Ponca was the longest stop of our one week trip, with us allotting three nights rather than the two nights each in Eureka Springs (AR) and Van Buren (MO). There was one hike in particular I wanted to do near Ponca (Hawksbill Crag), but with what I knew about the hike I thought it was unrealistic we would manage it with our 2 and 4 year old (3 miles round trip with sharp drop-offs at the end). In order to give my husband and myself the best chance of both being able to complete the Hawksbill Crag hike, we opted to spend an extra day in Ponca and take turns doing the hike while the other hung out around the cabin with the kids.
Taking turns doing hikes has been a trend for us since having kids; one person does a quick hike and then the other person does it. It works especially well for anything under a mile where we both want to see the view but one or both kids are napping in the car. Longer hikes are a big more tricky, and we’ve ended up handling a few of them like this trip where we take spend some extra time at a particular destination just so we both have time to do the same hike, separately. This all obviously slows us down quite a bit, but it’s one of the ways we’ve managed to manage sightseeing with small children, and we figure we’ll have an opportunity to revisit many of these U.S. destinations someday when the kids are older.
Luckily, everything worked out and we were both able to carve out some time to drive to the trailhead (30 minutes away) then complete the 3 mile hike to Hawksbill Crag / Whitaker Point and get some late afternoon views of the crag with autumn colors.
We also did some family picnic time around the Buffalo National River and a walk through on the Lost Valley Trail to the Natural Bridge. We didn’t complete the full trail length to Eden Falls, but the kids had a lot of fun climbing on rocks and trying to catch falling leaves…
There were a ton of other hikes and waterfalls in the region so we’ll definitely have to come back sometime. The kids make us quite a bit slower at sightseeing, but we’re grateful we’re able to take these trips and organize activities in a way where everyone gets to do something fun.
Aside from our solo expeditions to Hawksbill Crag and family trips through Lost Valley and the Buffalo National River, I also did some solo morning drives before anyone was awake. These were mostly foggy morning views from around Ponca, including the Low-Water Bridge over the Buffalo River, some moody forest views, foggy mornings at Steel Creek Campgrounds and chasing the Ponca elk through Boxley Valley along Highway 43.