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. The ground there is low and may be a little soft, so be careful where you put the kickstand down.
GPS track file for Fern Falls Hike (.gpx format)
|Fern Falls (42 feet)|
This is another of the few waterfall hikes you can actually drive on a paved road right to the trail head. Go north on Hwy 7 from the intersection where Hwy 16 branches off to Deer. Go 3.4 miles north from this intersection and look for the 'Highway 7 Scenic Byway' sign. If coming from Jasper, it is 11.4 miles south of Jasper town square. Pull off the highway and park near the sign. The drop off from the highway shoulder is a little steep right where the sign is, so be careful about the angle you pull your vehicle over.
From the sign on Hwy 7, go directly back from the highway, across the utility lines, and find the trail heading off directly away from the highway. This is an old ATV trail, and apparently has not been used for ATVs for some time. I have been to this waterfall several times and have never seen the trail so overgrown. It looked like no one had been here in the six months since my last visit.
|GPS Track to Fern Falls|
Many years ago this trail was an old logging road that went from the ATV trail
|Ferns (of all things) on Trail to Fern Falls|
East Fork Shop Creek is the creek that actually flows over Fern Falls. As you approach the falls you will notice that there are actually several smaller creeks that converge on the main creek just before the waterfall. One of these appears to be spring fed by a spring that has a fairly good flow, and that's probably why Fern Falls usually has at least some water flow. Today, most of the feeder creeks were dry and the main creek was lower than I have ever seen it. Still, Fern Falls is one of those Ozark waterfalls that will be very pretty even with substantially lower flow.
Boomer and I didn't hang around for long. Oddly enough, while I was lamenting the lack of rain the sky clouded over and it started raining. The afternoon temperature had warmed up to the mid 50's, so it didn't hurt us to get a little wet on the way back to the Explorer. The entire round trip hike is only about 1.5 miles, and the elevation change is only about 200 feet, so I would rate the hike as easy even with the encroaching undergrowth. This is one of the waterfalls I keep on my list to take friends and family to that provides a nice payload for minimal hiking effort, and one that almost anyone can make.