Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rough Hollow Waterfalls, Arkansas Ozarks

5/27/2015 -  Rough Hollow Waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Park #1:  35.53233, -93.14661, 732 ft.
  Park #2: 35.53127, -93.14713, 658 ft.
  Park #3: 35.53129, -93.14826, 675 ft.
  Park #4: 35.53227, -93.14933, 654 ft.
  Ten Tier Falls: 35.53678, -93.14558, 702 ft.
  Rough Falls:  35.53339, -93.14486 640 ft.
  Rough Falls Access:  35.53257, -93.14438,  601 ft.
  Unnamed Falls #1:  35.53348, -93.14099, 688 ft.
  Trigg Falls: 35.53442, -93.14069, 765 ft.
  Rat Snake Falls  35.53208, -93.14127, 654 ft.
  Leave old trace road for Big Rock Falls: 35.53520, -93.13852, 711 ft.  
  Big Rock Falls: 35.53184, -93.13799, 626 ft.
  Old trace road  35.53292, -9313741,  711 ft.  
  Slot Canyon: 35.53129, -93.14453, 552 ft.
  Park - Rough Hollow Twins - 35.53067, -93.12880, 1057 ft.
  Rough Hollow Lower Twin Falls: 35.53293, -93.12627, 986 ft.
  Rough Hollow Lower Twin Access:  35.53330, -93.12629, 947 ft.  
  Rough Hollow Upper Twin Falls:  35.53288, -93.12624, 993 ft.
  Rough Hollow Twins Upper Falls Access: 35.53306, -93.12611, 980 ft.
  Park - Balcony Falls: 35.54181, -93.11963, 1334 ft.
  Balcony Falls Bluffline Access: 35.53714, -93.12216, 1081 ft.
  Balcony Falls:  35.53750, -93.12190, 1103 ft.
  Unnamed Falls #2 - 35.53857,  -93.12124,  1207 ft.

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine. Some of the terrain is very steep and rugged, particularly in the upper end of Rough Hollow, but most dogs should be able to make it through the bluff breaks.  Smaller dogs or dogs on leash would not be recommended.

Motorcycle Friendly: It depends on where you park.  Parking location #4 is right off Longpool Road and would be Okay.  Parking locations #1, #2, and #3 are no place for a big bike.  Parking for Rough Hollow Twin Falls is just off Old Highway 7, and would be Okay.  Parking for Balcony Falls is off Treat Road, and would be Okay as well as it is only about a quarter mile down Treat Road from Old Highway 7.

Files (.gpx format) - Map with GPS Tracks at bottom of this post
Yeah, I know - lots of GPS waypoints for this trip.  I have done something different for this blog post and created a .gpx file containing all of the waypoint data.  Let me know if this helps or not.  
  Rough Hollow waypoints

Rough Falls
I have made about a bazillion trips out to Longpool, and on every one of those trips passed by Old Highway 7 and Rough Hollow.  I don't know why I never considered this area for hiking territory, but I stumbled across some John Moore photos of a couple of waterfalls in this area and started doing a little research.  As it turns out, I couldn't find anything on the area, even though it is a sizable tract of almost entirely public land very close to Longpool, a very popular recreation area.  

Balcony Falls - with Dan on the 'balcony'
I figured if anyone knew anything about the area, it would be my friend Dan Frew.  It turns out he had driven all around the ridges surrounding the hollow, but never had done any hiking into it.  He, too, was intrigued by the fact that we could find a few coordinates for waterfalls in the area on the world database of waterfalls, but no other information at all.  So we decided to correct that, and set out for Rough Hollow with the intention of exploring the whole hollow. To get there, you don't want to go the way we did.  We went from Highway 7 to Old Highway 7, and took Treat Road and Pearson Point Road all the way around the ridge on the north side of Rough Hollow.  Treat Road is usually in pretty good shape, but but Pearson Point Road is one of the worst forest service roads I have seen in a while.  It is not maintained well at all, and if you don't have a good 4x4 or ATV, I wouldn't try it.  Nor do you need to, as you can get almost all the way there on paved roads.

From the main square in Dover (Dover Supermarket), go north on Highway 7 for 5.5 miles, and turn left onto Highway 164.  Go 3.5 miles on Highway 164, then turn right onto Old Highway 7 (aka FR-1801).  Go 2.7 miles on Old Highway 7 and bear left onto Longpool Road (aka FR-1804).  Go 0.8 miles on Longpool Road, and turn right onto the dirt road.  This is FR-1803, Pearson Point Road.  There is an area just off Longpool Road where you can park.  This is Parking location #4.  

Trigg Falls - with Rick
Depending on the capabilities of your vehicle, you can choose to go down FR-1803 another 0.1 mile to parking location #3, which has an area used as a campsite.  Continuing another 0.1 mile on FR-1803, the road takes a sharp turn to the left.  This is parking location #2, and is the trailhead for access to the lower waterfalls, if those are all you want to see.  Yet another 0.1 mile down FR-1803 is parking location #1, which is where the easiest route to Ten Tier Falls begins.  Balcony Falls and Rough Hollow Twin Falls have separate parking areas much further east in the hollow, and we will detail driving directions later for those hikes.

Ten Tier Falls
Wherever you parked, go down the road to parking location #4.  From there, an old trace road goes north between FR-1803 and the creek directly below.  The trace road quickly disappears, but you will find yourself on a ridge between the bluff going up to the road on your left and the slope down to the creek on your right.  It is easy hiking for a bushwhack, almost completely on the level and without much undergrowth at all.  About a third of a mile from parking location #4, you will be directly above Ten Tier Falls and can drop down to the creek, only about 100 feet to the right (east).  Ten Tier Falls is a beautiful tiered type waterfall.  Yes, I counted, and yes, there are actually ten tiers.

Rough Falls
From Ten Tier Falls we headed straight downstream, hiking along the creek to Rough Falls.  As the crow flies, this is a little over a quarter mile.  However, as the hiker hikes, our track for this was almost a half mile.  If you get on the left (east) side of the creek as you hike down to Rough Falls, you will find a break in the bluffline allowing access to the base of Rough Falls.  The GPS coordinates for this and other bluffline breaks are listed above.  Rough Falls is one of the taller waterfalls in the hollow, and had a really good amount of flow today.  It appears this area did not receive as much rainfall as other parts of Arkansas the last few days, but it certainly had enough to make it look spectacular.  

An alternate route to Rough Falls, if you don't care to visit Ten Tier Falls, is to hike to it directly from FR-1803.  From parking location #2, an old trace road runs right across the middle of the two prongs of Rough Hollow that are on the northwest side of this drainage basin.  This trace road provides easy hiking, and crosses the creeks right above Rough Falls in the drainage we were in, and right above Rat Snake Falls in the next drainage to the east.  You can hike directly on the trace road, cross the first creek, and follow along the top of the bluff to the access point.  

Unnamed Falls #1
From Rough Falls, we headed over to that next drainage.  Hiking up through the break in the bluffline, you will notice an animal trail that goes up the access break and on toward the old trace road.  We hiked up to the trace road and followed it to the next drainage.  Rat Snake Falls is just below where the road crosses the creek, but we were exploring everything this trip, so we headed upstream first.  We came to Unnamed Falls #1, a nice little waterfall about 12 feet high.  

Trigg Falls
Going upstream from the top of Unnamed Falls #1, there is a path along the base of the bluff on the left (west) that provides a route upstream along the creek.  Continuing upstream about another 150 yards, we soon came to Trigg Falls.  This is a multi-level waterfall that cascades steeply down a long fall, and has a rock outcropping at just the right place to get yourself in the picture.  

Rat Snake Falls
From Trigg Falls, we headed downstream, past Unnamed Falls #1 and the old trace road, again keeping to the left (east) side of the creek below the trace road to the access point below Rat Snake Falls.  This has got to be the most unappealing name I have heard yet for a waterfall.  I can only imagine someone saw rat snakes here at some point, and the unnatural paranoia most people have about snakes cemented that imagine in their mind.  Don't worry, though.  Rat Snakes very rarely bite humans, and aren't deadly when they do.  Fortunately, the waterfall itself is much more appealing than the name implies.  

Our next stop today was Big Rock Falls, which was further upstream in the main branch of Rough Hollow.  From the GPS coordinates I had, it appeared Big Rock Falls would be closer to access from Old Highway 7.  Looking a little closer, though, you can see that it isn't much closer; in fact, the GPS coordinates I had were incorrect and it ended up being only about 0.2 miles upstream.  Also, if you park on Old Highway 7 and hike down, it is a 300 foot elevation change.  At any rate, our goal was to see what there was in Rough Hollow, so we followed the main creek in the hollow upstream.

Big Rock Falls - upper portion
Rat Snake Falls is only a short distance from the confluence of it's creek and the main Rough Hollow creek.  At this part of Rough Hollow, it is still moderately easy hiking.  Above Big Rock Falls, it does get more rugged and Rough Hollow starts to earn it's name.  We went upstream about a quarter mile past Big Rock Falls, just to see what was there and to verify the coordinates I had were not for some other waterfall.  They were not; they were just in error.  That happens, especially with some of the older GPS units.  

Big Rock Falls - lower portion
Big Rock Falls itself is actually a two tiered waterfall, falling first over a large, flat span of rock, then turning sideways and falling on both sides of a very large rock.  Another big rock is in the middle of the creek bed just below the waterfalls.  Water in the creek bed was high enough that it spanned the entire width of the canyon for a good distance downstream.  So our options for photography were to wade a good ways upstream or just take photos from the steep bank above the waterfalls.  We both chose the latter.

Rough Falls - with Rick
Upstream from Big Rock Falls, the bushwhack is much more difficult.  There are large rocks and "Arkansas obstacles", making for a harder hike.  We went another quarter mile upstream, then headed back.  We hiked back on the right side (north) going downstream, and angled up the slope until we got to the trace road.  This is the same trace road cutting across above the top of Rough Falls and Rat Snake Falls.  Hiking back was a fairly easy bushwhack, mostly on the level and mostly clear of undergrowth.  I marked GPS coordinates for a location I thought would be best to break off the trace road and hike down to Big Rock Falls.  From the trace road, it is only about a 70 foot elevation change, and this would be an easier route than hiking up along the creek.

Slot Canyon - on creek from Rat Snake Falls
Arriving back above Rat Snake Falls, we decided to go back downstream to the main creek and hike it downstream to the confluence of the tributary that had Rough Falls on it.  At the juncture of these two creeks, each of the creeks is forced through a slot canyon, making some pretty nice cascades.  From there, we went upstream to Rough Falls, climbed back out the access on the east side, and back up to the trace road.  Hiking the trace road back to FR-1803 is easy hiking, so if you only want to see the lower falls, this is the way to go.  Hiking up FR-1803 to the Jeep, we loaded up and headed toward the far eastern end of the hollow.

Big Rock Falls - upper portion
One of the GPS coordinates I got from the world database was for 'Twin Falls', which I always find interesting.   There are a few double waterfalls in Arkansas, and most of these "twins" are spectacular.   To get to the parking location for this, go back to Longpool Road, turn left on Old Highway 7, and go 1.4 miles.  Pull onto the dirt road on the left (north), where a power line runs.  Pull off of the power line access road to the left and park at the gate.  On the left is private property, but straight behind the gate and down an old forest service road on the right is public land.  Trees there had forest service markings for cutting lumber, so I'm fairly certain the old road goes through public land.

Rough Hollow Twins - Upper Falls
Hiking down the old road, we noticed that you could see the power line right-of-way the entire way, until breaking off the road to hike down to the waterfalls. It is only a quarter mile down the old road, so my preference would be to hike, but you could drive down the power line access to the same point and cut your hiking a little.  From the old road, it is less than 100 yards down to the two waterfalls.  Access to them is a little tricky, and I have included GPS coordinates for access points above.  

Rough Hollow Twins - Lower Falls
The "twin" waterfalls really are not twins or double falls as you would expect.  They are really just two waterfalls, one above the other, not even tiered closely together.  Even with the recent rain, these were not all that great.  Although any waterfall is nice, I don't think I would recommend these two.  I would put them with the very, very, few on my "not really worth the hike" list.  There is nothing that special about them, and there are many others in the area that are easier to get to and much prettier.  Leaving these waterfalls, we backtracked to the Jeep and set off for our last waterfall of the day, Balcony Falls.

From where we parked for the Rough Hollow Twin Falls, we continued east on Old Highway 7 for another mile, then turned left onto Treat Road.  Go another 0.2 miles on Treat Road around the top of Rough Hollow, and park in the road on the left.  This forest service road had previously been used for logging, but now has a large berm across it.  After parking, we hiked over the berm and up the road about 100 yards, until reaching a small forest service road on the left, which now has a gate to keep vehicular traffic out of the hollow.  It seems a little redundant with the berm, but that's your taxpayer dollars at work.

Balcony Falls
We hiked down the old road behind the gate until we were directly above the coordinates for Balcony Falls, and hiked down to the waterfall.  I don't have a GPS track for the hike down to the waterfall, because I had somehow forgot to start recording.  My apologies.  Upon reaching the bluffline below Balcony Falls, it was easy to find a break for access down to the base of the waterfall.  Deer have beat a pretty good path down to this waterfall, so there must be some salt or something they go down there for.  There was a herd of deer present when we went down the path.

Balcony Falls - taken from the 'balcony'
Balcony Falls no doubt gets it's name from the very distinct balcony formed by a secondary ledge jutting out under the ledge the waterfall pours over.  I was a little surprised at how high and how much flow this waterfall has.  It is almost all the way up in the head of Rough Hollow, so you would expect the creek to not have all that much flow at this point.  With the erratic hydrology in the Ozarks, you never know what to expect.  

Unnamed Falls #2
We hiked back along the creek, just to see what else might be there.  Among many other small waterfalls and cascades, we found Unnamed Falls #2 less than 200 yards upstream from Balcony Falls.  There are about a bazillion little waterfalls like this in the remote Ozark hollows, but I always get a sense of awe when I stumble across one.  The hike back to the parking location from Balcony Falls was a half mile, with over 200 feet elevation change.  Not too much, but after a full day of hiking, I was getting a little worn out.  

All in all, it was another great day in the Arkansas wilderness.  We got some exercise, got to see some nice waterfalls, and hopefully by documenting this we can pave the way for more folks to get out and enjoy this area.  I would highly recommend the hikes we took today, all except for the Rough Hollow Twins.  In my mind, those waterfalls are just not special enough on their own to justify the hike and I don't know of any other features in that vicinity.  
GPS Tracks - Rough Hollow
Blue - Park #1 to Ten Tier Falls
Black - Ten Tier Falls To Rough Falls
Green - Rough Falls to Rat Snake Falls to Trigg Falls
Light Blue - Rat Snake Falls to Big Rock Falls
Yellow - Slot Canyon to Rough Falls to Park #2
Orange - Balcony Falls to Parking

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gum Creek Falls, Wildman Twin Falls, and Big Shoal Cascades, Magazine Mountain area, Arkansas

5/15/2015 -  Gum Creek Falls, Wildman Twin Falls, and Big Shoal Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Park - Gum Creek Falls:  35.25356,  -93.66573,  767 ft.
  Gum Creek Falls:  35.25467,  -93.66498,  769 ft.
  Park - Wildman Twin Falls:  35.22838,  -93.54941,  1277 ft.
  Wildman Twin Falls:  35.22446  -93.55083,  1132 ft.
  Big Shoals Falls:  35.19492,  -93.54415,  887 ft.

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine. A lot of the terrain is very steep and rugged, but most dogs should be able to make it through the bluff break.  Smaller dogs or dogs on leash would not be recommended.

Motorcycle Friendly:  For Gum Creek Falls, it should be just fine as you park only a quarter mile down a dirt road off Highway 309.  For Wildman Twin Falls and Big Shoal Falls, there is just too much dirt road to deal with.  Although do-able, you would not enjoy taking a large bike to these two.

After my hiking companions today, Dan Frew and Jim Fitsimones, and I got an early start and visited the waterfalls on the lower and upper parts of Clear Creek, we still had a lot of our hiking day left.  Dan had previously scoped out a number of prospective areas to visit, so we set out to see what we could find.  Some of the locations that looked promising did not pan out, but we did hike into three areas with some pretty nice waterfalls.  Two of these, Big Shoal Cascades and Wildman Twin Falls, are in Tim Ernst's excellent guidebook, Arkansas Waterfalls.  I'll give details on each of the three separately.

Gum Creek Falls:

Gum Creek Falls - from the base of the waterfall
To get there, from Paris (intersection of Highways 109 and 309), go 4.9 miles and turn left on Red Bench Road.  If coming from Havana on Highway 309, it is 22 miles to Red Bench Road.  Go down Red Bench Road for 0.2 miles and park on the left (north) side of the road.  There is an old trace road going north from the parking location toward Gum Creek.  Hike down this old road and Gum Creek Falls is only a couple of hundred yards from the road.
Gum Creek Falls - from upper vantage point

There is a posting for private property right before the waterfall, so if correctly placed Gum Creek Falls is technically on private property (barely).  That is not a problem, as you can view Gum Creek Falls just fine anyway.  Downstream just a few yards is an outcropping that provides an excellent vantage point for photography.  If you are like me, I really want that shot from the base of the waterfalls.  That is not an easy accomplishment for this one, at least not without some rock climbing equipment.  

Access to base of Gum Creek Falls
(NOT recommended)
I searched downstream quite a way and did not find a break in the bluffline.  Jim did find a ledge just a few feet from that photo vantage point, but it required climbing down on a small ledge, then holding onto a small tree while climbing down the rest of the way.  That worked, but was pretty iffy.  If you aren't tall enough to reach up and grab the small tree, you're kind of stuck.  After taking some photos above and below the bluff, I think the ones from the vantage point are at least as good.  My advice would be to take a photo from the upper vantage point, stay on the safe side, and forego the climb down to the base of the waterfall.

Wildman Twin Falls:

Wildman Twin Falls
To get there from Paris (intersection of Highways 109 and 309), go south on Highway 309 6.5 miles and turn left on Rich Mountain Road.  If coming from Havana, go north on Highway 309 for 20.5 miles to Rich Mountain Road.  Go 3.2 miles, bearing left at 0.8 miles to stay on Rich Mountain Road.  Bear left to go onto Rich Mountain Byway and then go another 3.7 miles.  Turn right off Rich Mountain Byway on a local gas well road and go another 0.6 miles to a gas well pad and park. 

Path to the bottom of Wildman Twin Falls - with Dan
Just before the road gets to the parking location, there is a road taking off to the left (south).  Follow this old trace road for about 200 yards.   You will cross a creek that feeds one of the Wildman Twin Falls.  Shortly after crossing that creek, there is a volunteer trail to the right.  The trail will follow the east creek feeding the Wildman Twins, high enough on the bluff that it is fairly easy hiking, until you actually get to the waterfalls, that is.  

Last stretch of path along ledge at bottom
Boot added for reference
From the bluff adjacent to the top of Wildman Twin Falls down to the base of the waterfalls is a very steep drop, getting more steep as you approach the creek level.  The last few yards of trail require going down a very narrow, fairly steep ledge that is somewhat slippery and loose.  It's easy to slip or slide off this narrow path, so be very careful at this point.  If you get hurt here, there is no easy way out and it's always embarrassing to have to get help from the SAR teams.  

Wildman Twin Falls is awesome, easily very high on my list of spectacular Arkansas waterfalls.  They are 43 feet tall, and the water rumbles down the drop, creating a loud, echoing roar in the enclosed space of the grotto.  Like Twin Falls of Richland and Doppelganger Falls, this has two creeks that both happen to have waterfalls at their juncture.  From where you get down to creek level, the canyon narrows down from the grotto where the two waterfalls fall.  The water in the creek also spans the base of the canyon here, so even though it isn't very deep, wear waterproof boots or plan on getting wet.   

Big Shoal Cascade

Big Shoal Cascade
Big Shoal Cascades is not very tall, at only about six feet for the main drop.  Getting there is really easy.  From Paris, go south on Highway 309 for 14.3 miles and turn left on Bear Hollow Road.  If coming from Havana, go 12.6 miles to Bear Hollow Road.  Go northwest on Bear Hollow Road for 3.1 miles, then turn right on Spring Lake Road.  Go a quarter of a mile and bear right before the bridge crossing Big Shoal Creek.  This is the old Bear Hollow Road, and goes right up to the waterfall.  

Actually, the old road goes right over it.  Before the bridge was built just downstream, the road forded across the top of Big Shoal Cascades.  I suppose that's why the alternate name for this is "the waterfall with my car parked on top of it".  Of course, this is not advisable in high water levels.  There is also another smaller cascade a little downstream of the main cascade.  This second cascade can be seen from the bridge on Spring Lake Road.

All in all, this was a very long and very fulfilling hiking day.  Dan, Jim, and I got to visit a couple of waterfalls that were new to us even though previously documented.  Even better, we visited a bunch that were not previously documented by anyone.  I just enjoy being out in the beautiful Arkansas wilderness that God has graced us with.  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Clear Creek waterfalls and Mt. Hardy Falls, Magazine Mountain, Arkansas

5/15/2015 -  Clear Creek waterfalls and Hardy Falls, Magazine Mountain, Arkansas

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Park - Clear Creek lower waterfalls:  35.14883,  -93.61330,  1351 ft.
  Window Falls:  35.14837,  -93.60847,  1101 ft.
  Falls #2:  35.14826,  -93.60846,   1105 ft.
  Falls#3:  35.14817,  -93.60833,  1097 ft.
  Falls #4:  35.14810,  -93.60821,  1094 ft.
  Falls #5:  35.14803,  -93.60799,  1090 ft.
  Park - Hardy Falls:  35.15123,  -93.56308,  1065 ft.
  Hardy Falls:  35.15178,  -93.56320, 1079 ft. 
  Park - Clear Creek Falls:  35.15719,  -93.61057,  1758 ft.
  Clear Creek Falls:  35.15704,  -93.61005,  1621 ft.

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine. A lot of the terrain is very steep and rugged, but most dogs should be able to make it through the bluff break.  Smaller dogs or dogs on leash would not be recommended.

Motorcycle Friendly: Not for any of the Clear Creek waterfalls,  but Hardy Falls is right next to Highway 309, a popular motorcycle ride with lots of scenery.  Clear Creek Falls and all of its smaller brethren downstream require going down logging roads a fair distance.

Clear Creek Falls
I had seen a photo of Clear Creek Falls before, but could find no directions or other information about this waterfall on the west side of Mt. Magazine.  So when my friend, Dan Frew, asked if I wanted to tag along for a hike to see this one, and several other promising areas that might contain waterfalls, I jumped at the opportunity.   He wanted an early start, which I'm all for.  But a 5:00 a.m. early start?  I actually have to set an alarm for that one.  I can't hike without a (very) large breakfast, which means I have to get up by 4:00 a.m. to have time to make it.  For some reason Bethany doesn't see the need to get up that early and cook.  We met up with Jim Fitsimones, our other hiking companion for the day, at Havana and headed toward Mount Magazine.

Falls #2
A quick word on the names of creeks in this area.  As previously noted, early settlers could not easily communicate.  They named creeks for the characteristics, features and resources nearby.  They ended up giving creeks all over the state the same names.  So when we talk in this blog post about Clear Creek, Big Piney Creek, Little Piney Creek, etc.,  we are talking about the creeks on Mount Magazine, not the better known creeks in other parts of the Ozarks.  These are on the steep west side of Mount Magazine.  

Getting there is a little difficult to explain, but I'll do my best.  We started from Havana, so I will start from there.  If coming from Paris, you can go through Mt. Magazine State Park on Highway 309 to the first turn west onto Cedar Piney Road, OR go down Highway 109, then left on Highway 10 to Havana, and follow our path from there.

Window Falls
From Havana, go 2.2 miles north on Highway 309 and turn left on Cedar Piney Road (aka CR-532).  Go 1.1 miles and turn right at the tee onto Piney Road.  Go 2.4 miles on Piney Road (aka CR-33), then turn right onto FR-1678.  Go down FR-1678 for about two miles; after crossing Big Piney Creek, there will be an intersection where both roads are labeled FR-1678 on the maps.  Confusing, right?  At any rate, turn left (north) at this intersection and take the road all the way to the coordinates listed above for lower Clear Creek waterfalls parking.  This will be approximately another two miles, and will put you close to the lower Clear Creek waterfalls.  This road, once it starts rising up the mountain, has a number of "water bars" and can be challenging.  I would not recommend taking a normal passenger car, and a good 4x4 is recommended.  More driving direction will be given below to the larger waterfall higher in the Clear Creek drainage.

The parking location is right in the saddle of a feature on the side of Mount
View from FR-1678, west side of Mount Magazine
Magazine known as Snake Knob.  From the parking location, head east down into the Clear Creek canyon.  A GPS is highly advisable for this hike, as it is easy to end up above or below the location on the creek you are heading for.  A little above is not that bad, as you can find the five lower waterfalls a little downstream.  A little below your mark would not work well at all, as the creek canyon gets very steep, very narrow, and seemed to have no breaks to go below the creek bluff for quite a distance.

Window Falls
The straight line distance to the first waterfall is a little over a quarter of a mile.  As anyone that has hiked the Ozarks well knows, you don't get to hike a straight line.  The highest of the waterfalls in the lower section of Clear Creek is almost directly below the parking location, but we angled down and back across the slope to get there as it is fairly steep.  There is an elevation change of about 250 feet between the parking location and the first waterfall.  

Rock Cave/Cabin overlooking Window Falls
Unless I find that this waterfall has been previously named, I have decided to call it Window Falls.  If you look at the photos, you will see why.  On the other side of the creek (east), there is a shelter type cave that someone built up with a wall across the front, leaving openings for a door and window.  This is all 'dry stacked' rock; that is, no mortar was used at all, just rocks the right size and shape stacked up to form the wall.  I think this is very old, but stories of its existence decades ago, I have no idea how old it is or who built it.  They even carved and placed rock to form a set of stairs from the cave/hut to the base of Window Falls.  If you go inside, this waterfall is the view you get through the dwelling's window.  Ergo, I think Window Falls is appropriate.  

Window Falls - through the Window
Window Falls is a beautiful waterfall, flowing over a large rock outcropping into an emerald pool below.  Whoever built the cave/hut structure here for a dwelling, hunting camp, or whatever, they could not have chosen a more picturesque location.  While this maybe would be a fantastic location to wake up every morning, it is a little too isolated for even the hardier pioneers.  It is in the middle of a very steep canyon, nestled between steep, narrow canyon walls with a waterfall at each end.  Nice place to visit, but really difficult place to actually live.  

Falls #3
Going further downstream, the remaining four waterfalls in this group can be found one right after the other.  The ruggedness of the terrain makes it difficult to get below each of the waterfalls, but we found a way down below each of them on the side we hiked in on, the west side of the creek.  The second waterfall, Falls #2, actually looks very similar to Window Falls in size and shape, it just has an extra 'kicker' waterfall at the foot. 
Falls #4

These five waterfalls are right about midway down the west flank of Mount Magazine.  The geology and topology in this area is somewhat different than that of the Ozarks I am more familiar with.  Throughout most of the Arkansas Ozarks, there are large layers of sandstone and limestone that have created just the formations needed for waterfalls.  On Mount Magazine, however, there aren't hard sandstone outcroppings for the creeks to flow over.  Instead, it is more a giant rock jumble with waterfalls created wherever creeks happen to flow over boulders that are large enough.  So waterfalls here are not nearly as predictable from the lay of the land as they are east of here in the Ozarks.  At this location, there just happen to be more large rock than anything else.

Jim - below Falls #5 setting up the shot
Falls #3 is a long, steep cascade zig-zagging at an angle back across the narrow creek canyon.  Falls #4 is a similar cascade, cutting back across the canyon the other direction.  The last waterfall in the chain, Falls #5, is a three tiered waterfall flowing into a deep emerald pool.  This last one was a little more challenging to photograph.  The only place you can really get a good shot of the waterfall is on the far side of the creek, which is a sheer cliff rising above the creek.  Fortunately, there was a fallen cedar tree lodged across the creek canyon at just the right height to use as a handrail to cross the creek.  The creek itself is only a few inches deep there, and we could set up tripods in the creek at the foot of the cliff to get a clear shot of the waterfall.

Falls #5
After leaving Falls #5, we hiked back up the hill to the crest of Snake Knob, and back to the parking location.  This is not a long hike at all, but 250 feet of elevation climb in a real short distance will make you glad to reach the top.  From here, we caught our breath, loaded up and headed up to the higher waterfall in this drainage, Clear Creek Falls.  Although Clear Creek Falls is less than a mile as the crow flies above where we were parked on Snake Knob, it is also a 600 foot elevation change, and a very rugged and steep climb.  If you have ever been at the Mt. Magazine Lodge and looked over this west edge of the mountain, you know what I mean.  So we were taking the more sane route, and driving around to it.

Hardy Falls
First, you have to drive all the way back off the mountain, backtracking all the way back to Highway 309.  Turn left off Highway 309 from Cedar Piney Road and go 2.1 miles to Hardy Falls.  Hey, it may be right off the highway and not much of a hike at all, but it is "right on the way", so we felt the need to stop and check it out.  There is room to park on either side of the road, just below where the creek feeding Hardy Falls flows through the culverts under the highway.  Park here and it is an easy step down to the base of Hardy Falls.  Of course, you actually have to walk back into the stone culverts to get a good view of the waterfall and take the classic photo
Waterfall and cascade downstream of Hardy Falls
of it through the end of the culvert.  

Walking back under the highway through the culvert, the downstream waterfall is just below you and is easily accessible by climbing down the bank.  I think this waterfall is actually prettier than it's upstream little brother, but the one nearer the culverts is the one that actually has a name.  It is named for James Hardy, the guy that designed Highway 309 back in the 1930's, and built these classic culverts near the waterfall.

Clear Creek Falls
Getting back on the road at Hardy Falls, we continued up (north-west) on Highway 309 another 1.5 miles then turned left onto a dirt logging road.  This is one of the major bench roads across the west face of Mount Magazine, and is pretty much on the level, but still a little sloppy and still has a number of water bars providing major road humps.  Again, I would not recommend passenger cars attempt it, and a 4x4 would be recommended even if your vehicle has good ground clearance.  It looks like gravel has been hauled in to make it a little easier on logging trucks, but it was somewhat washed out again and still a little rough.  Take this logging road along the bench for about two miles until it crosses Clear Creek and park.  Clear Creek Falls is directly below the road.

Clear Creek Falls is twice as tall as any of the smaller waterfalls in the drainage
far downstream of it.  This is the only one on the steep west side of Mount Magazine that I have ever even seen mentioned, and only one reference at that.  I'm sure the other drainage systems on this flank of the mountain have more waterfalls and other water features hidden in them, but that's for another day.  I might come back and poke around in the steep canyons for Little Piney Creek and Big Piney Creek (the ones on Mt. Magazine, not the ones that are river sized) some other day, but we had a full day of other prospective sites already picked out. 

The waterfalls along this canyon are highly recommended, but keep in mind they are difficult bushwhacks in rugged terrain.  If you are not up to a difficult hike or don't have a GPS, I would not recommend you hike this canyon. The roads are also challenging for 'normal' cars, so if you don't have a high clearance vehicle tack on an extra two miles of road hiking for each of the higher and lower waterfall locations.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Doppelganger Falls (aka Butt's Hollow Twin Falls) and Polyfoss Area, Arkansas Ozarks

5/12/2015 - Doppelganger Falls - Polyfoss (Many Waterfalls) Area

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking location #1:  35.64384,  -93.65612,  1724 ft.
  Parking location #2 (and road branch):  35.64585,  -93.65695,  1559 ft.
  Doppelganger Falls:  35.64950,  -93.66066,  1234 ft.
  Facade Falls:  35.64790,  -93.66040,  1267 ft.
  Sarah's Cascade:  35.64786,  -93.66037,  1433 ft.
  Falls #2:  35.64974,  -93.66051,  1222 ft.
  Falls #3:  35.65023,  -93.65990,  1220 ft.
  Falls #5:  35.64833,  -93.66136,  1382 ft.
  Falls #6:  35.64809,  -93.66160,  1417 ft.
  Falls #7:  35.64841,  -93.66203,  1387 ft.
  Old road branch:  35.64509,  -93.65820,  1651 ft.
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: No, not really.  The dirt roads are in relatively good shape, but are still dirt roads with potholes, mudholes, etc.  While you could take a heavy bike on this road, you wouldn't like it.

Doppelganger Falls (19 ft) - with Bethany
Today Bethany, Boomer and I set out to visit Doppelganger Falls and explore a little to see some of the other waterfalls in this drainage.  We got a little sidetracked when we decided to check out an unnamed waterfall that Bethany had found in a previous visit to Sarah Hollow.  That quick side trip turned into a little exploratory mission itself, and it was after noon by the time we left Lower Sarah Hollow.  You can read the details of those new waterfall finds in this blog post.  Fortunately, Doppelganger Falls was not far from Sarah Hollow and Engagement Hollow, so we backtracked down FR-4401 and were back on our way to Doppelganger Falls in no time.  This waterfall is in Butt's Hollow, a fairly short basin that drains into the Mulberry River.  I have seen one photo that refers to Doppelganger Falls as Butt's Hollow Twin Falls, so you may also see it by that name.

Sarah's Cascade
To get there, I will give directions from Clarksville; go north on Highway 103 from Clarksville and turn left (west) on CR-4160 (aka CR-30).  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".  This is just after you finish all the switchbacks going up the mountain on Highway 103.  Go 2.8 miles on CR-4160, then turn right (north) on CR-4141/FR-1525 (aka CR-279).  Go 1.3 miles down CR-4141, and turn left onto FR-1525 where it splits off from CR-4141.  There is another road on the left just before FR-1525 branches off - be sure you take the second left to stay on FR-1525.  Go an additional 1.0 miles to parking location #1.  An old Jeep road takes off to the right at this point, and there is a place to pull off and park on the left opposite of the Jeep road.

This is where we parked today.  Not knowing what the condition of the old jeep
Falls #3
road would be after the torrential rainfall of two days ago, we decided to play it safe and park there.  
This is the parking location designated in Tim Ernst's excellent and highly recommended Waterfalls of Arkansas book.  As it turned out, this old road was in very good condition, not what I would call a "Jeep road" at all.  Our Explorer would have had no problem at all getting down this road and on another old road branching off it to the right.  Parking location #2 above is an alternate parking location that will get you much closer to the waterfalls.  As we'll discuss below, this is also what I would consider a better route to visit the waterfalls in this area.  It is a little longer than the 'traditional' route, but not much, only a couple of hundred yards.  It will cut off a good deal of the bushwhack that going the other route entails.  I'll take a little more easy hiking to cut down the bushwhacking any day.

Facade Falls (64 ft)
At any rate, this was our first trip to the area, and we did not know that at the time.  All we had for guidance was Tim's guidebook, and typically I find his route to be the best.  We hiked down the Jeep road from where we parked for 0.2 miles, and where the road branched we went left.  Whenever I see a branch, I always wonder where the other branch goes.  We found out on the way back.  But on the way in, we branched left and shortly thereafter came to the first drainage.  We turned right off the trail at this point, and started out bushwhack downstream on the left (west) side.

After bushwhacking downstream for about a quarter mile, we came across (surprise!) an old trace road.  I suspected this led to the road we had passed at the branch in the old Jeep road, and we made a mental note to explore further on the way back out.  Continuing across this road and downstream, we came to our first waterfall in Butt's Hollow.  I had seen a few photos of waterfalls in Butt's Hollow that Brian Emfinger had posted on Panaramio, but none for this one.  If you go down the right side of the creek instead of the left, you are likely to miss out on this one, Sarah's Cascade, as it turns and faces the left (west) side of the creek.  

Sarah's Cascade
Sarah's Cascade is a beautiful, stair-step type waterfall just a few feet from the top of Facade Falls.  Facade Falls, directly below it, is a 64 foot tall waterfall arching out over the canyon below.  There are many, many waterfalls in this small area of Butt's Hollow, but the only ones that I know of with names are Facade Falls, Sarah's Cascade and Doppelganger Falls.  Generally, while out in the woods I'll just number the waterfalls for documentation until I research to see if anyone has called them by a particular name, then go back and edit names in if they exist.  I was able to find a way down to the base of Facade Falls on the left (west) side, albeit a very steep and very slippery one.  Be careful, or you will end up sliding 40 or 50 feet down the steep slope.  Even after getting to the base of Facade Falls, large trees and the profile of the canyon kept me from getting a good perspective of this waterfall.

Facade Falls (64 ft)
Facade Falls is in the creek feeding the left twin of the two Doppelganger Falls, and you can get down to the point right between the tops of Doppelganger Falls by following the top of the creek bluffline downstream.  As bushwhacks go, this one is not too bad.  It is a little steep, but undergrowth in the area is minimal and it is fairly open hiking under the tree canopy above.  Once you get down to the tops of these two waterfalls, the easiest route I found to the base is to cross the creek of the 'right twin' - that is, the right (west) of the twin waterfalls as you face them.  Cross the west creek just above the top of the waterfall, then you can climb the bluff easily, go downstream just a few yards, and access the base of Doppelganger Falls.  As you stand at the top of the waterfalls, you can see this route.  

Doppelganger Falls (19 ft)
Doppelganger Falls is one of several 'twin' falls in the Arkansas Ozarks, so I'm actually relieved that it has a unique name to separate it from the others.  One of those other 'Twin Falls' is a triple falls, and not even a 'twin at all, although it was at one time.  Doppelganger Falls, just like Twin Falls in the Richland Wilderness area, is formed by two separate creeks that just happen to have waterfalls where they spill into the same pool.  The effect is spectacular, of course.  If one waterfall is spellbinding, consider how special it is to have two, each with their own personality, at the same place.  

Falls #2
We went down the combined creek a short distance from Doppelganger Falls.  I would have liked to explore this whole region a little better, but it was getting late in the afternoon.  Also, Bethany was still nursing a sore knee from where she banged it up on a hike a couple of weeks ago.  The ruggedness of this area was not helping that at all, so we looked at a couple more waterfalls and started heading back upstream.  We found Falls #2 in a side canyon just downstream of Doppelganger Falls, near the access down off the bluff.  This tributary creek was running well today, but I suspect it will dry up almost completely in dry weather.

Falls #3
Going on downstream from Doppelganger Falls, we found Falls #3 about 100 yards downstream.  This is a series of short waterfalls that looked fantastic with the combined flow from the two Doppelganger waterfalls.  The creek drops off fairly steeply, so I suspect there is much more to see.  But we needed to turn around at some point, so this was it.  Going back upstream, we chose to cross back over the creek feeding the 'right twin', to get back to the top of Doppelganger Falls again.  We started our ascent, this time going back up the west creek, where we had come down along the east creek.  

Falls #5
From the map in Tim Ernst's guidebook, I knew there were a couple of waterfalls in the west creek, and we wanted to make sure we checked them out.  Next time I visit this area, I will go up the other side of the west creek, the right side as you go upstream.  Going up the left (east) side of this creek didn't work so well because there are a couple of steeply banked drainages coming in from that side.  We soon came to the first one, and chose to stay to the left, where we knew the slope was passable, since we had come down between the two creeks feeding Doppelganger Falls.  This first tributary contained Falls #5, a very tall, very steep cascade running almost the full height of the canyon.  

Falls #6
Hiking up (and up, and up...) and around this side tributary, we eventually climbed back up to that old road we had crossed.  Since this road appeared to cut across the top of all the creeks in this drainage, we turned right and hiked back to explore a little.  Virtually every creek running across this road ran down into a steep and rugged drainage, just what you want for waterfalls.  The first couple of creeks appeared to be too small to be the main creek feeding the 'right twin', but one did have Falls #6 in the middle of a very steep, very slippery slope.  I almost slid on my butt down into this canyon, but managed to grab a tree and pull myself out.

Falls #7
Going down the road just a little further, past a large tree trunk across the road, we came to the main creek in the 'right twin's' drainage.  Just below the road was a spectacular waterfall, Falls #7.  This waterfall spills over a ledge into a grotto almost like a giant well, hitting another ledge halfway down, then falling to the floor of the grotto.  One of the largest umbrella magnolia trees I have ever seen is growing in front of the waterfall, making it difficult to get a good angle for taking photos of it.  

The waterfall is so high and the grotto is so narrow, you can't quite capture the whole span of the waterfall.  Looking for a way to the base of the waterfall, or at least that intermediate ledge, I climbed down on the right to where I thought I could access the ledge.  Unfortunately, it was very slippery clay and shale, and I almost slipped into the canyon.  Another downed tree saved me again - thanks, Lord, for the help today.  I managed to drag myself under this tree and onto the ledge halfway down that side of the grotto.  Unfortunately again, there was water streaming down from the overhang above and I had only about a two foot high space to hunker down and try to capture a photo or two. 

Falls #7
Through the veil of water streaming in front of ledge
This was a better perspective than on top of the bluff, but water was streaming down in front of me from the ledge above.  I did the best I could, then went through a similar ordeal coming back up.  If you think it is slippery going down, try climbing back up on that slip-n-slide.  I have a healthy fear of heights, and it was kicking in big time right about now.  When I saw how slippery it was going down, I hollered at Bethany to "don't even think about coming down here".  Now, I was wishing someone had hollered at me before if made this stupid move.  I managed to dig into the clay where roots were and hang on to the roots, and slowly made my way back up in that manner, digging into root after root. 

Cascade above Doppelganger Falls
So, hikers - my one word of caution here is to go ahead and try this at home, but not here where you can fall 40 or 50 feet to your death.  Especially if hiking alone; in this area, it may be years before someone finds your body.  At any rate, I was dirty, muddy, and tired, but alive.  I'll take that one out of four any day.  I cleaned up as well as I could in the creek above and we headed back up the old road the way we had come.  My tripod still has clay in crevices I can't seem to get clean.

Going back (eastward) along the old road was easy hiking.  This was, indeed, an old road, at least at one time.  On my Topo maps this is FR-94404, although I'm sure it has not been a Forest Service maintained road for many, many, years.  We kept on the old road past the point we had crossed it on the way down.  It was actually quite open and would have been usable for vehicles except for a couple of places where trees have started growing in the middle of it.  

About a quarter mile from where it goes above Facade Falls and Falls #1, this old road tees into another road, this one in better shape and drivable for most vehicles.  This intersection of old roads is what I have marked as Parking
Dirtball - this is after cleanup 
in the creek
Photo by Bethany Henry
Location #2 in the GPS coordinates above.  We turned right onto this road and soon came to the juncture with the Jeep road where we had taken the left fork instead of turning onto this road on the way down.  We turned left onto the Jeep road and in 0.2 miles were back where we had parked.

We were tired and dirty (I wasn't the only one that had slipped in mud and leaves today), but happy with another day in the beautiful Arkansas outdoors.  This is truly a great area to hike and explore in.  There is not a lot of undergrowth with hardly any briers to speak of.  It is fairly steep in some areas and an overall elevation difference of about 500 feet from where we parked to the bottom of Doppelganger Falls.  I would call it a moderately difficult bushwhack overall.  Another conundrum with this area is that it will look best with a good deal of recent rain, but there are many places where it is very slippery and slick, and those places will be all the more slippery with recent rains.  I'll highly recommend the area, but just be careful out there.  
GPS tracks
Blue - track for hike to Doppelganger Falls
Red - track for return hike