Only minutes from downtown Clinton lies the Bluffton Preserve, a 985-acre tract of field and forest in the upper Little Red River Watershed. Coursing through it is nearly four miles of the beautiful Archey Fork of the Little Red River.
For informational purposes, some helpful videos of trails developed & maintained by Affordable Trail Solutions have been included below. You can see more about Bluffton and other local trails by following their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXciToHUC2znPlnC5rB_a4A
NOTE TO VISITORS: Please be respectful of your natural surroundings, and the landowners of the surrounding properties. When you visit a site, make sure to leave it as you found it. Clean up any trash and be sure to collect any sporting/camping equipment you bring.
Prickly Pear Trail
The Bluffton Preserve is located at the end of Watergate Road, just 6.5 miles north of Clinton on Hwy 65 N. Turn on Watergate Road, by the Bluffton Cemetery, and continue for 3.8 miles, staying right at both intersections (follow directional signs).
The Bluffton Preserve is still relatively unknown, making for less distractions letting you truly experience nature. With a number of trails established as of July 2020 and more in progress there is a hiking or biking trail for all experience levels. The trail development system is single track in format and with some true backcountry trails and views you are guaranteed no to be disappointed.
The neighbors along Watergate Road and volunteers with Float VBC help us manage and maintain the property. Camping is available on a first come, first serve basis. The hunting rights are leased, so please refrain from hunting and be sure to wear your hunter orange when exploring during hunting season. We ask that you refrain from riding horses and ATVs in the area to help reduce the amount of sediment entering the river. And lastly, please enjoy but leave no trace!
Float, Bike, Hike, and Camp!
This hidden treasure of nature is nestled right along the Archey Fork River making it perfect for swimming, fishing, and kayak launch spot. There are a number of large swimming and fishing holes easily accessible from the road and with camping within walking distance of the river you can take the time to experience all Bluffton has to offer if you wish.
Bluffton is home to a variety of wildlife with the most notable being the yellowcheek darter, known only to swim in the waters of the upper Little Red River, can be found in the Archey Fork, along with an impressive suite of rare species. Bald eagles and osprey are a common site in the winter, while deer and turkey are prevalent year around. And let’s not forget the smallmouth bass!
Ozark Grinder Trail (OGT)
HIKING/BIKING: Retrace the Historic Railway
The Middle Fork offers a number of unique characteristics due to the rail road bed running the river, that was abandoned by the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad that ran between Joplin and Helena. There is still one active bridge from the railroad days being used in Shirley and a number that were abandoned after the flood of 1982. This railroad bed has many uses from ATV trail riding to being the bottom end of the Ozark Grinder Trail (a mountain bike trail stretching 125+ miles from Tyler bend north of Marshall to Shirley).