See Unusual Rock Formations While Hiking the Pedestal Rocks and Kings Bluff Trails

Two bisecting trails, Pedestal Rocks and the Kings Bluff, offer stunning views of the Illinois Bayou Basin, unique rock formations and, if you’re lucky, a 100-foot waterfall.

By Vivian Wheeler

Oct 2019

Pedestal Rocks in the Ozarks
Photo courtesy Arkansas Parks & TourismThe rock spires along the trail are formed by erosion. Their unusual shape makes them stand out from the usual bluffs and boulders found in the Ozarks.

Located in the Ozark National Forest, the Pedestal Rocks and Kings Bluff trails are two short looped hikes that share a trailhead and each have scenic payoffs. From the parking area the trail leads into the woods and then splits. Go right for the Kings Bluff Trail, which is 1.7 miles long and leads to a large flat bluff with an incredible view. You’ll hit this bluff after about three-quarters of a mile. Take in the fall colors, as it overlooks the Illinois Bayou basin below. During wet weather, you’ll find an impressive waterfall toward the north end of the bluff line. At nearly 100 feet, Kings Bluff Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Ozarks. Be careful exploring, as it can be slippery.

Once you’ve taken in the views, pick up the trail left of the main bluff. From here you’ll come across a smaller waterfall (weather providing). The trail follows a rocky bluff line offering more striking views of the valley. Continue along the trail until you hit a three-way intersection. Turn right and hop onto the Pedestal Rocks Trail. The Pedestal Rocks are large jagged rock spires carved away by erosion. The trail runs 2.2 miles, and for the first mile or so you’ll be in the woods. Look for a sign that says you’re halfway through the loop. Shortly after this, the Pedestal Rocks will appear. As the name suggests, pedestals are spires that are skinnier on the bottom and larger on top. There are several established and fenced-in overlooks in the next section of the trail that offer views of these majestic rocks formations.

Autumn is a wonderful time to hit the trail, but if you want the best views of the pedestals, we recommend going in winter or early spring. Some hikers like to climb down near the base of the pedestals to explore the caves, but be careful, as it's steep and can be slippery. After exploring the pedestals, continue until you hit Arch Rock. From here, it’s less than a mile back to the trailhead.

Pedestal Rocks and Kings Bluff Trails Information

2 hours and 30 minutes south from Springfield, MO
Difficulty: Moderate | Length: 3.9 miles | Kid- and Dog-Friendly: Maybe (there are some close ledges, so be careful with kids and pets)
The Big Payoff: Kings Bluff | Photo-Op: The Pedestal Rocks

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