Saturday, December 19, 2015

Terwilliger Falls, Pine Hollow, Richland Wilderness Area, Arkansas Ozarks

12/19/2015 - Pine Hollow and Terwilliger Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.79839,  -92.95774,  1040 feet
  Terwilliger Falls:  35.79226,  -92.93923,  1210 feet
  Unnamed Falls #1:  35.78324,  -92.93655,  1103 feet
  Unnamed Falls #3:  35.79324,  -92.93655
  Unnamed Falls #4:  35.79319,  -92.93705

Pet Friendly:  Dogs on or off leash should be fine.  You will have to cross Falling Water Creek, however, so depending on the size of the dog and the flow in the creek, it may have some difficulty there.

Motorcycle Friendly:  No.  The dirt road is definitely too rough and too long.  Wouldn't take my cruiser on it.

Hiking Statistics:  Boomer and I logged 2.51 miles on the GPS trip meter, but from the parking location to Terwilliger Falls is only about 0.75 miles.  The lowest elevation (Falling Water Creek) to the highest elevation was only 300 feet, and not a lot of repetitive climbing.  This is a bushwhack, but I would call it a moderately difficult one only because of the need to cross Falling Water Creek.  Outside of that, I would call it a relatively easy bushwhack this time of year.

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

Terwilliger Falls
Today, I was looking for a relatively short hike that Boomer and I could go do just to see something new and get out of the house.  This time of year we tend to stay very busy with holiday stuff and visiting friends and family, so I didn't have a lot of time, but definitely needed to get out in the woods.  I had seen a photo of Terwilliger Falls posted by Patrick Caple on Google Earth, and knew it should be a fairly quick and easy hike, so Boomer (our German Shepherd) and I loaded up the FJ and took off for the Richland Wilderness area, my favorite waterfall chasing area.

Falling Water Falls today - my drive-by photo
To get there, go to the Richland Campground.  If you are not familiar with it, from Highway 7 turn east on Highway 16.  Go 9.8 miles on Highway 16, then turn left.  This is Upper Falling Water Road, and merges into Falling Water Road.  Go 9.2 miles from Highway 16 and turn left into the campground; there is a blue road sign here that says "Campground Road".  Along Falling Water Road you will pass Falling Water Falls, the low water bridge, and many other nearby waterfalls.  

Old Trail Head Marker
Southwest of Campground

Go all the way to the back of the campground where it overlooks Falling Water Creek and park.  For this hike, head upstream and away from the confluence with Richland Creek.  From the southwest corner of the campground, there is a trail  that was maintained way back in the days before the Richland Wilderness Area was designated by an act of congress.  This trail will take you right upstream along the top of the bluff overlooking Falling Water Creek.  When you see a fence on the left of the trail, you are approximately where the creek from Pine Hollow flows into Falling Water Creek.

My "el-cheapo" water socks

It is only about a quarter mile to Falling Water Creek, and we actually hiked past the bottom of Pine Hollow to get to a decent place to make our crossing of Falling Water Creek.  Right at the mouth of Pine Hollow, Falling Water Creek has a large, deep pool;  not the place to try to ford it.  Today, the water in this creek was running pretty good, and there just seemed no possible way to rock-hop across at any point.  So I broke out my "el cheapo water socks" - a couple of hefty trash bags I could put my legs into and tie up above my knees.  This actually worked pretty well until I was almost across the creek, then I slipped and fell to my knees in the water.  The bags were certainly not water tight, and I got a good deal of water into them and into my boots.

Flow from Pine Hollow where it flows into
Falling Water Creek - with Boomer
So now I was soaked from the knees down, and it was about 34 degrees this 
morning.  brrr.  I had an extra pair of socks, but they also had gotten half wet when water got inside my sling pack.  At any rate, I was across now, and it wasn't the first time I hiked with soaking wet feet, so I trudged back downstream to the mouth of Pine Hollow and started hiking up it on the left.  The flow in the creek at this point was very low, but experience has taught me not to use that as an indicator of what the flow conditions upstream might be.  In the Ozarks, creeks often go underground for a distance, and spring back up with full flow in unexpected places.

Pine Hollow Creek
On the left, I found an old trace road running on the bluff above the creek and followed it.  It hasn't been used as a road for several decades, from the size of the trees in it, and was barely a trace in most places.  But following along where the road had once been cut was certainly easier than bushwhacking on the rock jumbles along the creek.  I passed a grouping of smaller waterfalls about a quarter mile into the hollow, and decided to hike along the creek itself on the way back down.  

Terwilliger Falls
About another quarter mile above that was Terwilliger Falls.  As you can see in the photos, the flow in the creek at this point is much, much, higher than it was downstream where it flows into Falling Water Creek.  Today, it was enough to make the waterfall look fantastic.  As with most Ozark waterfalls, photos really doesn't do it justice.  The setting of Terwilliger Falls, with the giant bluff and crag above the left side, was beautiful.  By the time I finished taking a few photos, Boomer had swam in the crystal clear water of the pool a couple of times and climbed almost to the top of the waterfall.  

Pine Hollow Falls #1
By this time, my feet were getting pretty cold, but I decided "why not"? and set off up the slope on the left to follow Boomer upstream.  Above Terwilliger Falls,  Pine Hollow is a very deep, steep sided, canyon.  There were a few small waterfalls and cascades, but nothing of significance in the half mile or so we hiked upstream from Terwilliger Falls.  I would have liked to have explored more of this neat series of hollows sandwiched between Falling Water Creek and Richland Creek, but by this time my feet felt like blocks of ice, so we started back.  

Pine Hollow Falls #2
This time we descended down to creek level above the series of waterfalls i had noticed on the way up.  While not nearly as large or powerful as Terwilliger Falls, they were pretty in their own right.  Continuing on downstream, we got back to our crossing of Falling Water Creek.  My el-cheapo water sock trash bags were clearly no good - they had been torn in my earlier fall.  So I just grabbed them and cinched down the sling pack, and started wading across.  After all, it's not like my boots could get any wetter.  This time, I managed to slip in the middle of the creek and got soaked from the waist down.  I did manage to shake the water off my camera and cell phone, and they appear to have survived Okay.

Pine Hollow Falls #3
The hike along the bluff to the campground went quickly, and I was happy to 
get to the FJ and start peeling wet boots and socks off my feet.  I didn't bring a dry set of clothes, so I just kept the wet pants on and Boomer and I headed back home.  At least in the FJ, I could crank up the heat on my now bare feet.

Despite being overly wet and overly cold, this was still a great hike and I'm glad I ventured out today.  I'm old, but not incapable of learning, so next time I know I have to cross a creek that may have substantial volume like this, I'll bring my waders and take the time to do it right.  This is highly recommended, and probably will be best under wetter conditions.  The only other photo I can find of Terwilliger Falls is Patrick's, and it appeared to be early summer with lower flow. 
Pine Hollow GPS TRack

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