Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hobo Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

4/15/2014 -  Hobo Falls (2) hike

GPS Coordinates: 
  Parking Location:  35.68913, -93.31722
  East Hobo Falls:  35.68099, -93.33417
  West Hobo Falls:  35.68073, -93.33502
  Unnamed Falls #1:  35.68759, -93.32037
  Unnamed Falls #2:  35.68157, -93.32672

Pet Friendly: Yes, this area should not be a problem for dogs on or off leash.

Motorcycle Friendly: No.  It is almost five miles of road that, frankly, is not well maintained.  Too many water filled potholes to take a street bike on.

East Hobo Falls (23 ft)
Boomer and I loaded up and set out today for Hobo Falls.   I don't know how it got it's name, but I'm sure it has something to do with vagrant drifters.  We didn't see any of those, or anyone else at all, which I have come to accept as the norm.    What we did see is a nice little segment of the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) and some really nice waterfalls.  

Getting there is pretty easy.  From the community of Pelsor (Sand Gap), go 16.2 miles south on Highway 123 then turn right onto FR-1003, aka Johnson County CR-5741. If you are coming from the other direction on Highway 123, this junction is 10.5 miles north of Hagerville.  After you turn north on CR-5741, go 4.7 miles and there is a place to pull off the road and park on the left.

There is an old trace road running west where the parking location is.  That is NOT your trail.  The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) runs right next to this parking location, and that's what you want to get on and head west.  If you have never been on the OHT, it is a pretty well constructed hiking trail running for a couple hundred miles through the Arkansas Ozarks.  Look for the white tags nailed to trees; that's how you will know you are on the OHT.  To get to Hobo Falls, we hike almost all the way there on the OHT.  

Unnamed Falls off the OHT
Water Slide on Cedar Creek
The OHT is a national treasure, cutting through some of the most scenic locations on the face of the earth.  It now totals over two hundred miles long, with the segment we used today extending for 165 miles.  We will only use 1.5 miles of it to get to Hobo Falls, so it gives you a real feel for how much spectacular country it traverses and why I refer to it as a national treasure.  This segment runs along Cedar Creek and crosses other creeks with interesting features.  In fact, shortly after getting on the trail from CR-5741, you pass over a neat pouroff in the upper reaches of Cedar Creek.  We found another really nice unnamed waterfall in a major drainage that feeds into Cedar Creek just above Hobo Falls.  As we approached this creek, I thought I heard falling water, so we went off trail and checked it out.  We found a pretty little waterfall in a box canyon not too far upstream.  The slope up to this waterfall is not too rough or steep, so you might want to check it out, particularly in wet times.

Getting back on trail, we crossed this creek and proceeded on downstream.  There is a campsite just off the OHT here that someone put a lot of effort into, neatly stacking rocks for table, chairs, and fire pit.  There was also what appeared for all the world to be a grave of some kind.  I'm not sure what, if anything, might have been buried there, but it was only about 3 feet long.  At any rate, we weren't touching it.  As the OHT goes down by Cedar Creek, there is also a fairly long cascade (more like a water slide) that goes into a huge emerald pool.

West Hobo Falls (27 ft)
Continuing on downstream, you come to where the OHT crosses Cedar Creek itself.  Today, the water was a little too high and fast to ford where the trail crosses, so we looked a little further upstream and found a place where I could rock-hop across without getting my socks wet.  Once again, I'm grateful my wonderful wife got me a new pair of waterproof hiking boots for an anniversary present.  After crossing Cedar Creek, you cross another smaller creek that flows into Cedar Creek a few yards downstream.  The OHT continues downstream, but this is where we go off trail and follow the little feeder creek upstream.  After less than a hundred yards, this creek splits and goes up two short box canyons.  Looking to the right from this point, you can actually see the East Hobo Falls.  About 50 more yards up the other creek is West Hobo Falls.

Both of these waterfalls were flowing pretty well today, as we had some thunderstorms roll through the area the previous two days.  West Hobo Falls has a lot of large fallen trees obstructing the view until you get close to the falls, but is still a beautiful waterfall.  East Hobo Falls is completely unobstructed, a great photographer's backdrop.  As I mentioned earlier, you can see it clearly from the branch in the creek.  

I would recommend going to these waterfalls during springtime, when there will be plenty of water.  It is about three miles round trip if you stick to the OHT.  As you might tell from my descriptions of our hiking expeditions, we tend to explore quite a bit.  We are easily distracted by the sounds of falling water, interesting side canyons, and just about anything.  In fact, a couple of times today I found myself wandering and lost track of the trail.  Fortunately, the OHT is clearly marked on the version of topo maps my GPS uses, so I can always get back on trail easily.  Boomer helps as well; I have found he usually always finds the best path to get wherever we are headed.  

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