The Big Piney Ranger District is the largest district on the Ozark-St Francis National Forest, encompassing approximately 496,000 acres. The district boundaries include parts of Van Buren, Conway, Searcy, Newton, Johnson, Madison, and Pope Counties. This ranger district is the result of the consolidation of the old Bayou Ranger District (Hector) and the old Buffalo Ranger District (Jasper). Offices are maintained and staffed in both towns
The district can be characterized as one that has tremendous scenery with countless waterfalls and bluff lines, a rural and rustic setting, rugged mountains and jewel-like valleys, and unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities. The district has 4 wilderness areas, 1 research natural area, 4 wild and scenic rivers, nearly 60 miles of the Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail (rated one of the top 10 hiking trails in the U.S.), several renowned rock climbing areas (Sam’s Throne is regionally significant), and 2 scenic byways. The district also has the Moccasin Gap Trail System, a 28-mile multi-use trail which offers enjoyable riding trails, and is easily accessed from the Scenic Byway; the Brock Creek Trail System, a 37-mile single- and double-track motorized trail network; recreation sites that offer day use, as well as camping facilities; Pedestal Rocks, a unique geological formation that is known throughout the area; and several other Special Interest Areas.
The Blanchard Springs Recreation Area offers a rich outdoor experience. Stroll on the paved trail to where Blanchard Springs gushes as a waterfall from the hillside. Swim in the clear waters of the North Sylamore Creek. Hike into the Ozark woods for an hour or a weekend. Try your luck catching rainbow trout from Mirror Lake, an accessible facility. Blanchard Springs Caverns has 3 tours- Dripstone Tour, Wild Cave Tour, & Discovery Tour (Summer only).