Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sentinel Rock Falls and Bingham Hollow Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

12/2/2014 -  Sentinel Rock Falls and Bingham Hollow Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.,66092  -93.74544,  1436 feet
  Sentinel Rock Falls:  35.66155,  -93.73088,  1429 feet
  Upper Sentinel Rock Falls:  35.65972,  -93.73048,  1522 feet
  Sentinel Bluff Falls:  35.66319,  -93.73029,  1359 feet
  Sentinel Canyon east break in bluffline:  35.66492,  -93.72938,  1402 feet
  Sentinel Canyon west break in bluffline:  35.66357,  -93.73238,  1388 feet
  Leave road for west bluffline break:  35.66112,  -93.73261,  1534 feet
  Bingham Hollow Falls:  35.66210,  -93.74662,  1491 feet

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine. Some of the terrain is very steep and rugged, so if your dog can't be trusted off leash I would not recommend taking it.

Motorcycle Friendly: Not much.  The last 6.5 miles are dirt roads, and sometimes a little rough.  That doesn't bother some bikers, but I wouldn't take mine to this one.

GPS files:

Bingham Hollow Falls
Boomer and I had been going into waterfall hunting withdrawals, and we still had not seen as much rain as we needed.  It looked like the Mulberry region was getting more of the recent rains, so we settled on a trip up to Bingham Hollow Falls and Sentinel Falls.  Let me give a shout out here to Brian Emfinger for doing a lot of the initial exploratory work and charting out these and many other waterfalls in this part of the Ozarks.  Thanks, Brian!  These waterfalls are also featured in Tim Ernst's Waterfalls of Arkansas book

Parking Location
To get there, take exit 37 from I-40 and head north on Highway 219 for 8.9 miles.  At this point, the pavement ends and you bear left onto Pink Twist Road (CR-88).   Go five miles on Pink Twist Road, then turn left onto Low Gap Road (FR-1504).  Go 1.7 miles on Low Gap Road, and you cross a small creek in a bend of the road with an old logging road immediately after that on the right.  Park here; this is the parking location for both Bingham Hollow Falls and Sentinel Rock Falls.

Upper Sentinel Rock Falls
Since Sentinel Rock Falls was the much longer hike, we decided to tackle that one first.  The old logging road is in pretty good shape, but the locked gate and "no vehicles" sign put the kibosh on driving most of the way.  So Boomer and I set out hiking east on the old logging road for about a mile, to where a creek crosses the road.  The road is mostly on the level and is a quick, easy hike.  Just below the road is a small waterfall that I'll call Upper Sentinel Rock Falls.  Note that only Sentinel Rock Falls and Bingham Hollow Falls have official names, as far as I know.  There are other waterfalls in the area that are unnamed, but I would rather not refer to "Unnamed Falls #x".  So I'll give them names that make sense to me.  

If you continue on the road a few yards further, there is another small creek with yet another waterfall  just below the road.  Both of these upper falls actually feed Sentinel Rock Falls a short distance downstream.  Boomer and I went down to the base of both to check them out.  Upper Sentinel Rock Falls is a nice little classic Ozarks waterfall, about eight feet high.  It's neighboring waterfall is mostly obscured within the crack it falls down inside.  

Sentinel Bluff Falls (~60 ft)
The Sentinel Rock area has beautiful waterfalls that are fairly easy to get to the TOP of.  The problem with this area is that it is very difficult to get down to the BASE of the waterfalls.  And as every waterfall hunter knows, you don't get much out of looking at the top of a waterfall.  Unfortunately, Sentinel Rock is in a very steep, rugged canyon with vertical bluffs running quite a way downstream of Sentinel Rock Falls.  There are breaks in the blufflines on each side, but even these are fairly steep and rock strewn.  Today was a cold, drizzly day and steep slopes covered with wet leaves are especially treacherous.  

We wanted to see the tallest waterfall in the area, which I will call Sentinel Bluff Falls, so we headed down the east side bluffline (to the right) first.  This is the better way down, but this break actually does not take you all the way down to the creek level.  Cut down through this break, then follow the bluffline upstream a little over a tenth of a mile.  That's where this bench takes you to the creek level.  There is a cascade here on the main creek, and if you look to the left at the bluff, Sentinel Bluff Falls spills over the bluff.  I would estimate this at about 60 feet tall.  

Sentinel Rock Falls (52 ft)
Continuing upstream, we came to Sentinel Rock Falls itself (finally!).  The large rock in the center of the waterfall is known as Sentinel Rock, ergo the name.  Today there was not a whole lot of flow, so it was not nearly as spectacular as some of the photos I have seen.  Still, it was plenty pretty to make the trip worthwhile.  Leaving Sentinel Rock Falls, we followed the bluffline around on the left, opposite to the way we came in.  There is a large crag here, and the break in the bluffline is around the corner from that crag.

We headed back up through the break, then headed straight back to the logging road and back to the parking area.  It was below freezing all day, but after a quick lunch break both Boomer and I were ready to go again.  A little cold and a little wet, but Bingham Hollow Falls was right across the road, so we weren't going to miss that.  
Bingham Hollow Falls (51 ft)

Getting to Bingham Hollow Falls is very easy.  The creek you ford on the road 
just before the parking area is one of the feeder creeks to Bingham Hollow.  It's a simple as crossing the road and following the creek downstream.  We went a few yards down the road before cutting down to the creek.  It's a little more open and less of a bushwhack that way, but in any case Bingham Hollow Falls is only about a tenth of a mile downhill from the road.  About a hundred yards downstream, on the right as you face downstream, there is a break in the bluffline allowing you to get down to creek level.  We got down to the base of the falls in no time, and spent some time just soaking up the ambiance.  The waterfall spills off a very large overhang that is just stunning.  

Crag near Sentinel Rock Falls
Boomer went swimming for the umpteenth time, and we wrapped it up and hiked back up to the car.  It was cold and wet all day, but you just can't beat a day in the Ozarks.  Bingham Hollow Falls is a little difficult getting down to the base, so I would have to call it a moderate to difficult bushwhack.  Bingham Hollow, on the other hand, is short and easy.  It is highly recommended for an easy hike with a big, beautiful payoff.

GPS track for Sentinel Falls

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