothing has changed in this time capsule of the 1930s!
Randolph County Veterans Memorial
Any visit to Pocahontas should include a visit to the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Randolph County courthouse, on Broadway Street a block off the town square. The memorial includes life-sized bronze statues of servicemen from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, plus plaques naming the dead from our county in those wars plus Korea and the Middle East.
There are bricks in the sidewalk naming Randolph County service members from all our wars from the Civil War forward, and benches honoring Randolph Countians who served in operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.
In the fall of 1858, a bright light streaked across the skies of northeast Arkansas. This visitor from the heavens was a large meteor. It’s fiery presence grew larger as it approached the City of Pocahontas–it fell to Earth with a great explosion of fire and a great bang! It landed in a field just north of what’s today Black River Overlook Park, along the river bank just across Highway 67 from downtown Pocahontas.
The great stony meteorite remained where it fell for four decades until the town’s railway station master, Oscar Keith, loaded the rock in a wagon and placed it in his front yard on Vance Street north of downtown where it remained for over a half century. Unprotected, the stone lost over 2/3 of its size as souvenir hunters chipped off many pieces.
The meteorite was more recently moved to a spot on the Randolph County Courthouse lawn (the 1940, art-deco building, not the 1872 “old courthouse”). There it can be viewed today, surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The meteorite’s location is near the northeast corner of the courthouse lawn, at the bottom of the large stairway off Broadway Street.
Camera Corner Studio
Strolling the Pocahontas town square can take you by so many interesting places, including Cindy Throgmorton’s Camera Corner Studio at 201 East Everett Street on the corner of Everett and Bettis Streets. Cindy uses settings around downtown Pocahontas for her portrait photography. A real artist, Cindy is known all over Arkansas as an expert in restoration of old photos, and Camera Corner features a great library of historic Pocahontas photographs. She has created a wonderful souvenir CD of some of the best old photos. https://www.cameracornerstudio.com/
Old Pocahontas Post Office
Built in the middle of the Great Depression, the old Pocahontas post office building at 109 North Van Bibber Street now houses our local newspaper, the Pocahontas Star Herald. The exterior of the building features, over the windows and door, carvings of an airplane, a train, and a ship, which were the prime ways the mail was moved in the era of the building’s construction. It’s worth stepping inside the lobby of the building to admire the faux oak woodwork.
Marilyn’s On The Square
Marilyn’s, at 111 North Marr Street, has helped with the revitalization of downtown Pocahontas by regularly bringing crowds of kids, parents, and fans to the town square. In addition to daily clogging classes and performances, a large Taekwondo group holds regular classes and competitions in Marilyn’s spacious building. Marilyn’s almost always has something going on. Any time you’re in town and see activity at Marilyn’s, feel free to stop in and watch as they learn, rehearse, and perform. https://marilynsclogging.com/
The local train depot was built at 200 McDonald Street, near the riverside, in 1917 and now serves as our local tourist information office. The Frisco Railroad picked up their tracks and left Pocahontas in the 1980s, and the City of Pocahontas now owns the old depot. There’s a restored 1920’s era caboose car on a short section of railroad track beside the depot.
Fitness Worx Health Club
If you are looking for a place to continue your regular athletic workouts when you’re in Pocahontas, visit Fitness Worx on the eastern side of the historic district at 306 McDonald Street, beside the town’s old train depot. Housed in a building constructed during World War II to dehydrate eggs to be sent to American servicemen fighting overseas, Fitness Worx is well equipped to provide a good physical workout.
The Eddie Mae Herron Center
The Eddie Mae Herron Center, at 1708 Archer Street in Pocahontas, is many things: a museum, an education center, a community center, a heritage and culture center. The Center preserves and displays a portion of nearly two hundred years of African-American history in Randolph County, Arkansas. The Herron Center, located on a hill a few blocks from downtown Pocahontas, occupies a building built in 1918 as St. Mary’s African Episcopal Church. The church also served as the local “colored school” until racial segregation ended in Pocahontas in 1964. In 2000, former students of the school joined together to create the Herron Center, to keep their community and their beloved old building alive and thriving. The Center, open most days, contains a re-creation of the one-room school that was once there, as well as a pulpit and pew from the days when it housed a church, and museum displays of the history of the building and the local African-American community. They also have a small gift shop. https://www.herroncenter.org/
Thomas O. Marr Park
Before there was a town here, what’s now Pocahontas was the large farm of pioneer settler Thomas O. Marr, who came here in the early 1800s. The site of Marr’s home is now Thomas O. Marr Park.
The park is home to the town’s public swimming pools, community center (with gymnasium), a picnic pavilion and plenty of picnic tables where residents and visitors are welcome to enjoy a picnic meal in a peaceful setting.
The City of Pocahontas Sports Complex
In nice weather sports fans may catch ball games to watch at the Pocahontas Sports Complex, which features baseball, softball, and soccer matches (and, of course, a concession stand for your dining pleasure).
The Pocahontas High School Sports Complex
Another place to see sports in Pocahontas is at Pocahontas High School, where, during the school months, there’s football, baseball, softball, basketball, and other sports going on and open to the public. If you drive by the school after school hours, and see a lot of cars parked there, there may be something going on you would like to stop in and see!
Our town’s oldest cemetery includes the graves of Thomas Drew, third governor of the State of Arkansas, and Drew’s father-in-law, Ransom Bettis, who founded Pocahontas. The Founder’s Memorial, pictured here, was created during the 2006 celebration of Pocahontas’ 150th birthday, and marks the burial place of Governor Drew (his is the tallest monument in the cemetery) and the Bettis family.
St. Paul The Apostle Catholic Church
On the grounds of the church stands St. Paul’s Grotto. The rock grotto and garden was built in 1936 as a representation of the Saint Bernadette miracle site at Lourdes, France. www.saintpaulscatholic.com
The largest lake in Pocahontas is Baltz Lake, on US Highway 67 North. Owned by the city, Baltz Lake is a good place for fishing, with a nice fishing pier near the dam site.
Things To Do in Randolph County Outside of Pocahontas
Float Equipment Rental on the Eleven Point River
Trukees Canoe & Cabin Rental 7060 HWY 62 in Pocahontas offers rental of canoes, kayaks, and tubes, and they provide transportation to your starting point for river day trips and overnight trips on the Eleven Point River.
They also will provide transportation if you have your own float equipment. Cabins, RV hookups, and tent sites are also available. They also sell snacks, drinks, ice and limited merchandise.
For reservations or questions, text 870-810-3486 or email at TrukeesRentals@gmail.com
The Eleven Point River is a Class II whitewater river with exciting, but not too challenging rapids. There are also 5 old stone dams and some swift, tricky currents.
The Rice House and Site at Dalton
The oldest log dwelling in the state of Arkansas, the fully-restored Rice House was constructed in 1828 and used as a store and loom house by the builder, Reuben Rice, who established a rural trading center soon after the Rice family arrived in the Eleven Point River Valley in 1812. The structure features an original log partition wall, a rarity in such early log architecture. A restored 1820s log granary survives from the well-documented trading center days adding to the site’s significance. The house is restored to the 1840s era when Reuben’s son expanded the main structure to serve as a family dwelling house.
The house, a few miles north of Pocahontas, is open to the public only rarely, currently on the second Saturday of June, July, August, and September, and on the third Saturday of October. It’s also open on some other occasions by special announcement. The house is only a few feet off of Arkansas Highway 93, however, so you can get very close to it, even if the site is closed, and study the log construction.
The Looney Tavern and Site at Dalton
The oldest log commercial building in Arkansas, the fully-restored William Looney Tavern, stands on a hill across the Eleven Point River from the Reuben Rice House mentioned above. The tavern is one of the finest surviving examples of early log building traditions in Arkansas. The 1-1/2 story ‘dog-trot’ constructed of hewn oak logs can be attributed to a team of master folk builders.
Constructed in the early 1830s, it was used as a rural tavern/inn by William Looney. Discoveries revealed during restoration indicate that the structure was also used, in part, for Looney’s distilling industry. Prior to his death in 1846 he was producing up to 1500 gallons of apple brandy a year. The Looney family arrived in the Eleven Point River Valley prior to 1815 and their original dwelling site has yet to be located. William descended from a legendary family of frontiersmen, beginning with his great-grandfather Robert Looney who established a ferry in 1742 on the James River in Virginia where the Great Valley Road crossed. His kinsmen participated in opening every new frontier as American settlement pushed westward with William being the first of the family to settle west of the Mississippi.
The house, a few miles north of Pocahontas, is open to the public only rarely, currently on the second Saturday of June, July, August, and September, and on the third Saturday of October. It’s also open on some other occasions by special announcement. The tavern is in an isolated location surrounded by private property and it’s not easily accessible other than on dates when it’s open to the public.
The Dalton Country Market
The USA Today article here describes the circumstances that caused the Ervin Kropf family, and some other Mennonite families, to move here a few years ago from Huntsville, Missouri. The migration was due to a change in Missouri’s law that now requires a photo be taken of all who get a driver’s license, something Ervin and his family object to, saying it’s a forbidden graven image.
Arkansas law provides a religious exemption from requiring a photo to get a driver’s license, much to the benefit of our local community, who have welcomed the Mennonites with open arms. Since our county is right on the Missouri state line, the Mennonites are as close as they can be to their old connections in Missouri. They bought the then-closed general store at our community of Dalton (their store is now the only business in Dalton) and have turned it into a wonderful, and apparently prosperous, business. The Kropf family’s Dalton Country Market is often packed with customers enjoying the wonderful sandwiches they prepare to order, using their own fresh-baked bread and your choice from about a dozen different meats and cheeses.
They also offer shelf after shelf of wonderful, hard-to-find foods like oat bran, sesame sticks and candies that they buy in bulk and repackage for retail sale at wonderfully low prices. In season, their fresh produce is the best available locally. It’s a reminder of how much better food was in the old days, when it was grown locally, picked when ripe and eaten fresh, as opposed to the picked-green, tasteless produce from California, Texas, Florida and Mexico we’re so accustomed to these days.
A trip to the Dalton Country Market is becoming a must-do for any visitor to our community. I’d post a photo, but they asked me not to! So go in person to see what they have created in their new home here in the Ozarks!
The Eleven Point River
Randolph County is the only county in Arkansas, perhaps in America, that has five large, navigable rivers, including the Black River, our largest river, that flows by Pocahontas.
Our pride and joy, though, is the Eleven Point River, our longest and most beautiful river. While there’s debate over where the Eleven Point got its name, there’s no debate over it being the best kayaking and canoeing river in the county. Originating just over the state line in southern Missouri’s Ozarks and the Mark Twain National Forest, the Eleven Point enters the county as a fast-flowing white water stream, cuts the county in half from north to south and leaves the county as it joins the Spring River and the Black River to become a slower-flowing bottomlands river.
Davidsonville Historic State Park provides float information and shuttle service for two river floats:
- Black River Float: 4 to 6 hours long. Canoes are put in at Davidsonville and picked up at Powhatan Historic State Park.
- Eleven Point River Float: 6 to 7 hours long. Canoes are put in at the Hwy. 90 Bridge and picked up at Lloyd Williams Access.
- Float trip participants must be at the park no later than 8:30 AM and must be at their pick up destination no later than 4:00 PM.
- Canoe and Kayak river floats are priced at $30 a vessel. Includes shuttle, vessel, life vests, and paddles.
- Shuttles for those with their own equipment are $30 a vessel.
- To reserve a float trip, Davidsonville Historic State Park must have 24 hour notice. For more information please contact, Davidsonville Historic State Park at 870.892.4708 or come by the park at 7953 Hwy. 166 South Pocahontas, AR. 72455
Rock and Roll Highway 67
Marr Street, which runs down one side of the Pocahontas town square, used to be U.S. Highway 67, the principal highway between Little Rock and St. Louis. U. S. Highway 67 here in Randolph County, as well as in Lawrence and Jackson counties, has been officially designated as Rock and Roll Highway 67 by the Arkansas Legislature due to the many pioneers and stars of early rock and roll who appeared at venues here. These include Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Billy Lee Riley, Sonny Burgess and many more. Randolph County venues are marked with historical markers.
The longest remaining, drive-able section of the original Highway 67, the very concrete driven by Elvis and the other old rock and roll artists, runs several miles north of Pocahontas. A map in the welcome book in your guest room will tell you exactly how to get there.
Maynard Pioneer Park and Museum
Housed in a log cabin over 100 years old, the museum is filled with antiques from the 1800s; also has many pictures, newspaper clippings and historical documents making it ideal for genealogy studies for people from that area. Also on the grounds is a park with three pavilions, barbeque pits, playground equipment and 4 RV hook-ups; and a log cabin that served as both church and school. Located in the charming nearby valley village of Maynard.
Rolling Hills Country Club
Visitors to our town can enjoy the 18 holes of golfing at Rolling Hills. They also have a restaurant with bar. 2365 Country Club Rd, Pocahontas 870-892-4931 https://goo.gl/L4Bdr
Ravenden Springs Community Museum
This outstanding museum in the small town of Ravenden Springs, a thriving and bustling spa town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, displays the history of the town and its healing springs. It’s located in the old rock school building, a National Historic Register property. Visitors wanting to tour the museum should inquire at the Ravenden Springs post office.
Hall’s Creek Canyon
Naturally speaking, the most interesting place in northeast Arkansas is right here in Randolph County: Hall’s Creek Canyon. For the adventurer, exploring Halls’ Creek Canyon can be a real treat! The canyon is in a wilderness area right at the edge of the town of Ravenden Springs. Turn right off Hwy 90 onto Upper Janes Creek Road. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right to park beside the bridge.
In front of you is Hall’s Creek and Bailey Spring, across the creek. Bailey Spring is the largest of the five springs with medicinal qualities that made Ravenden Springs a popular spa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After visiting the spring, turn right (southwest) and travel along the creek in the downstream direction. One can hike in the creek bed when the water’s low or along the creek bank at other times. Soon hikers will notice rock formations climbing steeply upward on both sides of the creek. Waterfalls, pools, and torrents also begin to characterize the creek. Some pools are large and deep enough for a refreshing swim. As one travels on down the creek, the rock bluffs on each side get higher and steeper, and many of the unique features of the canyon begin to appear.
These include the documented site of Arkansas’s first school. In 1817 Caleb Lindsey started a school there for the area’s children. The school “building” still stands because it was a cave. The School Cave is approximately a quarter-mile below the bridge. It’s on the southeast side of the canyon. Beside it is the Blue Pool–said to be bottomless. To reach the School Cave, hikers must travel along the northwest side of the canyon, climb up an easy slope and down a slightly steeper slope below a large rock that’s detached from the canyon wall. This is probably the only even slightly challenging part of the hike down the canyon other than having to walk over small rocks along most of the route.
Another quarter-mile down the canyon, one comes to two caves on the northwest face of a tall rock bluff. At the base of the bluff is the Elephant Cave, so named for its large size. Above the Elephant Cave on the face of the bluff about 20 feet up is another cave. This is the Raven’s Den. Early explorers of the canyon reported that ravens–crow like (but larger) birds nested there in the cave. Whether they didn’t know the difference in a raven and a crow or there actually were ravens in this area then (early 1800s) isn’t known, but ornithologists tell us that it’s unlikely that the raven (a bird of western North America) lived here at that time.
(The story continues beneath the map below…) GPS location of the parking area: 36° 19′ 03.55″ N 91° 13′ 32.63″ W View Larger Map
A bit further down the canyon, one comes to two other primary features located on the southeast side of the canyon. As one approaches Lone Rock, one can clearly make it out before arriving at its base. This is a tall column of rock that has separated from the rock of the canyon wall–quite an impressive site. Just past Lone Rock is another feature that can be interactive if one chooses, the Needle’s Eye. This feature is a large crack or fissure in the solid rock bluff from the bottom of the canyon to the top. The Needle’s Eye may be climbed without too much difficulty–it’s a moderately difficult climb for youngsters (adult accompaniment is recommended). Climbing the Needle’s Eye is a unique experience that most locals have done at least once, probably more often. When reaching the top, one is also near the top of Lone Rock. Though the distance from the top of the bluff to the rock column isn’t great, jumping from one to the other isn’t recommended–it would be a deadly fall if the jumper failed the attempt.
While that covers the main features of the canyon, the entire hike of a half mile or so each way has much natural beauty and interesting rock formations all along the way. Just below the Needle’s Eye, the canyon walls begin to slope down from the top more gently. These rocky slopes are thick with moss and redbud trees–a beautiful sight in the spring when the mosses are bright green and the trees are covered with purple blooms.
There are several flea market/antique stores at the “Y Shopping Center” at the intersection of US Highways 67 and 62 in Pocahontas. There are also two well-stocked antique stores in the little town of Biggers, 12 miles (19 km) north of Pocahontas on US Highway 67. Green Gable Antiques is right on Highway 67 by the turn off the highway onto the road that leads into Biggers. To find Graham’s Antiques, turn off of Highway 67 and go on into the little town of Biggers. Graham’s is right at the crossroads in the center of town.
Davidsonville Historic State Park: A Scenic 15-minute Drive From Pocahontas
It’s a scenic 15-minute (one way) drive through the hills to this state park that preserves the site of historic Davidsonville. Established in 1815, the town included the Arkansas Territory’s first post office, courthouse, and land office. Bypassed by the Southwest Trail, an overland route from St. Louis to the border of Mexico, the town faded by the 1830s. Archaeological excavations here are uncovering remarkable finds of streets, foundations, and objects that tell a fascinating story of life on the Arkansas frontier following the Louisiana Purchase. Park exhibits and interpretive tours provide information about this important frontier town. GPS address 7953 Highway 166 South. https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/olddavidsonville/
The park includes some nice walking trails:
Historic Townsite Trail: Easy 1/3 mile loop. From 1815 to 1830, Davidsonville was a vibrant town with store-lined streets and people going about their daily lives on the frontier. Although no remnants of Davidsonville are now visible above the ground, stories are emerging from beneath the surface. This trail takes you around Davidsonville’s once-bustling town square. Exhibits on the trail explain more about this historic town and its historical significance to Arkansas. The panels also give you a glimpse of the people who once called Davidsonville home and the archeology that helped fill in the details about life at Davidsonville.
Scott Cemeter Trail: Easy to moderate 1/2 mile walk. Named for the family buried here, this is a short hike to a post-Civil War cemetery. The Scott family owned and ran the Black River ferry even after Davidsonville was just a ghost of the town it had been. Today, tombstones mark the graves of Mr. and Mrs. Scott and several of their children.
Trapper Lake Trail: Moderate 1-mile loop. The trail meanders through the forest of Davidsonville and partially runs along the banks of Trapper Lake. From beaver gnaw marks to deer tracks to raccoon scat, signs of wildlife are everywhere along this trail.
Black River Trail: Moderate 1-1/2 mile loop. You will enjoy both nature and history along this trail. Black River Trail winds its way through the forest of Davidsonville and alongside the Black River. Turtles and other river animals may be spotted from this trail. Black River Trail also takes you to the older of the two cemeteries in the park, the Phillips/Reeves Cemetery. It is believed that this cemetery was used during the heyday of Davidsonville, from 1815.
Engelberg: A Scenic 20-minute Drive From Pocahontas
The community of Engelberg was founded by Catholic immigrants, mostly from Germany, who settled there in the 1880’s. It’s a scenic 20-minute (one way) drive through the hills to what’s left of the old town: the very active St. John’s Catholic Church, parish hall and priest’s home. The rest of the community pretty much melted away after the automobile replaced the horse and wagon, making a trip into Pocahontas for supplies quick and easy.
Dalton: A Scenic 30-minute Drive From Pocahontas
For a scenic 30-minute (one way) drive through the hills, visit the little town of Dalton, in northern Randolph County. Dalton is located on the beautiful, clear and clean Eleven Point River, the best canoeing river in the county. The best thing to do at Dalton is to visit the Dalton Country Store, run by an Amish Mennonite family. In addition to a great selection of Amish-made foods (jellies, pickles, and lots more), they make wonderful sandwiches to order, using your choice of a large variety of meats and cheeses, served on bread they just baked on-site. The store is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 8 a.m.-5p.m. on Saturday.
The Southwest Trail
An ancient trail that originally ran from Vincennes, Indiana to Natchitoches, Louisiana, known locally as the Old Military Road, later split off from its original route in the 1820s and became better known then as the Southwest Trail-the route settlers from the U.S. took on the way to the newly opened territory of Tejas (Texas).
The first federally sponsored road in Arkansas, which 4/5 of Arkansas’ early population used to enter Arkansas, came into the state at Hix (later Pitman’s) Ferry (1802) in extreme northeast Randolph County, on the Current River, and proceeded diagonally across the county before exiting into Lawrence County at Miller’s Ford just south of Imboden on the Spring River.
The current driving trail, created by the Arkansas legislature, begins at the Arkansas/Missouri state line on Hwy 115, proceeds through Maynard to Pocahontas, takes Hwy 63 to Imboden, then proceeds from Imboden to Smithville and eventually goes on to Little Rock and ends at Texarkana
The Trail of Tears
The Benge Route of the Trail of Tears reflects the tragic relocation of Cherokee and Creek Indian tribes from the southern Appalachians in 1838. The original trail covered the same route as the Southwest Trail in Randolph County (see the previous section and map). It entered Arkansas from Missouri at Hix (then Pitman’s) Ferry and exited the county at Miller’s Ford. This Heritage Trail also takes that same route to Smithville in Lawrence County, then goes west across the Ozark Mountains to the Arkansas/Oklahoma state line west of Fayetteville. Several other branches of The Trail of Tears Heritage Trail take different routes through the state.
Arkansas Civil War Trails
A primary Civil War Heritage Trail takes a similar route as the above two trails through this county, following Highway 115 to Highway 63, from the Arkansas/Missouri state line, then Highway 166 to Davidsonville Historic State Park, then on to Black Rock in Lawrence County. Featured stops on the trail in the county include Maynard Pioneer Park and Museum; Overlook Park and the Civil War River Walk Memorial Trail in Overlook Park, Pocahontas, and Davidsonville Historic State Park. This Civil War Trail ends at Camden in south central Arkansas. Three other Civil War Heritage Trails were also created by the Arkansas legislature, though the one here in Randolph County is by far the most prominent.
Special things you can do here if you come equipped for it:
Hunting and Fishing
Our early settlers depended on hunting and fishing to survive. These sports are still popular here with many local residents and visitors. With five rivers in our county, fishing is a natural activity here. Hunting and fishing are especially popular in our two Wildlife Management Areas, the Dave Donaldson Black River WMA and the R.L. Hankins Mud Creek Upland WMA (directions to the two WMAs are provided in our Activity Book). People here hunt for deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, dove, crow, and waterfowl such as ducks and geese. We have a wide variety of fish in our rivers, creeks and lakes. Fly fishing is especially good in our creeks.
For full information on Arkansas hunting and fishing, regulations, seasons and permits, visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website at www.agfc.com/
Birding (bird watching) is very popular here due to Randolph County’s location on two of the main bird migration routes in the U. S.—the Central Flyway and the Mississippi Flyway. These merge just north of us, and their routes narrow here, concentrating the bird population as many, many bird species use these routes when flying to and from South America and the Caribbean during their seasons of migration, many nesting here each year. When birding here, be sure to watch for bald eagles, white pelicans, and the rare and feared extinct ivory billed woodpecker.
Our county offers excellent opportunities for bird watching as it contains both the uplands of the Ozarks and the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta. Two of the best spots for observing birds are the county’s two Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).
The Dave Donaldson WMA along the Black River in east central Randolph County offers, at various times of the year, one of the western hemisphere’s greatest concentrations of waterfowl. It’s also an excellent place to view the many species that nest or live year around in the riparian zones along the river and the wetland and forest areas. Access is at Shaver’s Eddy, 800 Hite Road, Biggers, AR.
The R. L. Hankins Upland WMA located in the foothills of the Ozarks in north central Randolph County offers the birdwatcher a chance to see an even larger number of bird species. Take the county road off Arkansas Highway 115 at Middlebrook as indicated by the WMA direction sign.
One of the most colorful birds that nests here each year along our rivers and in wetland areas is the beautiful Prothonotary Warbler. This bird, with its bright golden yellow, rose, and slate blue coloration, nests in the cavities of hardwood trees in riparian and wetland situations here.