11-09-2018 Bailey Falls
GPS Coordinates: (Latitude, Longitude, Elevation)
Parking for Bailey Falls: 35.73473 -92.93368, 1258 ft.
Bailey Falls: 35.72905, -92.92902, 1332 ft.
Bailey UNF #1: 35.72995, -92.92916, 1332 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Dogs off leash should be OK. This is a bushwhack all the way and you have to cross Falling Water Creek, which will have a lot of flow when there is enough for Bailey Falls to look good.
Hiking Statistics: This is a short hike without a lot of elevation change. That being said, you do have to cross Falling Water Creek and will cross the creek in this drainage several times. It was only 1.3 miles round trip to Bailey Falls, with a minimum-to-maximum elevation change of only 220 feet. I would rate this an easy to moderate hike.
GPS files (.gpx format) - See maps at the bottom of this blog post
Falling Water Creek area waypoints
Bailey Falls track
Falling Water Creek area waypoints
Bailey Falls track
Links to blog posts for other nearby areas:
The Falling Water Creek area is one of the most prolific polyfoss areas in the world. As you can see from the links to blog posts in the area, there are about a bazillion of them that I have hiked and made blog posts for. Some are featured in Tim Ernst's excellent guidebook, Arkansas Waterfalls. This guidebook is what got me started chasing waterfalls many years ago, and is highly recommended. Many of the waterfalls in this area are not featured in the guidebook, and it seems like every little drainage has a nice waterfall or two, or sometimes a dozen. Of course, you drive right by Falling Water Falls on the way to the parking location as well. There are a couple of hollows north of Falling Water Falls that my friend Dan Frew hiked a few months ago that I have been meaning to hike ever since and finally headed out to today. Boomer (our German Shepherd) and I got a late start, but finally got going. We stopped to help a couple of teenagers with a flat tire which delayed us even more but did make me feel better.
|Bailey Cole Falls|
The first of these hollows is the drainage containing Bailey Cole Creek, a fairly good sized hollow for this area. The second is an unnamed hollow with an unnamed creek but has a nice waterfall called Bailey Falls. So, to be clear, Bailey Falls is NOT on Bailey Cole Creek or even in the same drainage. Both drainages run adjacent to each other, draining into Falling Water Creek. To make things a little more confusing, there is another Bailey Cole Creek. The headwaters for the two creeks are less than a mile apart, with one flowing north of Highway 16 into Falling Water Creek and the other flowing south of Highway 16 into the Middle Fork Illinois Bayou. So, to be clear AGAIN, we are talking only about the Bailey (whoever that was) stuff in the Falling Water Creek area.
|Parking location off Falling Water Road|
As it turns out, due to an unfortunate mishap with my camera I only hiked up to Bailey Falls and back. I'll get back to the rest of these hollows soon. Getting to the parking location is straightforward. From Pelsor (Sand Gap), go 9.9 miles east on Highway 16, through the small community of Ben Hur, and turn left (north) on Falling Water Road. This is the first left after going through Ben Hur, and there is a sign here that says "Garrison Falling Water Horse Camp". Go 4.0 miles on Falling Water Road and park at the campsite on the right, next to Falling Water Creek. This is midway between Falling Water Falls and the low water bridge downstream. The drainage containing Bailey Falls flows into the other side of Falling Water Creek just upstream of the campsite.
I crossed Falling Water Creek upstream of the creek junction, and even in the widest spot I could find, it was still fairly fast and too deep to cross without wading. Today, I was trying out some creek waders that my friend Dan Breedlove had recommended. They cover the entire leg, have good traction, and are very inexpensive ($14.95 on Amazon). I had previously used large garbage bags I fondly refer to as "Rick's redneck creek waders", but these are much better and hold up for more than one use. The creek was knee deep and fast moving, and the new waders worked great. On the other side, I put them in my pack. They collapse down and are very compact and light.
|Unnamed Falls #1|
Hiking upstream, there is an old trace road that crosses the creek a couple of times but runs mostly on the right side as you face upstream. I had to cross the creek a handful of times, but overall this bushwhack is pretty easy. About a mile upstream from the confluence with Falling Water Creek, you come to Falls #1 in a side drainage. This is where things started going south for me. I set up and took a shot of Falls #1, then when I moved with the tripod and camera to a different perspective, both boots hit incredibly slick rocks and down I went. As I fell, the tripod snagged a tree root and the camera came down hard on a rock, right on the ND filter I had on the lens. The filter was crimped onto the lens threads from being bent on impact, and I couldn't budge it. Dang.
Now my Samsung S8 Active was my only camera, but I was determined to finish hiking this hollow. Boomer and I hiked to Bailey Falls, only about 150 yards further upstream. It is a nice waterfall, about 12 feet tall, with a somewhat unique geometry on the main creek in this little hollow. Today, it was still flowing quite well from the heavy rains more than a week ago. We hung out at Bailey Falls for a while, doing what I could with a phone camera, then started upstream. I found a bluffline break that I could climb through easily enough, but there was a jump of about four feet that Boomer just couldn't make.
We probably could have found another way above the bluff downstream a bit, but this was the last straw on what had become a day filled with delays. I still had to get home in time to get cleaned up and take Bethany out for date night, so I decided to call it a day and come back out another day with a working camera. Hiking back downstream was easy, and getting the creek waders out and cross Falling Water Creek worked really well again. Boomer had to swim part of the crossing and got swept downstream a little, but he loves that stuff. We loaded up in the FJ and headed for home, vowing to come back for another shot at this great little area.
|GPS track for Bailey Falls hike|