Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cub Hollow, Arkansas Ozarks

2/18/2014 - Hike to Cub Hollow major waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:
  Parking: 35.80240, -93.12701
  Fuzzy Cub Falls: 35.80241, -93.13214
  Papa Cub Falls: 35.80505, -93.13346
  Baby Cub Falls: 35.80384, -93.13317
  Twin Cub Falls: 35.80368, -93.13541
  Roly-Poly Cub Falls: 35.79823, -93.13654
  Mama Cub Falls: 35.79363, -93.13011

Pet friendly: Iffy.  OK for pets off leash, pets on leash would be extremely difficult due to the amount of undergrowth and rough terrain.
Motorcycle friendly: Yes.  Just pull off Hwy 7 and park.

Cub Hollow is a neat little valley tucked away in the Ozark National Forest that is a polyfoss area.  That is, there are a number of waterfalls in a relatively small area.  Some of the waterfalls are fairly high, thanks to the steep and rough terrain. I didn't name it, but I'm assuming from the name there is a heavy bear population.  I didn't see any on this day, but it was the middle of February and we have had extremely cold weather the past two weeks, so I am assuming any bears would still be hibernating. 

Cub Hollow Parking
To get there, take Highway 7 to the trailhead between Lurton and Cowell.  The hollow is directly adjacent to Hwy 7, and there is a good place to park near a bus stop sign 3.8 miles south of Cowell or 7.2 miles north of Pelsor/Sand Gap.  Since you need to make a wide loop to see all the falls in this hollow, you could park anywhere within a quarter mile of this location, but here you have plenty of room off the highway and an old 4-wheeler track that can help you the last quarter mile of the hike.

Cub Hollow Creek
In Tim Ernst's book, Arkansas Waterfalls, there are some spectacular photos of some of these falls.  Unfortunately, on this day not so much.  It is still a raw, beautiful chunk of Arkansas wilderness, but most of the falls did not have enough water to really see what they were like.  We have had a serious dry spell, with the only recent precipitation being an ice and snow storm a couple of weeks ago.  We have not had a good rainfall for 5 weeks.  Cub Hollow Creek itself had a fair amount of water, but almost all of the waterfalls are on tributary creeks that feed it.  Those feeder creeks were all still running, but at low water flow levels.

After parking, the first fall in the loop is Fuzzy Cub Falls.  It's creek drainage is directly below the parking area.  You can go directly west of the parking area to go down this drainage to the falls.  This is a 31 foot waterfall, but today there was just a trickle of water so this one was not all that impressive. You will need to find a way below the bluffline to the base of Fuzzy Cub Falls.  I climbed down the rock wall to the left of the falls (looking downstream).  This may not work well for those more vertically challenged or unwilling to chance a short fall.  There are other gaps in the bluffline on the right (north) side.  

Baby Cub Falls
Follow the base of this bluffline to the north and you will come to the overhang that the 48' high Papa Cub Falls runs over.  This falls is on a feeder creek and runs into Cub Hollow Creek right at the falls.  If you look upstream from here, you can see Baby Cub Falls.  This is one of the few waterfalls actually on Cub Hollow Creek itself. Ironically, although it is named 'Baby Cub' and is not very tall, it was one of the few that had enough water this day to make a pretty waterfall.

From Baby Cub Falls, stay on the west side of the creek and follow the bluffline downstream to where the next tributary feeds in from the west.  Follow this creek up to almost the top of the bluffline, and that is where you will find Twin Cub Falls, a double falls that runs down the rock face at the top of the bluffline.  This is a steep creek, with cascades running the length from the falls to where it feeds into Cub Hollow Creek.  I also found a small cave about halfway up to Twin Cub Falls.  And no, there was no hibernating bear.  Yes, I did look.

Twin Cub Falls
From Twin Falls, pick your way down the creek to Cub Hollow Creek, then follow that downstream.  This is fairly rough terrain, and you just have to pick your way down the rocks as best you can.  Cub Hollow Creek is a beautiful little Ozark creek, and worth the hike in itself.  Roly-Poly Cub Falls is about 0.4 miles downstream from where Twin Cub Creek feeds in.  You will pass where Fuzzy Cub Creek feeds in from the east.  The next feeder creek feeding in from the west is where 47' high Roly-Poly Cub Falls is, just above where it feeds into Cub Hollow Creek.  There was just a trickle coming over the falls today, but it is easy to see how spectacular this falls would be in wet weather.

Momma Cub Falls
From Roly-Poly Cub Falls, go another half mile downstream to where the next creek feeds in from the east.  Follow this feeder upstream, and you will come to a nice waterfall a short distance upstream.  This creek is also fairly steep and rough, a virtual rock scramble all the way up.  It has numerous nice cascades and small waterfalls.  About .4 miles up this feeder creek, you will come to Momma Cub Falls, the last on our big loop.  This 39' high waterfall runs out over a large overhang.  It looked nice today, so it must be spectacular with lots of water.

From Momma Cub Falls, bushwhack north-northeast back to the parking location.  To do this, you will need to get above the bluffline that forms Momma Cub Falls.  Follow the rock bluffline to the left of the falls, and it will take you up through a fissure.  At the top of the fissure is a rock against the bluff that gives just enough boost to let you climb above the bluffline.  From there it is just a bushwhack back through the woods to the parking location.

I would rate this a difficult bushwhack.  The terrain is rough and steep over most of the loop you hike, and where there isn't a rock scramble there is a lot of undergrowth to deal with.  Because of the undergrowth, I would recommend only hiking this in the Winter.  Also, only in wet weather to get the full scenic impact of the waterfalls.  

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