Tuesday, April 8, 2014

North Fork Road Falls (2), Arkansas Ozarks

4/8/2014 -  Waterfalls right off North Fork Road

GPS Coordinates: 
  North Fork Road South Falls:  35.57046, -93.01993
  North Fork Road North Falls:  35.57612, -93.01894

Pet Friendly: Yes.  Easy for pets off leash, doable with pets on leash

Motorcycle Friendly: Not acceptable for me, your opinion may differ.  It is about ten miles of gravel road that is pretty good road as far as forest service roads go, but still a little rough going that long on a big road bike.  I have a Harley Electraglide, which is fairly heavy.  If you have a lighter bike and don't mind going slow it is doable.

South Falls, with my favorite photo Boomer
I didn't have a whole lot of time before a storm front was supposed to come through, so Boomer and I thought we would head out to the North Fork Road Falls.  This is two separate waterfalls on different drainages into the North Fork of the Illinois Bayou.  They just happen to be right off the road and super easy to get to.  They are only 24 miles from our house, so even with the nature of forest service roads being what they are, we could make it out there and back in less than three hours easily.

To get there, go to the community of Scottsville, between Dover and Hector on Highway 27.  At Scottsville, turn north on Highway 164, and reset your odometer.  Here are your landmarks on the route after turning onto Highway 164:
  1.5 miles - Cross the bridge over the Illinois Bayou.
  2.9 miles - Highway 164 turns into Granny Gap 1 Road (bear right onto Granny Gap Road).
  3.7 miles - The pavement ends and Granny Gap 1 Road turns into a gravel road.
  4.7 miles - Cross the bridge over the North Fork of the Illinois Bayou.
  5.1 miles - Turn left onto FR-1310, aka North Fork Road.
  5.8 miles - Go straight through the intersection with Adams Mountain Road and stay on North Fork Road.
  13.8 miles - North Fork Road South Falls ("South Falls")
  14.4 miles - North Fork Road North Falls ("North Falls")

South Falls (33 ft)
Just after crossing the creek that feeds South Falls, park on the side of the road.  Make sure you leave enough room for another vehicle to get around you.  This road is not used much and the odds are very slim you will ever see anyone else on the road.  I was on or near the road for about two hours and never saw anyone else on the road.  

You can actually see South Falls from the road, just below the road a few yards.  At least today we could, with Spring coming but no foliage to speak of yet.  But as with any waterfall, you need to get to the base of it to get the full effect.  On the north side of South Falls, there is a break in the bluffline allowing you to get down to the base of the falls.  It is very steep, and loose leaves make it somewhat treacherous, so be careful.

Unnamed Falls South of South Falls
Back down the road on the south side of the falls, the bluffline has no breaks to get down to the South Falls. There is, however, another creek that feeds into the South Falls creek.  This creek also has a nice waterfall about 30 yards below the road.  Similar to South Falls, this is a very steep slope.

Getting back on North Fork Road, we proceeded on another 0.6 miles to North Falls.  Right at the bend in the road where it crosses the creek feeding North Falls is a good place to park. 

North Falls (53 ft)
The road here is a little wider, providing plenty of room on the off chance another vehicle comes along.  North Falls is also just a few yards below the road, but is hidden a little better than South Falls and can't be seen very well from the road.  For North Falls, the best way to get down to the base of the waterfall is on the south side.  

Cascade below North Falls
Once down at the base of North Falls, there is a pretty little cascade that extends down the creek for quite a way.  Be careful around this.  As Boomer and I found out, it is a lot slicker than it looks.  It flows over basically smooth rock and is like a water slide.  Boomer has the advantage of 4-paw drive and it even caught him by surprise.  He slipped and slid, but finally made it back to firm footing before it carried him downstream.  

Climbing back up out of the North Falls canyon back to the road, don't stop quite yet.  Just above the road is another nice little double waterfall.  In fact, we could see this waterfall from where we parked.  We climbed the few yards up to this waterfall as well.  

Unnamed Falls above North Falls
We called it a day after seeing the water features at North Falls.  After Boomer loaded up, we headed for home.  We had plenty of time to see all there was to see and enjoy some Arkansas natural beauty, and still got back home just 2.5 hours from when we left.  This part of the Ozarks is not that far from where we live, but seems very remote.  It's amazing how far you can get from civilization just a few miles off the beaten track.  If you are looking for some waterfalls you can see with very little hiking, this may be just what you need in a very scenic part of the Ozarks.  But then, what part of the Ozarks isn't beautiful?

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