Thing to Do

Hike the Cecil Cove Loop

Thunder Canyon Falls, located in a canyon near the Cecil Cove Loop
Thunder Canyon Falls, located in a canyon near the Cecil Cove Loop

Arkansas Tourism

The Cecil Cove Trail begins near the historic Erbie Church, and begins a gentle descent down an old wagon road. The trail winds through the wooded valley following Cecil Creek creating a nice moderate hike for visitors. The trail crosses the Cecil Creek 5 times along this first section of trail, so the creek may not be passable during rainy season due to high water. The trail continues at a nice moderate pace for the first 2.0 miles. The Cecil Cove Trail then begins a steep ascent up the mountain, climbing more than 500 ft. The trail passes old home sites, historic cemeteries, and provides beautiful scenic views during leaf off. The upper section of the trail is known to be fairly muddy throughout much of the year, especially during rainy season. The trail travels another 3.0 miles and intersects with the Compton-Erbie Road. The last section of the trail follows the Compton-Erbie Road down the mountain approximately 2.0 miles, ending at the trailhead where you began.
Details
This is a popular backpacking loop for an overnight hiking/camping trip. For a day trip, plan for 5 to 8 hours to complete the loop.
The Cecil Cove Trail begins near the historic Erbie Church, and begins a gentle descent down an old wagon road. The trail winds through the wooded valley following Cecil Creek creating a nice moderate hike for visitors. The trail crosses the Cecil Creek 5 times along this first section of trail, so the creek may not be passable during rainy season due to high water. The trail continues at a nice moderate pace for the first 2.0 miles. The Cecil Cove Trail then begins a steep ascent up the mountain, climbing more than 500 ft. The trail passes old home sites, historic cemeteries, and provides beautiful scenic views during leaf off. The upper section of the trail is known to be fairly muddy throughout much of the year, especially during rainy season. The trail travels approximately 3.0 miles and intersects with the Old Compton-Erbie Road (The road is extremely rough; vehicle use is not recommended). The last section of the trail follows the Old Compton-Erbie Road down the mountain approximately 2.0 miles, ending at the trailhead where you began.
Pets are not allowed on the Cecil Cove Loop. Service animals are permitted.
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
The Cecil Cove Trailhead is located in the Erbie Historic District of Buffalo National River. This trailhead has a vault toilet available. 

Directions: Take Hwy. 43 south out of Harrison and travel 18 miles to the town of Compton. Turn left across from the Compton Post Office and travel 6.3 miles down the Compton-Erbie Road to the trailhead, which will be on the left. The Compton-Erbie Road is a steep and narrow gravel road that should be driven with caution.

Alternative: Take Hwy. 7 south out of Harrison and travel 17 miles. Turn right onto the Erbie Campground Road (signs posted) and travel 7 miles down the dirt road to the trailhead. The dirt road is fairly rough; 4 wheel drive recommended. The low water crossing past the Erbie Campground may not be passable due to high water. To avoid the river crossing, take the Erbie Cutoff Road off of Hwy. 206 to the trailhead, which will be on your right. This route involves creek crossings that can also be treacherous and impassable during high water.
After major rain events (primarily in springtime), creek crossings may be impassable and dangerous.
Accessibility Information
This trail traverses steep, rocky, uneven terrain and has multiple creek crossings. Service animals permitted.

Buffalo National River

A topographic trail map of the Cecil Cove Loop at Buffalo National River
A topographic trail map of the Cecil Cove Loop at Buffalo National River

Map by Terra Fondriest

Last updated: April 16, 2022