DeSoto Bluff, as it's known locally, is named for the famed Spanish explorer / conquistador even though evidence of his actually stepping foot there is hard to find. Much more likely is that members of the Caddo Tribe and the explorers Hunter and Dunbar took in the majestic view and surveyed the landscape from its peak. Nevertheless, the bluff which overlooks the Ouachita River valley is embedded in the story of this place and is one of the most picturesque sites in Arkadelphia. With an afternoon off, we decided to go find it, the only problem being that we didn't have any idea about how to get there.
The best clue we had was that Feaster Trail would soon be extended to connect with the Bluff. We knew where Feaster Trail was so we followed it to its end and then began our search. After almost giving up, I spotted what appeared to be an overgrown path leading into the Kudzu draped woods. Why not. We took the path up and up along a steep embankment while being devoured by hungry mosquitos.
It was so steep at one point that an improvised climbing rope tied to a tree had been placed to assist novices like us. Eventually we reached a plateau and saw ahead of us an opening in the trees...the Bluff, we thought... Almost.
Feeling victorious we made our way home, but not before Ashley suggested we try the one other lead to the Bluff we'd heard about. This one involved cutting down a barely noticeable dirt road just south of the Carmart. The gate was open so in we went (thank you for all-wheel drive).
When we reached the end of the road and saw the iconic view of the river below us and the Ouachita mountains spreading out across the horizon, it became clear that the bluff we had climbed to earlier wasn't The Bluff but just a clearing in the forest far below our current vantage point. Here, was the beloved place of many a local painter and high school sweetheart. Mission accomplished.