Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fiddlehead Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

3/14/2015 - Fiddlehead Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.52569,  -92.86046,  1326 ft
  Fiddlehead Falls:  35.53653,  -92.86111,  1232 ft
  Lower Fiddlehead Falls:  35.53665,  -92.86222,  1240 ft

Pet Friendly: Yes.  No problem for dogs off leash. 

Motorcycle Friendly: No.  It is about 15 miles on a gravel road, no place for a heavy cruiser or touring bike.

Fiddlehead Falls
After hiking to Schoolhouse Falls and Lizard Log Falls, my hiking companions (Dan Frew, David and Amber Dedman) and I loaded up and headed for our third hike of the day, Fiddlehead Falls.  This waterfall is not that well known.  Most waterfall chasers in Arkansas get a copy of Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls, and use that as their guide.  This particular waterfall is not in the current edition of that book, so it's somewhat unknown.  

We were driving to it from close to the Austin Trailhead, but I'll give directions from the nearest highway for clarity.  The parking location for Fiddlehead Falls is on Lindsey Mountain Motorway, which sounds like a major thoroughfare.  Sadly, it is not.  It's a one lane dirt road that stretches from Highway 27 to White Oak Mountain Road.  

Sign at 'Y' in White Oak
Mountain Road - bear left
It may seem like you can shortcut the length of dirt roads you drive on by coming in from Highway 27, but that end of Lindsey Mountain Motorway is in horrible condition.  You will save time by going in on White Oak Mountain Road.

To get there, drive north from Hector on Highway 27.  Less than a mile from the Big Piney Ranger station in Hector, you cross over Dare Creek.  Look upstream when you cross and you will see a nice little waterfall.  Immediately after crossing Dare Creek, turn right onto White Oak Mountain Road (aka FR-1301).  This is a gravel road, but is a well traveled and fairly well maintained road.  Go 11.4 miles on White Oak Mountain Road.  Be careful 7.2 miles from Highway 27 and bear left where the road branches at the 'Y' in the road.  See the sign at right - you want to stay on White Oak Mountain Road at this point.  After following it for 11.4 miles, turn left onto Lindsey Mountain Motorway.  Go just 0.8 miles and park on the right.   The creek and Fiddlehead Falls are just below you on the right (north) side of the road.

Fiddlehead Falls, like most Ozarks waterfalls, is easy to get to the top of the waterfall.  Head straight down the hill toward the creek and the waterfall is right there, only about 150 yards from where you parked.  However, just like most Ozarks waterfalls, you can't see much from the top.  The best way to the base of Fiddlehead Falls is on the other (north) side of the creek.  Cross the creek and you can make your way down a steep slope to the base of the waterfall.  We went upstream and looked for a good spot to cross.  Today, however, the creek was too high, so we opted to go downstream and find a break in the bluff.

Fiddlehead Falls
We did finally find a way down through the bluffline on the south side of the creek, but had to go about a hundred yards downstream to find it.  This break was fairly steep and slippery, but we made it down to creek level OK and then back upstream to the base of Fiddlehead Falls.  This is a beautiful waterfall, especially at high water as it was today.  Everything was wet, and water streamed down on us from the bluffline above.  In the photo at right, you can see a virtual curtain of water droplets falling in front of me as I took this photo.

Lower Fiddlehead Falls
Downstream, almost back to where our bluffline break was, there is another nice waterfall.  This is currently unnamed, but I'll refer to it as Lower Fiddlehead Falls.  It was either that or Fiddlefoot Falls, which just seems wrong.

From Lower Fiddlehead Falls, we headed back up the bluff and back up to the road.  Round trip, this is a very short hike of less than a half mile.  It is a little steep getting down to the base of the waterfall, but still a fairly easy hike.  This one is recommended.  
GPS Track - Fiddlehead Falls


  1. The Forest Service improved the west end of Lindsey Motorway in the summer of 2016. It's much better now. Only trick is the ford you have to make over Illinois Bayou just after leaving Highway 27

  2. Hey Rick, so I drove the full loop today. Both are more "viable" now, but the route you recommend down White Oak Mountain Rd is definitely both faster and a safer bet. The other end of 27 involves two adventures in "fording the river!" across the Illinois Bayou like you're in Oregon Trail. I drive a stock '05 Silverado Z71 though, and made it just fine. Not sure what level the water was at compared to any seasonal version of "normal" with the ice melt going on though.
    Second thing I wanted to point out is the parking coordinates, either my GPS is off or there is a typo. I never crossed your coords, but they are almost dead on south of where I parked (which otherwise matched your description) and were only 150yds from the falls - which all the coords you gave were spot on for. Coords I parked at were N35.53555 W092.86031
    Thank you SO much for this blog. I just discovered it after discovering Fiddlehead Falls in the Arkansas Waterfalls, Streams, & Creeks facebook group and searching for "how to get to Fiddlehead" and your info on this and other waterfalls is an AMAZING assist. I'm kindofa rookie with the GPS, but saved my track and am happy to share it with you if you know how to do so. I hit up Fiddlehead and Penhook Areas today. Thanks again!

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