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

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