Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pack Rat Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

4/15/2014 -  Pack Rat Falls hike

GPS Coordinates: 
  Parking Location:  35.67663, -93.25463
  Pack Rat Falls:  35.67267, -93.25335

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs on or off leash should be fine. This is a campground, so if your dog is not well behaved around strangers, please keep it on a leash.

Motorcycle Friendly: Yes!  Just like any other vehicle if you can't see how deep the water is when the road crosses Haw Creek, don't cross.

Pack Rat Falls (24 ft)
After spending a couple of hours hiking to Hobo Falls, we still had a lot of afternoon left.  Since the water levels in the creeks looked pretty good, we decided to check out another waterfall that was close to where we had parked.  Pack Rat Falls is in a beautiful little creek canyon, one of those that is really nice in wetter conditions.  So we loaded up, headed back to Highway 123, and made a bee line for the Haw Creek Falls campground.  

Haw Creek Falls (6 ft)
The Haw Creek Falls campground has a large sign on Highway 123, so it's hard to miss.  It is 12.9 miles south of Pelsor (aka Sand Gap), or 13.8 miles north of Hagerville if you come from that direction.  As soon as you turn off the highway onto the campground road, you cross Haw Creek.  This is a low water crossing made of concrete, so you don't have to worry about traction as long as the water is not too deep or too fast.  If you can't tell, stop and check it out, then use your head.  Normally it is perfectly safe for normal cars to cross, but after heavy rain it is a flood zone.

Haw Creek Falls is of course right next to the campground.  As the namesake it is the main attraction but Pack Rat Falls canyon is just as picturesque, if not more so.  Go to the back of the campground on the loop road to the most southeast camping location.  That is the one on the campground road furthest from Haw Creek Falls.  Take the path leading out the back of this camping location, and you immediately round the bluff that was on your right as you drove into the campground.  As you round the bluff, turn right into the creek canyon.  

Pack Rat Falls Creek - with Boomer
This little creek canyon is as pretty as any you will find in the Ozarks.  Oddly, most folks that come here have no idea it is even here.  There were no campers here today, but most summer days we come here there will be at least a couple of other folks camping and enjoying the scenery.  Whenever I chat with campers here, they rarely know about Pack Rat Falls, but jump at the chance to go see it.  Pack Rat Falls is only a quarter mile up this hidden canyon from the campground.

When the creek has plenty of water, as it did today, it tumbles down this canyon creating cascades virtually all the way downstream of the falls.  There is a path of sorts, wherever there can be one, but in a lot of places you just have to rock hop, cross the creek when you need to, and find your way upstream.  It is still an easy hike.  The creek is steep enough to create cascades, but not so steep that you can't easily hike right up the creek canyon.

Today Pack Rat Falls had about as much water as I have ever seen.  The waterfall was just beautiful, as was the creek itself.  This was a nice cap to yet another great day of hiking in the Arkansas Ozarks.  This waterfall is highly recommended anytime there are relatively wet conditions.  Our excuse today was "we were in the area anyway" (excuse #2), but you don't really need an excuse to go see it.  Just get out and do it!

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