Saturday, December 20, 2014

White Oak Creek Falls Polyfoss area, Arkansas Ozarks

12/20/2014 -  White Oak Creek Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.62991  -93.76665,  1450 feet
  White Oak Creek Falls:  35.62749,  -93.75795,  1342 feet
  Little Spout Cascades:  35.62756,  -93.76148,  1280
  Little Spout Falls:  35.62769,  -93.76141,  1298 feet
  Sloth's Grotto Falls:  35.62982,  -93.76088,  1371 feet
  Naziah Falls:  35.62987,  -93.76159,  1374 feet
  Birthday Falls:  35.63102,  -93.75969,  1468 feet

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs on or off leash should be fine.

Motorcycle Friendly: Not much.  The last five miles are dirt roads, although not too bad.  That doesn't bother some bikers, but I wouldn't take mine to this one.

GPS files:
  GPS track file for five unnamed falls in White Oak drainage (.gpx format) 

White Oak Creek Falls (37 ft)
Our son Scott was home for the holidays from Tucson!  Lots of cactus, but not a lot of waterfalls in the Tucson area, so Scott was wanting to get out in the Ozarks and do a little waterfall hunting.  He brought his brand new hiking boots and everything, virtually chomping at the bit.  We decided it might be best to start moderately easy and see how that went before going on any ten mile bushwhacks, so we settled on the White Oak Creek Falls area.  Going to White Oak Creek Falls itself is fairly easy, and seeing all the other little waterfalls and features in the area is incrementally more difficult.  

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 2.7 miles on Pink Twist Road, then turn left onto Barnes Road (CR-310).  Go 2.8 miles on Barnes Road, and park on the right in a cleared area where an ATV trail cuts across the road.  

Birthday Falls
This was a somewhat special day; it's my birthday (I'm not saying how many).  Just rest assured I am very, very old.  Not older and wiser, just older.  My niece, Gabby had also just given birth to her first child, Naziah, today as well, so we now shared the same birthday.  What does any of this have to do with waterfall hunting?  You'll see later that I am continuing to resist referring to waterfalls as "Unnamed Falls x", and we needed something relevant to the adventure to use for names.

North Fork White Oak Creek
The hike to White Oak Creek Falls is easy - cross the road from the parking area and follow the ATV trail until you come to the top of the waterfall.  It is about a 1.5 mile hike round trip if that is all you do.  Of course, that is not all we do, is it?  Scott, Boomer (our German Shepard), and I started down the trail and came to the first of the two small feeder creeks that cross the ATV trail.  We could hear the waterfall just below the trail as we went by, but skipped it for now.  We intended to visit all the smaller waterfalls in the area on the way back.  
White Oak Creek Falls (37 ft)
We came to the top of White Oak Creek Falls fairly quickly.  If you cross North Fork White Oak Creek on the ATV trail, you can follow the crest of the bluff on that side downstream about 50 yards to a spot where you can cut down to the creek level.  If all you want to do is go to the main waterfall, this is the easiest way in and out.  The creek was running pretty good today, and we had a little difficulty finding a place to cross that wouldn't challenge our waterproof boots.

White Oak Creek Falls is a nice 37 foot waterfall that appears a lot more powerful than it is because all the water funnels through a v-notch in the ledge it spills off.  It should be noted that the creek this waterfall is on is technically the North Fork White Oak Creek, not White Oak Creek.  But hey - who needs a name that long for a waterfall?

North Fork White Oak Creek - with Boomer
From White Oak Creek Falls we went downstream.  If you stick to the base of the bluffline along the creek on the right side (the same side as the ATV trail you came in on) while going downstream, you will come to an area where you can break through and get above the bluffline.  We continued hiking along the creek on this bench until we came to the confluence of the creek we passed over on the ATV trail.  Both creeks you cross on the ATV trail converge and flow down and into North Fork White Oak Creek.

Little Spout Cascades
Just upstream of where this feeder creek flows into North Fork White Oak Creek, there are a number of cascades and small waterfalls.  It is a very picturesque creek, but steep and slippery, so watch your step.  You can get down close to the creek level, but it takes a little climbing and grappling at handholds.  Where the two creeks converge, there is a nice waterfall and cascade where the tributary creek falls into North Fork White Oak Creek.  If you cross this tributary creek, there is a break a few yards downstream where you can get down to creek level, cross the main creek, and get a good view of this waterfall.  Brian Emfinger called this one Little Spout Cascades.

Little Spout Falls
Following the feeder creek back upstream on the right side of this creek, there is another nice waterfall Brian Emfinger called Little Spout Falls.  I tried to find a vantage point that would allow me a shot of Little Spout Falls and the Cascade below it simultaneously, but failed miserably.  Maybe next time I'll find a way to do that from the large rock on the opposite side of the creek. 

Sloth's Grotto Falls
We continued on upstream to the point the two small creeks that cross the ATV trail converged, and followed the one on the right up to a nice eight foot waterfall we called Sloth's Grotto Falls.  Please, I'm begging you - don't ask me why.  Scott's old high school friends will get a kick out of it, but no one else will understand.

From Sloth's Grotto, we went over to the other small creek, the one on the left from where they converged.  Here we found the small waterfall that we heard just below the ATV trail as we crossed that first creek.  By "just below", I mean only a few yards from the trail.  This one I'll call Naziah Falls, for the baby boy my niece Gabby gave birth to today.  This was another nice little waterfall flowing into a pool.  I'm sure in the driest parts of the Summer, these feeder creeks may dry up some.  Today, however, they were pretty little waterfalls in clear Ozarks creeks.  

Naziah Falls
After getting back up on the ATV trail, we decided to explore just a little more.  When we had crossed the second creek on the ATV trail, I looked at the bluffline upstream and above the creek.  At the time, I told Scott "I'll bet there is another waterfall up there".  So we checked it out, and there certainly was.  We stayed on the right hand side of that feeder creek and followed the crest of the bluff on that side up until we came to our last waterfall of the day.  This one I'll call Birthday Falls.  Because it was my birthday, and we were about out of meaningful names.

Scott and Rick - at White Oak Falls
All in all, a great day in the Ozarks.  It was fun spending a little time with Scott since we only see him maybe once or twice a year now.  Once again, we had the great Arkansas Outdoors all to ourselves.  The peace and serenity of some of these locations, and just knowing that there are precious few folks that even see the places we visited today somehow make the experience all the more rewarding.  I would call this an easy hike if all you do is go down to White Oak Creek Falls and back.  We ended up still only hiking three miles, even with all of the bushwhacking along the feeder drainage.  Definitely a recommended hike for folks of all levels of experience.
GPS Track to White Oak Creek Falls

3-D Topo showing our entire hike for the day


  1. Been wondering where that White Oak Falls was....thanks!

    1. You are welcome. Can't believe there's a place in Arkansas you haven't found yet. The whole area around Batson seems to have good areas to explore that few folks get out to.