Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fern Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

4/28/2014 Hike to Fern Falls

GPS coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking location: 35.89291, -93.19023,  2045 feet
  Turn on trail: 35.89332, -93.19416,  2010 feet
  Fern Falls: 35.89748, -93.19249,  1851 feet

Pet friendly: Yes.  Easy open trail, with bypasses around downed trees and obstacles.  As always, be careful around the top of the waterfall.

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

GPS files:
  GPS track file for Fern Falls Hike (.gpx format) 

Fern Falls (42')
After leaving Lonesome Hollow Falls, Fern Falls was next on our list.  This was another beautiful waterfall that I had been to before, but neither Bethany nor Boomer had made the trip yet.  This was another easy hike with a big payoff.

From where we had parked near the Cowell cemetery, all we had to do was get back on Highway 7 and go north a little over 6 miles, and park next to the scenic byway sign.  I won't reiterate the detailed directions on how to get to the falls, since you can get that information on my previous post for Fern Falls.  Click on the link here to access that post and the detailed directions.

After you veer right onto the trail going down along the creek, it is still a well defined trail.  That being said, someone wanted to make really sure you stayed on the right trail and blazed it with red trail ribbon on trees all the way down.  Where the trees had fallen on the old logging road, they were especially careful to blaze every few feet along the trail bypassing the downed trees. The hike to the falls was very nice.   Everything was getting fully greened up for springtime, and the dogwoods were in full bloom along the way.   Having been here before, we didn't even waste time at the top of the falls.  You can't really see anything from the top, and the best place to cross the creek is about 40 feet upstream where even a short person can rock hop.  

Dogwoods Along The Trail
Over on the west side of the creek, there is a path over to a break in the bluffline that leads right down to the bottom of the ledge that Fern Falls goes over.  This area also did not seem to get nearly as much rain as we had received yesterday, but it got enough for the falls to be flowing well and looking their best.  Fern Falls is a somewhat classic Ozark waterfall, flowing out over a large ledge, then crashing onto the rocks below and falling into a large pool.  Of course, Bethany could not be satisfied with photos taken below the ledge and had to get further down to downstream of the pool.   The best way to do that is to go behind the waterfall all the way around the grotto, then it is an easy climb down to the pool.  

This was the second on our "go back and see these waterfalls after a good rain" list, and it did not disappoint.  Fern Falls looked spectacular today.  As with all the waterfalls we visit, photos and videos are really a poor substitute to being there.  My GPS track showed it to be only 0.62 miles each way, and it is a very easy hike.  The trail is well defined with a very easy gradient, dropping less than 200 feet over the length of the trail.  Fern Falls also goes onto our quick hit list of hikes we can take even with friends and family that are novice hikers.  We'll be back!

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