Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fern Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

01/14/2014 Hike to Fern Falls

GPS coordinates:
  Fern Falls: N35.89748, W93.19249
  Parking location: N35.89291, W93.19023
  Turn on trail: N35.89332, W93.19416

Pet friendly: Yes.  Easy open trail, bypasses downed trees and obstacles.

Motorcycle friendly: Yes.  Just pull off Hwy 7 and park.

GPS files:
  GPS track file (.gpx format)
  Route file (.anr format)

If you are looking for a quick and easy hike to see a fantastic waterfall, this may fit the bill nicely.  Fern Falls is easy to get to, easy to find, a short and easy hike, and yet has a beautiful waterfall as a payoff after hiking less than a mile.
Getting there is easy.  This is one of the few waterfall hikes you can actually drive on a paved road to the trail head.  Go north on Hwy 7 from the intersection where Hwy 16 branches off to Deer.  Go 3.4 miles north of this intersection and look for the Highway 7 Scenic Byway sign.  If coming from Jasper, it is 11.4 miles south of Jasper square. Pull off the highway and park near the sign.  

GPS Track of Hiking Route
This is a short 1.5 mile round trip hike, and fairly easy going.  The total elevation drop to the falls is about 200 feet, so the return climb uphill is not bad either.

The hike is fairly easy also, as there is a trail to follow the entire way.  I would not even classify this as a bushwhack.  Go directly back away from Hwy 7 behind the sign you parked by.  There is an old logging road that looks like it is used by ATV's.  Folks have cut fallen trees off the trail to keep it open.  In some areas, the trail diverts from the old trace road around fallen trees, and someone hss marked all those locations with trail ribbon.  The trail is used enough that it is clearly discernible.  Follow the trail about 0.2 miles from the trail head and turn right onto another intersecting old logging road.  The coordinates for this turn are listed above.  This old road has much more fallen timber due to past ice storms, and the trail meanders a little more but is still easy to follow.  It drops down to East Fork Shop Creek and follows it to Fern Falls.  The trail takes you right to the top of the falls.  

To get to the base of the falls, you need to cross over to the west side of the creek.  About 40 feet back from the falls, there are some large rocks that make a dry crossing easy.  Follow the bluff line around the top of the cliff and you will come to a path down next to the cliff.  

Fern Falls

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