Arkansas has a few areas with some truly unique rock formations, and the Pedestal Rocks and Kings Bluff area is definitely one of them. The 4.3-mile figure-eight loop shows many unique sandstone bluffs, some of them tall and skinny columns like the hoodoos you see out west. However, these are surrounded by the thick canopy of the Ozark National Forest.
Finding the Trailhead for Pedestal Rocks/Kings Bluff Loop
The trailhead is on Arkansas Highway 16, six miles east of its intersection with Highway 7 at Pelsor, which is about 36 miles north of I-40 via Highway 7.
To read the Ozark National Forest Service’s guide, click here.
There are actually two trails at this trailhead. One for Pedestal Rocks and one for Kings Bluff, however, you can loop them together in a figure-eight. Both trails leave from the same trailhead.
Both the Pedestal Rocks and Kings Bluff Trails follow cliff edges pretty closely. There are signs that warn to keep a tight hold on young children. And most would say it’s not suitable for young children.
Kings Bluff Trail
The Kings Bluff Trail is 1.9 miles of the figure-eight loop. I chose to hike this portion first. When leaving the trailhead, keep to the right to take the Kings Bluff Trail first.
You’ll begin by heading west nearly parallel with the highway. This part of the trail is nice and flat, and it’s almost like your hiking through a tunnel to trees.
At about 0.5 miles the trail begins to descend a little into the valley, and there are four switchbacks before you come to Kings Bluff.
This is a really unique area. It looks like pavement with a 90-degree edge, but the edge is the bluff. A creek flows over the bluff creating a beautiful cascade. The forest service has placed barriers to keep hikers from falling, but caution is still highly advised. I was there after a rain, and the rock was slick under my feet.
From this lookout, the trail follows the bluff in and out of the curves of the mountain. But here the bluff is less defined and more among the trees.
The bluff has deep cracks and crooks, and the trail snakes and dots around it. In a few places, trees grow right up through the crevices of the bluff.
The unique rock formation isn’t the only thing that amazes on this hike, the view is quite nice along this portion of the trail, especially in the fall.
At about mile 1.7 the trail climbs back up to the ridge where it intersects with the Pedestal Rocks Trail at mile 1.9.
Pedestal Rocks Trail
At the intersection, you have the option to go straight, right or left. If you go to the left (or north), you will end up back at the trailhead. It doesn’t matter if you go straight or right. Either option you are going to end up back at this same spot. (Just don’t go left, unless you want to go back to your vehicle.) This is the middle of the figure-eight. I chose to go straight.
By going straight, you hike along the valley and snake in and out of the coves of the mountain. The trail takes you through some beautiful forests. Be on the lookout for unique rock formations through the trees.
At mile 2.8, there’s a large arch to your left. To me, it looks like two pedestal rocks that touch at the top, but however you view it, it’s a marvel.
From here you begin to follow along the bluff which is mostly under the canopy of the forest. Be on the lookout for tall hoodoo-like rock formations through the trees. I found them so interesting.
Again, you will want to be careful as the trail follows in and around the edges of the cliff.
Around mile 3.15 a sign points you back to the parking lot, but you want to pay attention to spur trails that lead you toward the bluffs after you start on this portion.
I almost missed the most iconic pedestal rock because I was tired and nearly skipped the spurs. But I’m glad I didn’t skip them.
Back to the trailhead
The trail begins to leave the bluff and climbs back toward the ridge. At mile 3.45 it picks up with an old road trace. From here it’s pretty easy hiking along the ridge back to the middle of the figure-eight.
Another trail in Arkanas with unique rocks is the Seven Hollows Trail at Petit Jean State Park.
At mile 4.2 you come back to the middle of the eight. Here you want to continue straight and finish out the figure out.
The trail continues for about 0.1 miles and comes back to the trailhead.
Pedestal Rocks/Kings Bluff Trail
This is a unique and beautiful trail system. It’s also nice that you have the option for a shorter hike if you don’t feel up a four-mile hike.
With only about 650 feet of elevation gain and loss, it’s not a difficult trail. However, it can be dangerous as it follows the edges of cliffs for quite a way, so you will want to be extra cautious.
- 4.3 miles figure-eight loop
- Elevation gain and loss 662 feet
- Dogs allowed
- Backcountry camping is allowed, but not below the bluffs