Thursday, June 4, 2015

Petebear Falls, Spoke Plant Schoolhouse, Arkansas Ozarks

6/3/2015 - Petebear Falls and Spoke Plant Schoolhouse

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude)
  Parking location - Petebear Falls:  35.75027  -93.60290,  
  Petebear Falls: 35.74986  -93.60301
  Schoolhouse in Little Mulberry Creek near Spoke Plant:  35.76852  -93.58894

Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs on or off leash should be fine.

Motorcycle Friendly: No, not really.  The dirt roads are in relatively good shape, but are still dirt roads.  While you could take a heavy bike on this road, you wouldn't like it, and neither would your bike.

Petebear Falls
Photo by Dan Frew
This was the last stop of a full day of hiking today.  My hiking companions today, Dan Frew and Jim Fitsimones, and I had already been to Bootlegger Falls and Sixty Foot Falls.  Compared to those bushwhacks, this was basically just sightseeing.  I hesitate to even call this one a hike, since for both of these points of interest you simply park on the side of the road.  For Petebear Falls, you park and climb down to the grotto immediately below the road.  For Spoke Plant Schoolhouse, you park and find a way across the creek.  All I had seen on Petebear Falls was a photo Brian Emfinger had posted on Panoramio, and all I knew of Spoke Plant was the history Dan had researched.  

To get there, take Highway 103 north approximately 20 miles from Clarksville and bear right at the intersection with Highway 215.  Go 0.8 miles east on Highway 215 and turn left on CR-5211.  Go 7.9 miles on this road.  The road name changes to CR-100, CR-1005, and CR-35, but just stay on the main road.  Bear left on CR-6151 and go another 1.4 miles, and park on the left (north) side of the road.  The road bends sharply right about a half mile from the parking location, so make sure you stay with it.  

Petebear Falls is below the road on the left (north) side in the sharp left turn just before the parking location.  At the GPS coordinates for the parking location, there is a culvert passing under the road.  There is an access down to the base of the waterfall here.  It is not that difficult a scramble, but apparently someone thinks this is a trash heap and have dumped some litter off the bluff downstream of the waterfall.  It is very disappointing, to say the least, to find this kind of thing in such a beautiful place.  Fortunately, the vast majority of Ozark waterfalls are far from the nearest road.  The kind of folks that trash up a place like this are not likely to hike out to a remote location.  Okay, I'll turn my rant mode off now.

Spoke Plant Schoolhouse
Our next spot was a little piece of Arkansas History.  At one time, when folks used wagons to get around, there was a need for wagon wheels.  Those wheels needed spokes, and the spokes were made right in this valley.  As those dang automobiles bred like rabbits and proliferated, the need for wagons declined, and so did the need for wagon wheel spokes.  The community dissolved as the jobs went away, and today it has all but vanished.  There is still a one room schoolhouse standing across the road from where the old Spoke Plant post office and general store used to be.  It is actually on an island in the Little Mulberry Creek, which runs along the road here.  

Inside the Spoke Plant Schoolhouse
To get there, continue driving north on CR-6151 for another 1.8 miles.  At 1.4 miles, where the road crosses from Johnson County into Madison County, the road name changes to CR-4845 (old CR-150).  The old schoolhouse will be on the left, back in the trees across the creek from the road.  Where I marked the GPS coordinates, there is a large downed tree trunk that you can walk on across the creek.  Not a lot of hiking involved, but I find the hidden history of these places fascinating. 

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