PONCA — A hiker might feel confused if traveling to Lost Valley for the first time in a while.
The traditional shaded gravel road that led to the parking lot of the highly popular outdoor area has been replaced. The old parking area has been given back to nature as grass is taking over the area.
Parking is now located about a half mile from Highway 43 in a spacious white-graveled lot.
With the new parking lot, an additional third of a mile is added to the hike as it is .16 miles to get to the beginning of the trail.
The new additions were the results of a flooding that took place and damaged some trails along the way in 2017.
Plans were made by the Buffalo National River staff and the project came to fruition this spring. The park was closed in Dec. 2018 and construction was completed and the grounds were reopened on April 18.
The Lost Valley trail leads to some amazing sights and ends with Eden Falls.
With the hike being a little more than a mile, the rewards from the walk are worth any sweat or calories that are lost along the way.
To start on the trail, the hike over Clark Creek may be the hardest part of the hike. The start is over a live creek bank that may have some water in it.
Even if the creek is dry, don’t let that stop the hike in fear that there will be no water flowing at Eden Falls.
After starting the hike, alpinist will be greeted by a graveled path. This path will run almost the entire length of the trip.
When starting the path, there is an amphitheater on the left for National Park Service workshops.
When starting the trail, there are five major points along the way. One of those come early and the rest are located at the end of the trail.
On the right side of the path is Clark Creek. It is the home of Jigsaw Blocks.
Clark Creek is only a 3 mile stream, but it has moved many boulders around and created interesting stacks of rocks.
The creek has been a problem for the trail. It has been out of its banks on several occasions and has washed the trail out.
In 2012, the Park Services had to do major reconstruction as a result of the short creek.
When the gravel path ends, decisions have to be made. It is a loop trail.
A trip to the left will take hikers up a large hill to continue on the trail. A trip to the right will start hikers with the rest of the trail’s highlights.
Only a .1 mile from the fork in the path is a natural bridge.
After exploration of this area, hikers need to get on the trail and progress.
The next item on the path is Cob Cave. Spelunkers have many artifacts to explore in the cave. The cave got its name from the Indians that left corn cobs in the the cave.
Cob Cave is only 150 steps in front of Eden Falls.
Like the Buffalo River, Eden Falls is dependent on rain water to keep it flowing.
The water in the falls changes directions a couple of times. The total fall distance is more than 100 feet with the last part of the waterfall being 53 feet into a pool of water.
For those that are not satisfied with just seeing Eden Falls, there is one last piece of the puzzle for the hike.
The Eden Falls Cave is located above the waterfall. The cave was formed by the water.
Inside the cave about a tenth of a mile is a 35-foot waterfall.
Getting to the cave is a bit of a climb. The path is on the left side of Eden Falls. This can be a dangerous area as hikers have been rescued from this area on several occasions.
The hike can take 45 minutes to complete or it can take half a day depending on how much time is used to explore the surroundings.
Sunblock is not needed for the hike. There is only a few steps where the hike is not completely covered by a canopy of trees. However, the heat of the day can be felt. There are benches along the path that will allow hikers to rest.
Lost Valley will help hikers get lost and leave the pressures of the day behind them.