Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Short Grotto Falls, Engagement Hollow Polyfoss, Arkansas Ozarks

1/7/2015 - Short Grotto Falls, Amy Falls, others in the Engagement Hollow Polyfoss

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location #1: 35.66268,  -93.62127,  1461 feet
  Parking Location #2: 35.66990,  -93.63350,  1050 feet
  Short Grotto Falls:  35.66817,  -93.6283,  1075 feet
  Amy Falls:  35.66672,  -93.62440,  1141 feet
  Unnamed Falls #6:  35.66758,  -93.62092,  1368 feet
  Whiskey Still Falls:  35.66733,  -93.62128,  1328 feet
  Unnamed Falls #4:  35.66722,  -93.62140,  1322 feet
  Unnamed Falls #3:  35.66662,  -93.62237,  1223 feet
  Unnamed Falls #2:  35.66442,  -93.62027,  1342 feet
  Unnamed Falls #1:  35.66403,  -93.62132,  1337 feet
  Fallen Timbers Falls:  35.665351,  -93.62170,  1269 feet
  
Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine. Some of the terrain is a little steep and rugged, so if your dog can't be trusted off leash I would not recommend taking it.

Motorcycle Friendly: Nope, sorry.  If they ever open the bridge from Highway 215 across the Mulberry River at Yale then it might be acceptable.  Otherwise, too much dirt and gravel road for a heavy bike.

GPS files:

Short Grotto Falls
Today I got to visit an area I have had on my list for a while, an area previously untitled but now known as Engagement Hollow.  The power steering on my Explorer went out on Saturday's trip to Secret Falls, but my friend Dan Frew came through and drove us out for today's hike.  Unfortunately, I told Boomer (our German Shepard) that he had to sit this one out.  Dan offered to take him as well, but he tends to get a little car sick on real curvy roads.  It doesn't happen often, but I couldn't take the chance of having him barf in Dan's nice Jeep.  Boomer sulked, but he'll get over it.


Amy Falls
This area is not in Tim Ernst's Waterfalls of Arkansas book, at least not in the current edition.  Brian Emfinger did all the original documentation for this waterfall-rich area, and until very recently had not even given the area a name.  He took a friend into the area last month to propose to his wife-to-be, and named it Engagement Hollow at that time.  The lucky fiance, Amy, now has the waterfall that was the site for the proposal named after her as well.  Now, how cool is that?  Ladies, there are seven more nice sized unnamed waterfalls in this valley.  Grab your significant other and do a little arm twisting before they are gone!


Small Unnamed Chute Falls with Fallen Timber Falls above
This was my first trip into this area, so I did my due diligence the night before.  I reviewed Brian's directions, which you can find at this link.  I also mapped out the route and found that it involved a fair amount of back road driving.  On the maps, it looks like you can get a little short cut into this area by going down Highway 103 all the way to Highway 215, then going back across the Mulberry river on FR-1522 which would put you right at the back of this area.  You can't.  Maybe if they ever open the low water bridge on this road at the Yale community that would be a good route.  But for now, it's a no-go.


Falls #3
To get there, go north on Highway 103 from Clarksville and turn left (west) on CR-4160.  From where you turn north onto Highway 103 from Main Street (Highway 64) in Clarksville, it is 14.4 miles to the left turn onto CR-4160.  There is a sign there that says "Batson Church 5 Miles".  Go 2.8 miles on CR-4160, then turn right (north) on CR-4141.  After about a half mile on CR-4141, bear right onto FR-4401.  This road does have a marker a few yards down it, but is easy to miss.  About 1.5 miles down FR-4401, there is a 'Y'; bear left to stay on FR-4401 an additional 0.8 miles to the first parking location.


Falls #1
From the first parking location you can continue on FR-4401 for about another 1.5 miles, bearing right where it runs into FR-1522, to the second parking location.  Dan and I parked at the first parking location and started our hike there.  Having done it that way, I believe a better way is to park at the second location, then hike back up the road to the first parking location and start hiking down the hollow from the top.  If you have read any of the posts in my hiking blog, you probably have come to the conclusion already that I'm basically lazy and will take the easy way every time.  Hiking back up the road is easy hiking, but it's still uphill.  It is always best to do the uphill hiking early if you have a choice, while your legs are fresh.  Then you can do the bushwhack down the hollow, climb out, and voila - there's your vehicle.  


Falls #3 (background)
Today, it was below freezing all day, with a strong wind gusting to 35 mph.  So in an area like this with water dripping off virtually every bluffline, there was a lot of ice throughout the hollow.  We started out at the top of the hollow, as I said.  Brian had put a link to his GPS track file on his web site, and that certainly made life easier for us.  I imported that into my GPS and we were able to reference it at any time to make sure we were on track.  See the Topo map at the bottom of this post for reference.  

Hiking down from the parking location, we went straight down and across the first drainage, then followed the bluffline around to the first waterfall, Fall #1.  This is a fairly tall, tiered waterfall, and you have to back up a little to actually view the whole thing.


Falls #2
Continuing on around the bluffline to the right, we went up into a box canyon where we found Falls #2.  This is two tiered waterfall, flowing pretty well today.  It also had a good deal of ice built up on the bluff walls and the ground around the bluffline, making getting around somewhat difficult.  Going from Falls #2 on around the bluffline to the right, you are actually above the main creek.  You pass by a long cascade and Fallen Timber Falls down below the bluff cliff from where we hiked.  

Continuing on with the bluffline to the right, we came around and up into the next box canyon with Falls #4 at the top.  When you go into this box canyon, Falls #3 is clearly visible below the bluff.  Although we didn't make it there today, Whiskey Still Falls and Falls #6 are above the Falls #4.  From Falls #4, go back downstream from it to the bluff above Falls #3.  Going downstream, you will find a break in that bluffline in a few yards that will allow you to get down to the level of the main creek.  You can then double back to Falls #3, which is directly below it.  Yeah, I know - this gets confusing when most of the waterfalls don't have names.  I want to maintain some consistency with the way they are named on Brian's web page to prevent even more confusion.  It appears some of these don't match up well with his photos, so next trip in I'll create a drainage map to make it all very clear.


Fallen Timber Falls
From Falls #3, we went back upstream on the main creek to Fallen Timber Falls.  This is actually a fairly good sized waterfall and today had a good deal of flow.  Also, in my opinion, one of the more classic waterfalls in this hollow.  After visiting Fallen Timber Falls, we headed back downstream again.  Passing by Falls #3 again, we continued on the left side of the creek downstream, with the creek to our right.  This was maybe not the best of choices.  When we got to Amy Falls (previously Unnamed Falls #7), we were above a tall bluff cliff and had to go downstream a lot farther than I would have liked to find a break in the bluffline.  Even at that, it was a very steep break and was more of a 'slide on your butt' descent than a hike down.  Next time, I'll stick to the right side of the creek on the way downstream.  That appeared to be a much easier slope down to the base of Amy Falls.


Amy Falls
Amy Falls is a beautiful waterfall in a beautiful setting.  I can see why it was chosen as a location for a marriage proposal.  Today, there was pretty good flow making the waterfall really sing.  Huge icicles all around the bluff surrounding it made it seem all the more spectacular.  Downstream from Amy Falls is another small waterfall, also unnamed.  Compared to the others in this area it is quite small, but very pretty itself.  


Short Grotto Falls
Continuing on downstream, we soon came to Short Grotto Falls.  I had seen only a few photos of this one, but they were fantastic.  I don't know what I expected from a waterfall named 'Short Grotto', but the photos make it look much taller than it is.  Over the years, it has carved out a grotto with very deep overhangs on both sides.  The result is a very uniquely profiled waterfall, like no other that I know of.  It is definitely a very photogenic little waterfall.  Dan and I spent a good deal of time here capturing photos from a variety of viewpoints and lighting.  


Small waterfall downstream from Amy Falls
Up to this point we were using the GPS track file Brian had provided as a general guide.  His track continued on downstream for a distance, then up and out of the creek to the FR-1522 road.  We decided to shortcut that and just went up the valley wall from Short Grotto Falls.  It was a little steep, especially since we were about frozen anyway.  But it probably did cut a chunk of hiking out.  Once we were up out of the hollow and back on the road, it was a pretty easy hiking back to the Jeep.  Uphill, as I said before, but still easy hiking.  Next time I'll park at the lower end and hike up the road to start.


Dan at Fallen Timber Falls
All in all, another great day in the wilderness.  I could have lived without the sub-freezing temperatures and biting wind, but a great day of hiking nonetheless.  I would rate this a moderate to easy hike.  There is no undergrowth to speak of, so even though it is a bushwhack all the way it is an easy one.  This is definitely one I'll come back to again.


GPS Track for Engagement Hollow

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