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

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