Monday, June 2, 2014

Fuzzybutt, Horsetail, and Hwy 123 Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

4/9/2014 -  Fuzzybutt Falls, Horsetail Falls, Haw Creek Falls and Highway 123 Falls

Scott and Boomer at Fuzzybutt Falls
Today, we really debated whether it was wise to get out and do any hiking.  There was a high probability of rain, but we wanted to get out and chase some waterfalls.  Our son Scott had come home from Tucson to visit almost two weeks ago, but because of several days of light rainy weather and life just getting in the way, we had not been able to get out in the Ozarks.  Scott was planning to leave late tomorrow, so Bethany, Scott, Boomer, and I loaded up and decided to go for it.  We got sprinkled on a couple of times, but all in all we had a great day of hiking and stayed relatively dry.

It was also Boomer's first time back in the woods since he was bit by a copperhead almost a month ago.  He was happy as a pig in poop to get his foot finally healed and to get that cone off his head.  Boomer was cleared by the vet just yesterday, but we weren't sure how he would take to being out in bushwhack areas.  So we looked for some short hikes not too far off the beaten path, and such that it wouldn't be too far to get back to the car in the event of heavy rain.  

I won't go into how to get to these falls since I have detailed that extensively in previous posts.  Look at these links for detailed "how to get there" and other information:

Fuzzybutt Falls, Six Finger Falls, and Horsetail Falls
Highway 123 Falls

Fuzzybutt Falls, (16 ft)
We started out with a trip out to the Richland Wilderness, stopping at Falling Water Falls for a while, then going to the low water bridge to hike the north side of Falling Water Creek.  We hiked the longer leg first, out to Fuzzybutt Falls.  This was the first time Scott had been to any of these local waterfalls, so Falling Water Falls and Fuzzybutt Falls were a pretty good indoctrination.  Fuzzybutt Falls is one of our personal favorites, and one we find ourselves going back to again and again.  The waterfall grotto is one of the most serene, peaceful, places on earth.  

Next up was Six Finger Falls, so we backtracked up the trail to that point.  We had noticed at Falling Water Falls that the creek seemed to have a pretty good flow today, so our expectations were pretty high for the other falls.  Six Finger Falls is the only other one actually on Falling Water Creek, and it was beautiful as always today.  This is one of those very easy to get to waterfalls that I still have on my list for visiting right after a gully-washing rain.  I've seen some photos of it in flood conditions, but still looking forward to seeing that in person.

Lower Horsetail Falls (70 ft)
After leaving Six Finger Falls, we went back downstream to where the trail joins the horse trail, and started back upstream toward the low water bridge.  On the way down to Fuzzybutt Falls, we had noticed that Flat Stanley Falls was virtually dry.  Since that is the creek fed by Horsetail Falls, it did not bode well for the water flow upstream.  Still, we have a lot of experience with creeks in the Ozarks being completely dry at points and still having pretty good water flow upstream.  It is not uncommon at all for the creeks in this area to "go underground".  That was indeed the case today.  The creek Horsetail Falls is on was dry most of the way upstream, only getting some surface water flow just below Lower Horsetail Falls itself.  That did make it easier to squeeze through the creek bed to the base of the waterfall, but the waterfall itself was a little disappointing in that it was markedly less strong than the last time we had been here.

Haw Creek Falls
With the poor flow at Horsetail Falls, it didn't seem worthwhile to go up to the Upper Horsetail Falls, so we headed back the rest of the way to the bridge to take a lunch break.  After lunch, we headed out for a couple of quick stops on the way home.  Our first stop was Haw Creek Falls; it is so easy to get to, it is almost a crime to just pass it by on the highway.  This time, Haw Creek Falls was flowing pretty good, but we have seen it much higher on previous visits.  

We also wanted to scout the campground for our nephew and his family, who were planning a camping trip in a couple of weeks.  There was not a single campsite in use!  Hard to believe for such a beautiful location, and on a
Highway 123 Falls (47 ft)
weekend in early summer to boot.  There were a couple of cars in the campsites next to the falls, but these were just other day-use folks like us that stopped by to see the falls.

We decided against making the hike up to Pack Rat Falls, because Scott had twisted his ankle earlier.  While this hike was short, it involves a fair amount of rock hopping up the creek bed.   There were two other couples there wanting to do just that, however.  We chatted with them for a while and gave directions on exactly how to get to the waterfall, then left for our last stop of the day. 

Rick and Boomer at Highway 123 Falls
Highway 123 Falls is another easy to get to waterfall that most people don't seem to even know about.  I'm always curious to see how much flow this waterfall has since it usually seems to have a decent flow even when the creek itself is dry.  Today it was exactly that way.  The creek was completely dry at the highway, and indeed almost all the way up to the waterfall itself.  It seemed like the waterfall hit the rocks below and immediately disappeared underground.  The waterfall was still pretty nice, and so easy to get to it is also one you just need to stop and see whenever in the area.

All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable day out in the woods chasing waterfalls.  We got to spend some quality time with our son that we normally go months without seeing, and Boomer got to get out (finally!) and be the mountain dog that he is.  It started sprinkling on us a couple of times, but rain turned out to not be an issue at all today.

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