PONCA — It could be a scene from an Indiana Jones movie.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones (an archeologist) is running to get away from a very large boulder that is rolling down a path.
This same scene could play out someday in the Ponca area with Balanced Rock.
Balanced Rock is a huge boulder that is affixed at the top of a bluff line along the Leatherwood Creek area of the Buffalo National River.
The rock formation is one worth viewing. There is a waterfall under the crowning boulder that cascades down. In dryer parts of the season, it is a small stream, but during the rainy parts of late winter and spring, the falls is a powerful force.
Balanced Rock is located along the Leatherwood Creek which is on the Buffalo National River. The creek empties into the river at the Ponca low water bridge.
The trailhead for the hike is a little hard to find. Alpinist should cross the low water bridge from the parking area.
After crossing the bridge there is a very visible trail with a sign pointing to Boxley. That trail is the Buffalo River Trial and that is not the path to take.
About 10 feet from the beginning of the BRT and on the left, there is a small area that appears to be a path. This path is hard to find as the natural growth blocks the entrance. The first 15 feet of the trail are hard because of the bushwhacking that has to occur to begin the trail.
The path is on the right side of the creek and works its way through the growth, but it stays close to the creek bed.
There are paths that run on both side of the creek bed. The entire trail has a loop with trails on either side of the creek.
Take either side, but the final destination is just over half a mile from the beginning of the trailhead.
Balanced Rock doesn’t sit on the creek bed and is not visible from the path. It is hard to find the path that leads to the waterfall.
There are two markers that will help in finding the path to take to Balanced Rock. The first will be on the left side of the creek when traveling south.
This area has a stair step look and it may have enough water to make a waterfall. In the dry times, there is still water that drips down the rocks.
Another marker to find the path that is needed to go to Balanced Rock is on the right side of the creek. There is a level area, which may be the only on the hike, on the right side. It is the site of a historical homestead. All that is left is a chimney and some rocks that outlined the home.
Those rocks are moss covered now, but they also set the location for the waterfall.
The path for Balanced Rock is across the creek for this homestead.
Once the path is found on the right side of the waterfall that is on the creek bed, it will lead hikers up the hill. The path can be muddy. If it is muddy, it can be slippery.
Traveling up the hill there are several small trees that can be used to help balance. These trees can be used on the way down as well.
Continue to follow the path up the hill. It will lead you to V-slot waterfall.
Balanced Rock is located in the Ponca area. Visitors should take their favorite route to Ponca and then travel south of the intersection of Arkansas highway 43 and 74. Turn east off of Highway 43 and travel a quarter of a mile to the parking area. Park at this location and travel across the low water bridge to begin the journey.