This two-part activity is for the weekend warrior looking to incorporate paddling and trail running into one day! I highly recommend trying this out even if you are just getting into trail running or paddling.
Directions from Fayetteville: Head out 412E and take 21S towards Kingston, left on 43N to Ponca. It takes about 1.2 hours from Fayetteville to reach the low-water bridge area.
There are two options for stowing your boats while you run. 1.) lock them together and to a tree at the low-water bridge off of Hwy 43. 2.) Call the Buffalo Outdoor Center (they are awesome) and they can run a shuttle for you. Be sure you calculate your finish time, so they know when to drop the boats.
After you lock up your boats or arrange a shuttle, you will take 74 (turn right out of the driveway for the low-water bridge) to Kyles Landing. Park by the bathrooms on the farthest end. For day use, this is free.
You will see the TH for the Buffalo River Trail strait ahead. Take this and it will put you into a pretty intense and rocky hill climb out of the gate. From this start point, you are 7.8 miles to Steel Creek. This section is hard initially, but once you warm up it is super smooth and the views are incredible! There are lots of water sources in the spring, a few waterfalls, and vistas that show off the curve of the mighty Buffalo River. You will descend into Steel Creek and cross the road with some flat spots before climbing again. Breathe! Eat a Gu!
From Steel Creek, you are going to climb up a short bit before coasting again for 1.8 miles. The last section is equally beautiful as you will follow the water below on the trail.
This will shoot you out right at the low-water bridge. If you are keeping a constant pace, you can easily finish this 10.1 mile run in 2.5-3.5 hours.
Once you get to the low-water bridge, you are ready to begin the relaxation portion of the activity. The float back to Kyles Landing is right around 10.3 miles. You can do this section in 2.5, if you are looking to sweat and a bit longer if you want to stop and swim. There are great gravel bars for picnics and a few rope swings here and there too.
I started my adventure at 7:15am from Fayetteville and was off the river by 2:15pm. Everyone's pace is different, but this will at least give you a starting point.
Make sure you bring a quick dry towel. You will for sure want to freshen up once you get to the water. Check the water levels before you plan your trip.
Food: I brought Gu and Clif Bar Shot Bloks for the run and tuna, avocado, bread, and some chips for the float. Don't forget your water!