Thing to Do

Paddling Mt. Hersey to Woolum

green canoes on river in front of grey cliff with large hole at river level
Canoers explore Skull Bluff.

NPS

This reach provides numerous bluffs, shoals and pools along the way. About 1 ½ miles before Woolum is The Narrows (“Nars”). This outcrop of limestone has been eroded from both sides by the Buffalo and Richland Creek. Those with no fear of heights may scramble to its 1-4 foot wide top for a view of Richland Valley. Less than ½ mile downstream is Skull Bluff which has the appearance of a human skull due to two strange holes in the bluff. A canoeist can paddle into and out of the holes during low water. This stretch of river has a shuttle trip of approximately 1 hour (23 miles – 9 miles is fairly rough gravel road). The Woolum access is on river left at the confluence with Richland Creek.
Details
The reach is 8.6 miles.  Durations are based on a moderate or average 2 miles per hour river flow. The length of a float trip will vary greatly with changing river levels. Additionally, float times largely depend on if you paddle or not and stop to swim, fish, or explore. Please check with park staff or concessioner for a current estimate on river trip durations.
River access for canoeing, kayaking, john boats with less than 10 horsepower motor depending upon river level.
You are welcome to float and enjoy the river with your dog. Dogs make great boat buddies, but there are some things to take into consideration before you get on the water.
  • Ticks, chiggers, and snakes live in the park. Keep the interaction between these park inhabitants and your pet to a minimum by keeping your dog out of any tall vegetation.
  • Know your dog and their abilities, temperment, and level of stamina. A hot summer day on the river can be draining on people and pets. Know your limits.
  • A life jacket for your dog is a great idea in case you capsize (do not tie your dog to your boat). Even though dogs can swim a life jacket can make it much easier to retrieve your dog in the event of an accident. If you become separated from your dog on the river call the park's 24-hour dispatch at 1-888-692-1162 to make a report.
  • Respect wildlife and other visitors. Remember that when you get out on a gravel bar or access point your dog needs to be leashed in order to protect them, other visitors, and wildlife.
  • Please pick up after your pet. This limits the exposure and spread of potential diseases and keeps our river corridor clean.
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Six miles on gravel road from Highway 65 to river access at Mt Hersey.
The Buffalo River flows freely for 151 miles. Paddling is open year-round, depending on water levels.The river level varies from month to month, year to year, and section of the river depending upon rainfall. The western end of the Buffalo usually has enough water in the spring. More water makes this section attractive for visitors seeking a higher level of challenge with whitewater kayaking. The middle and eastern sections of the river are usually calmer and less challenging.In dry years, the floating season is short and can end before summer ends.
Paddling in daylight is recommended in order to avoid any river hazards. Overnight camping is permitted along the river.
Accessibility Information
River accesses are gravel. No ADA accessible ramps at access locations.

Buffalo National River

river with green grass and tan gravel at right
The river access at Mt. Hersey is 6 miles on a sometimes rough gravel road from Highway 65 between Pindall, AR and Western Grove, AR.

NPS

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Duration:
5 minutes, 48 seconds

A time-lapse video of the paddling experience from Mt. Hersey to Woolum in the Middle District of Buffalo National River.

Last updated: March 12, 2021