Friday, January 16, 2015

Hell's Hollow Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

1/16/2015 -  Hell's Hollow Falls

Pet Friendly: It is private land, and the owner does have dogs of her own, so ask first.  There are a couple of ~three foot steps at the bluffline break that Boomer may have trouble with, but a dog his size should be OK. 

Motorcycle Friendly: Paved road right to the owner's house

Bethany at Hell's Hollow Falls
I had been trying to get Bethany to relax and take some time off from her business, and what better way to relax than to forage out into the Ozarks.  Being out of cell phone range adds considerably to the ability to get away!  I managed to talk her into putting work aside, but she insisted on being back by noon, so I thought of Hell's Hollow.  This is an area I had not been to yet, as it is on private land.  Being on someone else's property brings with it additional considerations, so I tend to stay on the vast public lands virtually on our doorstep.  But with a shorter window today, this seemed perfect as it is only about six miles from our home.  It is on private land, so we left Boomer at home and I won't be publishing directional data with this post.

Icicles 20 feet long in Hell's Hollow
Hell's Hollow Falls is almost unknown in modern times.  A friend, Dan Frew, does a lot of research into Arkansas history and spends an inordinate amount of time exploring in the great Arkansas outdoors.  Dan had found a reference in an old book from the 1800's on the history of the area, and in that was a photo of "Devil's Hollow", with German pioneers in front of a waterfall.  The text discussed this as being in the Augsburg area, which came as somewhat of a surprise.  Dan had grown up in the Hector area, and had never heard of any waterfalls in the Augsburg area.  Bethany and I had lived only five miles from Augsburg since we moved to Arkansas in 1991, and had never heard of such.  

So this was intriguing, indeed.  As chance would have it, Dan was discussing this with a mutual friend who said, "I know where that is!"  He had hunted here, and was related in some manner to almost everyone that lived in the Augsburg area.  This hollow, which over the years had become known as "Hell's Hollow", instead of "Devil's Hollow", was on property owned by his relatives for generations.  It is owned today by his cousin, Kathleen.  

Rick at Hell's Hollow Creek
I gave the owner a call, and she not only agreed to let us hike out to the waterfall, but offered to give us detailed directions.  When we arrived at her house, she did much more than that.  She chatted us up for a bit, we exchanged stories about her cousin, then she offered to drive us back into her property about a half mile.  From that point she gave us detailed directions to the hollow and instructions for getting down to the base of the waterfall.  We're used to folks in the country being friendly and helpful, but she took it to a whole new level.  

'Bear Crack' Leading Down To Creek Level
Getting there was fairly easy.  Kathleen drove us about a half mile, and from there we followed an ATV trail for another half mile to the top of Hell's Hollow Falls.  Hell's Hollow at that point is fairly deep and steep, with precipitous sandstone cliffs all around the waterfall.  We hiked along the top of the bluffline about 90 yards downstream and found a break in the bluffline through which we could make our way down.   Once below the top of the bluff cliff, there was a bear crack leading down to creek level.  As with most bear cracks, it was a little steep but easily doable.  We then just had a short hike back along the base of the bluff cliff to the waterfall.

Hell's Hollow Falls
The creek running through Hell's Hollow appears to be one of those little spring fed creeks that keep a decent amount of flow all the time.  It had been almost two weeks since we had received any appreciable precipitation, but it still had a good amount of water flow.  This is another of those beautiful places in the natural state that photos can't really do justice to.  It is a little awe inspiring to find yourself in a place like this, knowing that only a handful of people even know of it's existence.  According to the landowner, it gets very few visitors now.  Many years ago she remembered playing and swimming there in her youth, but it rarely sees any human presence now.

Rick and Bethany - at Hell's Hollow Falls
After enjoying the beauty of the area and taking the requisite photos, we headed back the way we came.  The hike back was only about a mile to where we had parked at Kathleen's house.  The only elevation change to speak of was the descent down into the hollow and back out, and that was only about a hundred feet at the point of our bluffline break.

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