Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cub Hollow Polyfoss Area, Arkansas Ozarks

3/21/2015 - Cub Hollow Polyfoss - Many, many waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude, Longitude, Elevation)
  Parking: 35.80240, -93.12701
  Fuzzy Cub Falls: 35.80241, -93.13214,  1695 ft
  Pappa Cub Falls: 35.80505, -93.13346,  1664 ft
  Baby Cub Falls: 35.80384, -93.13317,  1668 ft
  Twin Cub Falls: 35.80368, -93.13541,  1702 ft
  Roly-Poly Cub Falls: 35.79823, -93.13654,  1396 ft
  Momma Cub Falls: 35.79363, -93.13011, 1657 ft
  Harper Falls:  35.80359,  -93.13402,  1578 ft
  Unnamed Falls #1:  35.80020,  -93.13421,  1476 ft
  Unnamed Falls #2:  35.79962,  -93.13456,  1443 ft
  Bluffline break below Boomer's Cub Falls:  35.79869,  -93.13482,  1483 ft
  Boomer's Cub Falls:  35.79955,  -93.13437,  1443 ft
  Unnamed Falls #3:  35.79275,  -93.13495,  1329 ft
  Bluffline break w/ stone step-up:  35.79401,  -93.13045,  1656 ft

Pet friendly: Iffy.  OK for pets off leash, pets on leash would be extremely difficult due to the amount of undergrowth and rough terrain.  Boomer had some difficulty making some of the climbs and drops I did.  I also had to find a new break through the bluffline west of Momma Cub Falls as he could not make it up the step-up.

Motorcycle friendly: Yes.  Just pull off Hwy 7 and park.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Map with this track is at bottom of this post:
  Cub Hollow GPS Track

Twin Cub Falls - with Boomer, the Mountain Dog
Cub Hollow is a neat little valley tucked away in the Ozark National Forest that is a polyfoss area.  That is, there are a number of waterfalls in a relatively small area.  Some of the waterfalls are fairly high, thanks to the steep and rough terrain. This is an area I had wanted to come back to when water levels were higher, so Boomer and I loaded up and headed north to see it.  

Cub Hollow Parking
To get there, take Highway 7 to the parking location between Lurton and Cowell.  The hollow is directly adjacent to Hwy 7, and there is a good place to park near a bus stop sign 3.8 miles south of Cowell or 7.2 miles north of Pelsor/Sand Gap.  Since you need to make a wide loop to see all the falls in this hollow, you could park anywhere within a quarter mile of this location, but here you have plenty of room off the highway and an old 4-wheeler track that can help you the last quarter mile of the hike.

In Tim Ernst's book, Arkansas Waterfalls, there are some spectacular photos of some of the larger waterfalls in this hollow.  The big ones are all on tributary creeks, not the main creek in Cub Hollow.  Therefore, it is always best to see these in really wet weather conditions, after some significant rain.  We had some of that 'significant' rain a week ago, and the creeks were still running well.  The large waterfalls on the smaller side creeks no doubt looked much better last weekend, but today they were still nice.

Cub Hollow Creek
The main creek in the hollow, which I'll refer to as Cub Hollow Creek, was just about right for the plethora of smaller waterfalls on the main creek.  Regardless of water flow, this is still a raw, beautiful chunk of Arkansas Ozarks, and Cub Hollow Creek is as wild and rough as they come.  A little bit too rough and rugged in some areas, it seems.  Some of the new waterfalls I'll document this trip are extremely difficult to get to.  For point of clarity, it should be noted that Cub Creek actually is in the drainage to the west of Cub Hollow, and junctures with Cub Hollow Creek at (35.79418, -93.13760).  Cub Creek is in the hollow between Cub Hollow and Lonesome Hollow, another of my favorite waterfall areas you can check out here.

Boomer's Cub Falls
After parking, the first fall in the loop is Fuzzy Cub Falls.  It's creek drainage is directly below the parking area.  You can go directly west of the parking area to go down this drainage to the waterfall, but it is extremely steep next to the parking spot, and this will land you in some very thick and brushy undergrowth.  You are better off going further north along Highway 7 for about 60 to 70 yards, then turning west away from the highway.  Stay above the drainage containing Fuzzy Cub Falls, on the right as you are heading downstream.  This will be much easier going than dropping to creek level immediately.  When you are adjacent to Fuzzy Cub Falls, about 0.4 miles from the highway, drop down to creek level at the top of Fuzzy Cub Falls.   

Pappa Cub Falls
You will need to find a way below the bluffline to the base of Fuzzy Cub Falls.  On previous trips, I have climbed down the rock wall to the left of the falls (looking downstream).  This may not work well for those more vertically challenged or unwilling to chance a short fall.  And if you have a dog with you, as I did today, that just isn't going to work.  There are other gaps in the bluffline on the right (north) side.  From the top of Fuzzy Cub Falls, go along the small bench or ledge to the right and in just a few yards you will find a break allowing access to the base of the waterfall.  Today, it had enough flow to be pretty, but probably looked great a week ago. We were just a little too late in the timing of this trip.

Baby Cub Falls
From Fuzzy Cub Falls, follow the base of this bluffline to the north and you will come to the overhang that the 48' high Pappa Cub Falls runs over.  This waterfall is also on a feeder creek and runs into Cub Hollow Creek right at the falls.  If you look upstream from here, you can see Baby Cub Falls.  This is one of the  waterfalls actually on Cub Hollow Creek itself. Ironically, although it is named 'Baby Cub' and is not very tall, it always seems to have significant water flow and in my opinion is one of the prettier waterfalls in this polyfoss.

Twin Cub Falls
From Baby Cub Falls, stay on the west side of the creek and follow the bluffline downstream (with the bluff to your right) to where the next tributary feeds in from the west.  Follow this creek up to almost the top of the bluffline, and that is where you will find Twin Cub Falls, a double falls that runs down the rock face at the top of the bluffline.  This is a steep creek, with cascades running the length from the falls to where it feeds into Cub Hollow Creek.  I also found a small cave about halfway up to Twin Cub Falls.  And no, there was still no hibernating bear.  We saw signs of bear in the area, but no actual bears.

Harper Falls
From Twin Falls, pick your way down the creek to Cub Hollow Creek.  See that huge boulder on the left side of this creek?  Go to the left of it, then down to the juncture of this creek with Cub Hollow Creek.  Make your way back upstream on Cub Hollow Creek about 200 feet and you will find a pretty little waterfall tucked into a grotto made of huge boulders.  This was the first time I had found this beautiful waterfall. I named it Harper Falls after our latest addition to the Henry clan, my nephew and niece's daughter, Harper Renee Henry.  

Unnamed Falls #1
From Harper Falls, Boomer and I followed Cub Hollow Creek downstream.  This is fairly rough terrain, and you just have to pick your way down the rocks as best you can.  Cub Hollow Creek is a beautiful little Ozark creek, and worth the hike in itself.  It is about a half mile from Baby Cub Falls to Roly-Poly Cub Falls. In that stretch of creek, there are numerous small waterfalls in the six to twelve foot range, and a host of cascades and cool water features.  But it is so rough going that the very few hikers that even venture into this area generally stay high above the creek on their way downstream.  There are just too many spots with dead ends and sheer drops, requiring you to go back up very high on the creek bluff to proceed downstream.

Unnamed Falls #2
Today, Boomer and I were intent on exploring the creek from end to end.  In the process, we found a number of really nice smaller waterfalls.  Some of these are more picturesque than the taller ones.  In addition, there are a lot of umbrella magnolias along the creek.  When they are in bloom, this must look a little like paradise.  I have listed GPS coordinates for the best of these waterfalls above, and you can see where they are in the valley on the map at the bottom of this post.  Unnamed Falls #1 is about a quarter mile downstream from Harper Falls.  We were able to pick our way down to most of these cool water features without having to climb all the way back up the creek bluff wall, but got to a dead end at Unnamed Falls #2.  From there, I could see the top of another previously unnamed waterfall that I'm now calling Boomer's Cub Falls, but there was no way down on either side.  To actually get to the Unnamed Falls #2, you need to be on the left side of the creek.  To get below it to Boomer's Cub Falls, you will need to climb up to the top of the bluff on either side to go downstream, then come back upstream at creek level to get to the base of Boomer's Cub Falls.

Below Boomer's Cub Falls
We had to climb all the way above the bluffline from Unnamed Falls #2, and going downstream high on the left side of the creek we came to a side drainage.  I really wanted to go back upstream and check out this new find, so I was probably a bit more careless than I should have been.  We picked our way down this side creek bed to a point where there was about a 12 foot drop at a steep angle on a rock slab.  I ended up sliding down a little roughly (OK, a lot roughly).  Boomer looked down and said "Nope, ain't going to happen".  

Boomer's Cub Falls
Now, Boomer is a German Shepherd.  He is extremely loyal, well trained, and intelligent.  He did what he should do; keep trying to find a way to get back to me.  The intelligent part is what kept him from taking the same route down that I took.  He went all the way back up to the top of the bluff and kept looking.  In the meantime, I went downstream until I could see a slope that didn't have sheer drop offs and wan't all that awful slope-wise all the way up the bluffline.  I finally found a spot (GPS coordinates above) that looked OK from either side of the creek.  After calling Boomer he was able to home in and find the way down.  Whew.  And that's why I'm calling it Boomer's Cub Falls.

We went back upstream to the base of Boomer's Cub Falls, and I'll have to say it was worth all the hassle to get to it.  This is a beautiful waterfall with water sliding off a rock lip and falling about 10 feet to one side of the creek bed, then tumbling on downstream from there.  You can see Unnamed Falls #2 right above it.  After snapping some photos at Boomer's Cub Falls and taking a break, we hydrated before heading downstream.  The water in these creeks is crystal clear and the best tasting water you will find anywhere.

Momma Cub Falls
Continuing on downstream, there are not any more significant falls until you get to Roly-Poly Cub Falls.  The next feeder creek feeding in from the west is where 47' high Roly-Poly Cub Falls is, just above where it feeds into Cub Hollow Creek.  There was more water flow than I have seen on this waterfall before, but again, this was probably in prime form a week ago.  Leaving Roly-Poly Cub Falls, we headed back to the juncture with Cub Hollow Creek and continued downstream.  The creek starts to flatten out a little here and run with a little more shoulder to hike on each side.  

As rugged as this terrain, you sometimes see traces of pioneer life from a century or more ago.  At the juncture with Cub Creek on the the left, look behind the small waterfall where Cub Creek runs into Cub Hollow Creek and you will see the remnants of an old stone wall.  Settlers in the early 1800's used what they had on hand, and what they had here was a lot of rocks.  You see rock walls built as fences back in some of the most remote wilderness in the Ozarks.

Unnamed Falls #3
From Roly-Poly Cub Falls, go another half mile downstream to where the next creek feeds in from the east.  Follow this feeder creek upstream, and you will come to a nice waterfall a short distance upstream, Unnamed Falls #3.  This creek is also fairly steep and rough, a virtual rock scramble all the way up.  It has numerous nice cascades and small waterfalls.  It's a steep enough climb, and mostly rock hopping, so it will wear you out.  But it is a beautiful creek, cascading and tumbling down the mountain.  About 0.4 miles up this feeder creek, you will come to Momma Cub Falls, the last on our big loop.  This 39' high waterfall runs out over a large overhang.  It looked nice today, so it must have been spectacular with the flooding we had a week ago.

Momma Cub Falls - with Boomer
From Momma Cub Falls, bushwhack north-northeast back to the parking location.  To do this, you will need to get above the bluffline that forms Momma Cub Falls.  Follow the rock bluffline to the left of the falls, and it will take you up through a fissure.  At the top of the fissure is a rock against the bluff that gives just enough boost to let you climb above the bluffline.  From there it is just a bushwhack of about 0.6 miles back through the woods to the parking location.  Boomer couldn't make it up the stone step, so we looked for another break.  Just a few yards further down the bluffline, we found a pretty good access point that Boomer could climb right up.  This pet-friendly bluffline break is at (35.79423, -93.13012).
Boomer-friendly bluffline break

I would rate this a difficult bushwhack.  The terrain is rough and steep over most of the loop you hike, and where there isn't a rock scramble there is a lot of undergrowth to deal with.  If you explore down along the creek itself as we did today, you frequently have to climb back up on the bluff.  That repeated climbing will eventually take it's toll on even the most experienced hikers. Because of the undergrowth, I would recommend only hiking this in the Winter.  Also, to get the full scenic impact of the taller waterfalls in the side creeks, I would recommend going to Cub Hollow during very wet times.  
GPS Track - Cub Hollow

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