Saturday, June 20, 2015

Accord Hollow Falls and 4290 Falls, Arkansas Ozarks

6/19/2015 - Accord Hollow and 4290 Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  4290 Falls:  35.645468  -93.584069,  1402 ft.
  Accord Hollow Parking location: 35.73016  -93.57363,  1835 ft.
  Turn right off OHT:  35.73014,  -93.57414,  1825 ft.
  Access to Unnamed Falls #1 and #2:  35.73121  -93.57593, 1732 ft.
  Access to South Accord Hollow Falls:  35.73193  -93.57618,  1742 ft.
  South Accord Hollow Falls:  35.73227  -93.57730,  1650 ft.
  Access to Accord Hollow Falls:  35.73409  -93.57696,  1637 ft.
  Accord Hollow Falls:  35.73475  -93.57678,  1648 ft.
  
Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine.  You start out on the Ozark Highlands Trail, but just for a few yards.  This waterfall is infrequently visited, so even if your dog is incompatible with other folks, you are not likely to see anyone else in this area.

Motorcycle Friendly: No.  The dirt roads are in relatively good shape, but are still dirt roads with a lot of potholes and rough patches.  Today there were long stretches where the recent rains had caused rutting where there was too much clay and not enough rock.  While you could take a heavy bike on this road, you wouldn't like it, and neither would your bike.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Maps of the GPS track are at the bottom of this post.
  GPS Track - Accord Hollow Falls

Accord Hollow Falls (66 ft)

It was a Friday.  A lazy Friday, at that.  I don't know if it was the weather, or what, but we slept in.  Really late, like 8:00 am.  Maybe even a few minutes after that.  So sue me; we're retired, we can sleep in if we want.  At any rate, we decided to continue in our slothful ways and let someone else serve us breakfast, so off to Cracker Barrel we went.  While reveling in our retired lifestyle, we started discussing the recent rains of the previous two nights.  We got about an inch of rain Wednesday night and 2.25 inches last night.  Naturally, we thought of chasing some waterfalls.  Probably tomorrow, since today was already shot.  But a little further research on the weather showed a high of only 82 F for today, and 95 F tomorrow.  Doing some critical thinking and decision making, we decided we had better go today, even if it was after 10:00 am and we were still drinking coffee and gabbing.

4290 Falls

I had been thinking about visiting Accord Hollow and Estep Creek ever since I went to Eldridge Hollow (next door to it), and it seemed as if that was perfect for today's adventure.  We had just picked up an FJ Cruiser to use for a hiking vehicle last week on a trip to Texas, so this would be a good inaugural trip for the FJ as well.  So back home we went to collect our hiking stuff and Boomer, our German Shepherd.  Even getting a late start, we figured we could hike Accord Hollow, then cross the road and hike to Estep Creek Falls.  Maybe even stop by Cove Creek on the way back and hike up it to the waterfalls Dan Frew had told me about.  Big plans.  As usual, things didn't go exactly as planned.  But as usual, we had a great time anyway.


On the way to Oark, I noticed the sign for CR-4290, and thought "Hey!  Waterfall!  We should check that out!".  So we turned right onto CR-4290.  This junction is 17.2 miles north on Highway 103 from the junction of Highways 64 and 103 in Clarksville.  Almost immediately after turning down CR-4290, you come to a ford across Washita Creek.  If you don't have a good 4WD vehicle, you just need to get out, see how deep it is, and make a judgement call as to whether you can ford it or not.  The ford does seem to have a good rock bottom all the way across.

Creek to ford on CR-4290
Today, as soon as we turned down CR-4290, a truck was backing out of the road.  I was pleasantly surprised to find my sometimes hiking partner Jim Fitsimones behind the wheel - what a small world of waterfall chasers.  Jim had looked at the ford and had doubts, so was backing out to Highway 103.  But now that another vehicle was there, he was more than willing to give it a try.  After all, only one of us can get stuck at a time and the other can work to get it free.  The water was only about a foot and a half deep, so neither of us had any problems there.  After less than a mile on CR-4290, you come to a bend in the road with 4290 Falls spilling right off the bluff onto the road below.

4290 Falls
We spent a little time chatting with Jim and taking photos.  Boomer did his best to 'accidentally' knock Jim's tripod and camera over, but Jim had read a few of these blogs and was on to him and his ways with cameras.  Jim also mentioned a potential trip to Cove Creek in the morning, which served to remind me that we actually had an agenda for today that was being completely ignored.  So, we wrapped up our visit to 4290 Falls and got back on track to Accord Hollow.

Getting to Accord Hollow is easy.  That is, unless you are one of those people that don't follow directions well and prefer to just enter the coordinates for the parking location and let your GPS do the grunt work for you.  DON'T DO THAT.  Your GPS will probably tell you to take CR-100/CR-1005 just before you enter Oark, because that is, in fact, a little less distance than alternate routes.  What your GPS does not know is that CR-100 is basically two ruts through the wilderness, with areas where slick clay tracks try to lead you up steep slopes.  If you have a good 4WD and plenty of time, you could go this way.  But let me reiterate; DON'T DO THAT.

Turn here - NOT on CR-100
A much better route is actually just a tad longer, but much faster and less stomach churning. Getting there is pretty easy, it's just a little off the beaten path.  From Clarksville, take Highway 103 north, bear right at the intersection with Highway 215, and keep going into the small community of Oark.  If it's eating time, stop and get burgers at the Oark General Store.  You will not regret it.  Keep going through Oark and 0.1 mile out of town, turn left on CR-5261 (old CR-34).  Go 3.6 miles and bear left onto CR-6200.  The name of this road changes to CR-35, but just stay on it.  At 1.1 miles down CR-6200/CR-35, bear left to stay on CR-35.  Go another 1.0 mile; you should cross the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT).  A few yards past the OHT crossing is a branch track on the right, with a space you can pull off the road to park.

From this parking location, go back down the road the way you came the short distance to the Ozark Highlands Trail and turn left (west) onto it.  You are only going a couple of hundred feet down the OHT, then turning right off the trail to start your bushwhack.  This will take you down the northeast side of a drainage feeding into the main creek in Accord Hollow.  You will want to stay high on the bluff above this creek to get the easiest hiking route.  

South Accord Hollow Falls (41 ft)
Depending on water conditions, there are a couple of nice waterfalls you might want to check out on the way to Accord Hollow Falls, or on the way back.  If there is water in the first small creek you cross as you travel down this drainage on the right, you can go down the bluff and find a couple of small waterfalls about six feet high each.  These are Unnamed Falls #1 and Unnamed Falls #2, and are on separate feeders at the top of this tributary creek just before they merge.  Going further down the drainage, you come to a nice 41 foot waterfall I call South Accord Hollow Falls.

Marker for access point to Accord Hollow Falls
Leaving South Accord Hollow Falls, we went back up to the crest of the bluffline and continued to follow the bench at this elevation around, keeping pretty much the same elevation.  As you come around the bluffline from the creek with South Accord Hollow Falls to the main Accord Hollow Creek, you come to the access point for Accord Hollow Falls in approximately another 250 yards (see the GPS track at the bottom of this post).  At this point, you can go down to just below the initial drop of this bluffline.  There is a distinctive rock formation here as a check that you have the right spot to drop below the bluffline.

Accord Hollow Falls
To get to the base of Accord Hollow Falls, stick to the base of the rock cliff part of the bluffline until a second bench (more of a ledge) starts to form.  Then drop below that ledge and stick to the base of that rock face until you come around to the base of Accord Hollow Falls.  This waterfall is beautiful in photos, but is awesome in person.  It is about 66 feet tall, with two distinct tiers. The power and majesty of this waterfall is fantastic, especially when it is flowing very well as it was today.

We hung around Accord Hollow Falls for quite a while; it is definitely that type of waterfall.  There is another waterfall pouring off the northwest bluffline, but today it was all but obscured by the spring vegetation.  We eventually made our way back.  By the time we were all back, it was going on 6:00 pm.  We were starving, and even Boomer was worn out.  So we decided to forego the trip to Estep Creek Falls this time, as well as Cove Creek.  But I made a mental note to set an alarm and join Dan, Jim, and David on the Cove Creek hike in the morning.

I would highly recommend this hike, but this is one I would not do without a GPS.  You could find your way without one, but it would be real easy to get lost here as well.  
GPS Track - Accord Hollow


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