Sunday, January 24, 2016

Graves Creek Canyon, Arkansas Ozarks near Bullfrog Valley

1/23/2016 -  Forever Falls, Graves Canyon Falls (2), and Graves Creek Canyon

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude, Longitude, Elevation)
  Parking #1:  35.58566,  -93.18615,  1242 feet
  Parking #2:  35.58892   -93.18586,  1011 feet
  Dead Pool Falls:  35.59213,  -93.18955,  710 feet
  Forever Falls:  35.59188,  -93.18915,  704 feet
  Upper Graves Canyon Falls:  35.59512,  -93.18660,  688 feet
  Lower Graves Canyon Falls:  35.59534,  -93.18619,  682 feet
  Falls #1:  35.59176   -93.18905,  755 feet
  Falls #2:  35.59187   -93.18905,  745 feet
  Falls #3:  35.59296   -93.19038,  722 feet
  Falls #4:  35.59359  -93.17353,  600 feet

Pet Friendly: This area should not be a problem for dogs off leash.  If your dog does not do well off leash, you might want to leave it home.  This hike is mostly bushwhacking, and there are some areas above the bluff that are pretty thick with undergrowth.

Hiking Statistics: We hiked a total of 3.82 miles on the big loop by my GPS trip meter, most of that a moderately difficult bushwhack.  The part that did have a trail was the return hike, which is back along the Jeep road.  The climb on the way back is an elevation change of 400 feet or 650 feet, depending on where you park.  But again, that is along the Jeep road, so it is fairly easy hiking.

Motorcycle Friendly: No.  It is over six miles of gravel road.  While the road is fairly well maintained when you first get on it, it soon narrows to one lane and and gets rough in spots.  

GPS files (.gpx format):
  Graves Creek Waypoints
  Graves Creek canyon track

Graves Creek
Graves Creek is easily one of the most scenic creeks in the Arkansas Ozarks, and that's saying a mouthful.  It is only two or three miles from its origin to where it flows into Big Piney, but what a beautiful couple of three miles it is.  I had not been to the area since July of 2014 (blog post here), so I was way overdue.  I was going to be hiking today with some friends, Dan and Shelly Frew, and David and Amber Dedman, so we all met at the Dover town square and headed out for the hills.

Unnamed Falls #4
To get there, go north on Hwy 7 from Dover and turn left (west) on Hwy 164.  Go 4.6 miles and turn right (north) on Pilot Rock Road.  This is the first right after the double bridge over Piney Creek, about 0.5 miles from the end of the bridge.  Go 4.5 miles on Pilot Rock Road and turn right on Graves Creek Road (FR-1800A).  Go down Graves Creek Road 1.6 miles and you are at parking location #1.  You can park on either side of the road here if you have a low clearance vehicle.   

Unnamed Falls #2
A high clearance vehicle can continue on this road all the way down to where it runs into Graves Creek itself.  See the map at the bottom of the post.  We continued on the road another 0.8 miles and parked where an old trace road runs toward Graves Creek (north).  We hiked along the old road until it swung to the right, then we followed a small drainage northwest toward Graves Creek.  This is the drainage feeding Forever Falls, a nice 47-foot waterfall that spills over the bluff and falls directly into Graves Creek.  Just before it plunges over the cliff are two smaller waterfalls, Unnamed Falls #1 and #2.  

Dead Pool Falls
After visiting the two upper waterfalls on this tributary, we hiked laterally around the bluff to the left, going upstream from Forever Falls to where a bluffline break allows for a more gradual hike down to the creek level.  This will bring you down to a point close to where Dead Pool Falls is, and a short hike upstream will take you to Unnamed Falls #3.  Falls #3 and Dead Pool Falls are both on Graves Creek, and had plenty of flow today.  Forever Falls, however, was showing the strain of going over three weeks without appreciable rainfall.

Unnamed Falls #3
Forever Falls, as well as Upper and Lower Graves Canyon Falls,  are actually on smaller tributaries that flow into Graves Creek.  All three waterfalls flow over the high, steep, blufflines and spill right into the creek bed.  They might have had disappointingly low flow today, but Graves Creek itself never disappoints.  It is a beautifully scenic creek, especially as it flows through a mile or so of very canyonlike terrain starting at Forever Falls.  

Unnamed Falls #1
Continuing on downstream through the Graves Creek canyon, we passed Upper and Lower Graves Canyon Falls, only about 50 yards apart from where they flow over the north rim of the canyon.  The upper waterfall did not have enough flow today to be "photo worthy", and the lower waterfall had enough to be noticed, but a far cry from its full-flow beauty.  From here, it is actually shorter to hike back the way you came, and I did that in my last visit to Graves Creek.

Lower Graves Canyon Falls
As I said, however, Graves Creek itself is a very scenic creek, and we were happy to be out in the wilderness in such a place.   Also, if you continue downstream for another mile or so, you come to the road that you parked on.  And just a few yards downstream of the road is yet another unnamed waterfall on Graves Creek, Falls #4.  Hiking back to parking location #2 is still a climb of about 400 feet, but there is a huge difference in hiking that on a road or trail instead of bushwhacking up a steep, slippery, rocky, slope.  If you parked at parking location #1, it is a 650-foot elevation difference.  Again, it's good exercise, but hiking on a Jeep road still pretty easy hiking.

After getting back to the vehicles, we still had a some time left this afternoon.  After a brief discussion, we decided to go check out nearby Rough Falls in the Longpool area.  The hike so far today was cold but thoroughly enjoyable.  See the next post for the hike in Rough Hollow.
GPS Track - Graves Creek
Red - Jeep Road to Parking Location #2
Blue - Hiking route

Rough Falls, Arkansas Ozarks near Longpool

1/23/2016 -  Rough Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Park #1:  35.53233, -93.14661, 732 ft.
  Park #2:   35.53148  -93.14735,  688 ft.
  Rough Falls:  35.53339, -93.14486 640 ft.
  Rough Falls Access:  35.53257, -93.14438,  601 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  right off Longpool Road and would be okay.  Parking locations #1, #2, are on a very rough Jeep road and are no place for a cruiser or street bike.

Files (.gpx format) - Map with GPS Tracks at bottom of this post
  Rough Hollow waypoints
  Rough Falls GPS track

Rough Falls
After finishing our hike through the Graves Creek canyon earlier today, my hiking companions and I decided to check out another waterfall in Rough Hollow.  After all, it was practically "right on the way" (excuse #2).  It was already afternoon, so we were not doing the grand tour of all the nice waterfalls in Rough Hollow, only a quick trip to Rough Falls.  You can see the blog post for ALL of the many waterfalls in Rough Hollow here.  

Rough Falls today
We were already in Bullfrog Valley, so we just made a short detour up Longpool Road.  For those not familiar with this area, I'll give more complete driving directions:  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, but depending on the capabilities of your vehicle, you can choose to go down FR-1803 another 0.1 mile to an area used as a campsite.  Continuing past this point is not advised unless you have a high clearance vehicle.  After 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 in this hollow,  including Rough Falls. 

Rough Falls - May 2015
At this parking location, there is an old trace road that branches off to the right (east).  This is wide enough to drive your 4WD vehicle down to park a little closer to the waterfall, up to a berm across the trail a short distance off FR-1803.  This old road wraps around the hollow, crossing the creek just above Rough Falls.  There are access points listed above for bluffline breaks to access the base of Rough Falls, approximately 50 yards downstream on each side.  Today, Rough Falls did not have the flow it did on our last visit in May.  The difference in scenery between winter and late spring is also dramatic.

We took in the view, took some photos, and scrambled back up the bluffline break.  Once back on the old road the going is very easy,  and we soon made our way back to the vehicles.  Only going to Rough Falls makes this a short and quick hike, exactly what we had time for today.  David and Amber live over two hours away, so a hiking day for them is cut shorter on both ends.  This is a little over a half mile each way, and very little elevation change other than climbing down into the canyon and back up.  This is a great hollow to visit; I recommend planning on a full day of hiking and visiting all the waterfalls in Rough Hollow as we did last May.
GPS Track - Rough Falls

Hideout Cave, Arkansas Ozarks near Bullfrog Valley

1/23/2016 -  Hideout Cave

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Park:  35.53006   -93.21792,  1044 feet
  Hideout Cave:  35.52963  -93.22128,  954 feet

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

Motorcycle Friendly: No.  This is several miles up a logging road.

Files (.gpx format) - Map with GPS Tracks at bottom of this post
  Logging road track up Evans Mountain
  Hideout Cave track

My hiking companions and I had already done two hikes today.  We did a complete loop of Graves Creek canyon, then went over to Rough Falls for a quick trip to check on that waterfall.  David and Amber had more than a two-hour drive home, so their hiking day was done.  But I, along with friends Dan and Shelly Frew, had time for one more quick hike before calling it a day.  It really is a blessing to be a 'local' and live close to these beautiful locations.  On our way into the Graves Creek area, we had noticed that the forest service had left the gate into the road leading up Evans Mountain open, probably for deer hunting.  Dan had hiked into this area long ago and knew of a cave high on top of the mountain, hidden amongst a large rock formation.  

To get there, so north on Hwy 7 for 5.5 miles from the intersection of Highways 7 and 27 in Dover (Dover Supermarket) and turn left (west) on Hwy 164.  Go 4.7 miles and turn right (north) on Pilot Rock Road.  This is the first right after the double bridge over Piney Creek, about 0.5 miles from the end of the bridge.  Go 1.8 miles on Pilot Rock Road and turn left on Jakes Creek Road.  Instead of going down Jakes Creek Road, however, immediately turn left onto the Forest Service road at that intersection.  It will have a gate on it, sometimes left open and sometimes not.  You will need a vehicle with good clearance for this road, preferably a good 4WD.

We drove 3.61 miles along this logging road until we were blocked by a tree across the road.  This point is the parking location listed above.  From this point, it was less than a half mile to the jumble of very large rocks atop Evans Mountain that contained the cave.  There is no indication of a cave opening from the top, so you have to go down to the 'front' of the rocks to the cave entrance. The cave itself is not large, maybe 30 feet in diameter, and about ten feet high in the center.   There are numerous inscriptions and carvings on the rocks outside the cave, but time has weathered them to such an extent that I could not make out most of them.

We hiked less than a mile round trip, so I would hesitate to even call it a hike.  This was more like an off road adventure into an area we normally would not be able to easily access.  The logging road fords across Jakes Creek twice and winds its way up Evans Mountain.  The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular.   
GPS tracks for Hideout Cave
black - logging road
red - hiking route

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Still Hollow Polyfoss - South Prong, Arkansas Ozarks near Freeman Springs, Arkansas

1/15/2016 - Still Hollow Waterfalls in the South Prong

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location #3:  35.62982,  -93.08622,  1460 ft.
  Still Hollow Falls:  35.63843   -98.08373,  1275 feet
  Revenuer Falls:  35.63695   -93.08767,  1159 feet
  Falls #24:  35.62949   -93.08759,  1387 feet
  Falls #25:  35.63216   -93.08723,  1295 feet
  Falls #26:  35.63343   -93.08785,  1283 feet
  Falls #28:  35.63769   -93.08766,  1144 feet
  Falls #29:  35.63805   -93.08723,  1227 feet
  Falls #30:  35.63798   -93.08579,  1184 feet 

Pet Friendly:  Dogs off leash may be okay, but there are some areas they may have difficulty getting into and out of.  This is a difficult bushwhack.  If you think your dog needs to be on leash, I would leave it at home.

Motorcycle Friendly:  Not really.  You will be going just a short distance down Dare Mine Road.  This is a dirt road, and not too bad at the beginning but it gets progressively worse.

Hiking Statistics:  From top to bottom, Still Hollow is over 1200 feet of
elevation change.  Today we hiked a total of 3.85 miles in this prong of Still Hollow, with a minimum-to-maximum elevation change of 770 feet.  Most of that was the 600 foot climb from Still Hollow Falls back up to Dare Mine Road.  As with most areas in the Ozarks, getting to waterfalls means repeated climbs and descents into the waterfall grottoes.  This is a difficult bushwhack, not just because of the steep climbs, but there is a lot of dense undergrowth in the higher elevations of this hollow. 

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

Still Hollow Falls - with Rick, Dan, and Jim
Photo by Jim Fitsimones
Back to Still Hollow?  Already?  You better believe it.  On our visit to Still Hollow a couple of months ago, Dan Frew and I covered most of the northern prongs of this huge hollow and found 23 significant waterfalls, with oodles of smaller waterfalls and cascades.  You can see that blog post here.  We ran out of steam (and daylight) long before we could get into the very large southern prong of Still Hollow.  Dan had ventured into this area on his own a couple of weeks ago and found several waterfalls.  At that time, he said it was great but "could have used more rain."  In the two weeks since, it hasn't received any more rain, but we didn't let that slow us down.  Dan agreed to lead another frequent hiking companion, Jim Fitsimones, and me back into the area.  Besides, the weatherman said we had an 80% chance of rain last night.  The weatherman was a big fat liar, but we didn't know that when we made our hiking plans.

Falls #25
After meeting at Hotel Henry for a big breakfast, we headed out before 6:00 am.  Why, you ask?  Someone is all about the photography, and wanted to make sure we were there for the "golden hour", that time when the sunlight would be just right for photographing waterfalls.  I was more concerned with the fact that it was supposed to still be raining (it wasn't) and that it's hard to hike in the dark (it is).  It is less than a half hour from my house to Still Hollow, and it was still pitch dark when we got there.

Revenuer Falls
Driving directions to Still Hollow are fairly easy.  This will be on the opposite side of this large hollow from where we parked for our tour of the northern prongs.  From the Dover Supermarket (intersection of Highways 7 and 27), go north on Highway 7 for 21.2 miles.  This will take you to the small community of Freeman Springs.  Like many communities in northwest Arkansas, don't expect a bunch of houses or a sign or anything.  Turn left (southwest) on Dare Mine Road (aka CR-1806).  Go 2.9 miles on Dare Mine Road and park.  This is the parking location we used today.  There is another location we are scoping out that may be a much better way to access this hollow, but that will be another visit to this area.

Still Hollow Falls
So there we were, ready to go but still dark as it could be.  Bushwhacking in  areas like this is difficult enough; bushwhacking in the dark is just silly.  Fortunately, we did have some LED headlamps, so we each strapped one on and took off down the drainage.  The big southern prong of Still Hollow has a fork with two major branches, and we went right down the lower one, the branch furthest south and west.  Even with the headlamps, bushwhacking in the dark is no picnic.  We did make it down into the hollow to where the first waterfall was without major incident.  Falls #24 for Still Hollow (the first 23 are in this previous blog post).  

Falls #30
Fortunately, the first pre-dawn light was just starting to filter its way into the hollow, enough that we could make out a little of the surroundings for this waterfall.  Not so luckily, there was nowhere near enough light for photography.  I generally leave an ND filter on my camera and didn't really want to fumble around with it in the dark.  After milling around aimlessly for a couple of minutes, we decided to hike on downstream.  Whose bright idea was it to come out here in the middle of the night, anyway?  As the crow flies, it is only about a quarter mile from where we parked to this waterfall.  As we stumbled around in the dark, who knows how far it is?

Falls #25
The day got lighter quickly, and in approximately another quarter mile, we came to Falls #25, a nice little two-tiered waterfall flowing into a large pool with a huge rock crag hanging over it. Most people like the big, tall, waterfalls.  I like the beautiful ones, and this one certainly is that, no matter its size.   Falls #26 was a couple hundred yards downstream from that, another small waterfall spilling into a large pool.  Continuing downstream, we came to Revenuer Falls.

Revenuer Falls - with Rick
Photo by Dan Frew
Revenuer Falls is one of those taller waterfalls we were just discussing.  I took altimeter readings at the top and the base to try to determine the height of the waterfall and got a difference of 37 feet.  The problem with handheld GPS altitude readings is that the margin of accuracy can swing by a few feet or yards.  By doing some scaling against people standing next to it, I think it is closer to 30 feet tall.  Still, a pretty nice sized waterfall.  When Dan came upon this one on his first trip to the south prong, he named it Revenuer Falls in keeping with the reason Still Hollow is called Still Hollow.

Falls #26
A couple of hundred yards downstream from Revenuer Falls we found Falls #28, another waterfall in the 'shorter but prettier' category.  Since Dan's first trip to this area, water flow was of course somewhat less after two weeks without rain, but this one still looked great.  I will make a point of coming back to this part of Still Hollow after a good rain to see these water features really sizzle.   From Falls #28, we went downstream to the intersection with the other branch of the south prong, then went upstream from the fork.  

Falls #28
Falls #29 was just upstream from the fork, a rippling, tiered, waterfall.  Further upstream was Falls #30, a beautiful, cascading type waterfall in the 16 to 18 foot range.  This bluff wall slopes very steeply in at this point, and it is quite a climb to hike up and above the bluff to continue upstream to the location this hollow was named for.  

With a name like Still Hollow, we suspected there was at least one still operating here for some time.  Indeed, we have found remains of locations for old whiskey stills in a large
Remnants of old still at Still Hollow Falls
number of the remote hollows in this part of the Ozarks.  You would think for a hollow actually named Still Hollow, it had to be a major operation.  At Still Hollow Falls, we found an ideal location for a still.  Apparently others thought the same, as there were many artifacts left from back in the day.  There were remnants of old stoves, hoops from wooden barrels, and rock work for the base of a large still boiler.  The waterfall itself provided a ready and steady source of running water.  

Still Hollow Falls
Since this was the location for the hollow's namesake still, it is the one we are calling Still Hollow Falls.  There are many others in this hollow that are bigger, taller and more powerful.  There are others that are prettier, although I suppose that is in the eye of the beholder.  All that being said, this is the waterfall with the hollow's history, so it's the namesake waterfall now.  We spent a good deal of time poking around at this one, then continued on our way.

Upstream from Still Hollow Falls, there are three tributaries that each have a nice waterfall.  Today, they combined with enough flow to make Still Hollow Falls look good, but individually they were a little lacking for water flow.  Again, there will be waterfalls I'll have to check on and document after we get some rain.  From this point there was not much more upstream, and we continued our big loop up out of the canyon on this fork and back toward Dare Mine Road.  

Falls #29
Like the rest of Still Hollow, the brush and briers in the undergrowth were much worse at the higher elevations.  Choosing to hike a little higher versus a longer route with this rough bushwhacking, we headed straight up and out of the hollow to Dare Mine Road, a climb of over 600 feet.  Once back on the road, it was very easy hiking down the road to where we had parked.  

Like the rest of Still Hollow, the large south prong was a 'waterfall rich' area, certainly enough to call this a polyfoss.  It is very difficult hiking in rough terrain, so don't expect an easy hike.  But if you are up for a little bushwhacking, this certainly has a large number of nice waterfalls in a relatively small area.  In my humble opinion, it is also certainly worth the effort.  We had enough easy hiking time on the road to rest up, and it was still only about 10:30 am, so we decided to take on nearby Elmer Page Hollow also.  See the next post for this date!
GPS Track - Still Hollow, South Prong

Elmer Page Hollow wateralls, Arkansas Ozarks near Freeman Springs

1/15/2016 - Fudd Falls, Wabbit Falls, Elmer's Still Falls, and Elmer Page Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location #1:  35.60718   -93.0031,  1339 feet
  Parking Location #2:  35.61171   -93.10847,  1225 feet
  Fudd Falls:  35.61283   -93.10444,  1048 feet
  Wabbit Falls:  35.61294   -93.10415,  1052 feet
  Elmer's Still Falls:  35.61291   -93.09945,  1135 feet
  Elmer Page Falls:  35.61570   -93.09752,  1252 feet

Pet Friendly:  Dogs on or off leash may be okay, but there are some areas they may have difficulty getting into and out of.  This is a moderate bushwhack, but there are some steep parts and some rock scrambles to hike over.  If you think your dog needs to be on leash, I would not recommend you take it.

Motorcycle Friendly:  No.  This is almost five miles down Dare Mine Road.  It is a dirt road, and not too bad at the beginning but it does get progressively worse.

Hiking Statistics:  From top to bottom, Elmer Page Hollow is over 1100 feet of elevation change.  Today we hiked a total of 3.72 miles in this hollow, with a minimum-to-maximum elevation change of 547 feet.  More than half of that is a gradual climb as we hiked up the creek, with only 250 feet in the climb from Elmer Page Falls up to Dare Mine Road.  Almost all of our hiking route was in relatively open hardwood forest, with minimal undergrowth.  I would rate this as an easy to moderate bushwhack. 

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

Elmer Page Falls
After completing our hiking loop through the south prong of Still Hollow, my friends, Dan Frew and Jim Fitsimones, and I found ourselves with much of the day still free.  Mind you, we ate breakfast this morning at 5:00 am and left for Still Hollow after that, and hiking any part of Still Hollow is somewhat strenuous, so we weren't exactly starting fresh.  That being said, we had plenty left in the tank to take on another hiking exploration.  Elmer Page Hollow (not to be confused with Page Hollow) was adjacent to Still Hollow on the south, right along Dare Mine Road.  We happened to already be parked on Dare Mine Road, so it was only an extra couple of miles.

Elmer's Still Falls
To get there, from the Dover Supermarket (intersection of Highways 7 and 27), go north on Highway 7 for 21.2 miles.  This will take you to the small community of Freeman Springs.  Turn left (southwest) on Dare Mine Road (aka CR-1806).  Go 4.6 miles on Dare Mine Road and turn right onto a Jeep road.  If you are not comfortable taking your vehicle on this type of road, park it (parking location #1) and hoof it the rest of the way.  If you have a decent 4WD or high clearance vehicle, you can continue on another half mile and park.  This is the parking location #2, the one we used today.

Elmer Page Hollow Creek - with Dan
Note the lack of undergrowth
The Jeep road we parked on runs right along the top of Elmer Page Hollow, with the hollow to your right (north) as you drive in.  We hiked straight down (north) toward the main creek running through Elmer Page Hollow.  After getting home and plotting our hike on my Topo map system, I noticed another smaller prong coming in on the opposite side of the creek from where we angled down to it.  This prong is fairly short, but steep and looks promising.  I would not be surprised to find some nice waterfalls in it as well.  I will check it out on my next trip to this hollow, and I'll definitely be back.

Fudd Falls - with Rick
Photo by Jim Fitsimones
The going was a little steep, but almost devoid of undergrowth of any kind.  This was such a dramatic change from neighboring Still Hollow I was a little taken aback, but I'll take it.  It is still a bushwhack technically, but I find this kind of hiking off trail thoroughly enjoyable.  The entire hollow was very open in this manner.  We soon came to our first waterfall along the main creek, a wide shelf type waterfall in the 18 foot range.  The 'Elmer' in this hollow's name conjured up a number of possibilities for naming waterfalls, and Elmer Fudd Falls was one of those.  This one ended up with that moniker.

Wabbit Falls
We found a nice set of two waterfalls not ten yards from the top of Fudd Falls.  I'm not sure whether to call this two separate waterfalls or a two tiered fall, but I'll stick to calling it one set of falls until I'm corrected by some purist willing to educate me.  They extend from bank to bank across the creek.  We have not had substantial rainfall for over two weeks, but I suspect these are spectacular with more flow.  My wife Bethany is quite knowledgeable on classic cartoons and came up with the perfect name for these waterfalls accompanying Fudd Falls.  We'll call them Wabbit Falls.

Site of old still - with Dan and Jim
Continuing upstream, we found an old metal drum with a hole cut into it for a door in the creek itself.  Hmmmm.  Yeah, that does look like something rigged for a still's firebox.   It seems like every remote hollow had a still in it back during prohibition, and quite a few of them kept running long after prohibition was repealed.  Sure enough, a short distance from that up on the left bluff we found a small shelter cave where a still had been set up.  It appears they used a door from a Model-T as the top of the firebox, cutting a hole in it for a stovepipe.  

Elmer's Still Falls
Ergo, the next waterfall kind of named itself; Elmer's Still Falls, since it was near the site of the old still.  This is one of the smaller of the waterfalls we found in the hollow, but also definitely one of the coolest.  Water falls off a shelf, into a big groove, and dumps out perpendicular to the main flow above it.  You can see where water also splays out over the large boulder when it has just a bit more flow than it did today.  Today, there was just a dribble running over the front of the large boulder.

Elmer Page Falls
Upstream from Elmer's Still Falls, the bluffline got much steeper, taller, and more sheer.  We were all thinking "if this bluffline ever closes in, it should have a nice sized waterfall."  And it did.  We hiked in along the base of the bluffline and found Elmer Page Falls, the largest that we found in the hollow.  By this time in the afternoon, the sun was so bright it was almost impossible to get a good shot of the waterfall, but as you can see, it is impressive.  I'm always amazed at finds like this.  To have such beauty tucked away and unknown is almost incomprehensible to me.  

Fudd Falls
I noted a large amount of water flow from seeps in the cracks in the bluff surrounding Elmer Page Falls, a couple of them smaller waterfalls in themselves.  That tells me this is likely an area that will stay relatively wet even in drier times.  I intend to come back to this area after a good rain, but I'm also thinking I need to check it out when other creeks are drying up.  

Wabbit Falls
After leaving Elmer Page Falls, we followed the creek upstream for a distance.  It appeared to lose a good deal of the flow by the time we were only a couple of hundred feet below the top of the ridge line above the hollow, so we decided to call it quits for the day and head to CJ's for burgers.  We headed straight up the east side of the hollow toward Dare Mine Road.  It is a little steep, but is a relatively short hike and still with minimal undergrowth.  

Dan and Jim on approach to Fudd Falls
This is about as rough as it gets
We reached Dare Mine Road and hiked back down it to where we had parked.  Between us, we had four different GPS devices, all with different mileage on trip meters; anywhere from 3.72 miles to 5.15 miles.  I went with 3.72 miles, since that was what the track on my handheld GPS profiled out as.  This was our second good bushwhack of the day, but very enjoyable.  It was steep in some places and some places involved a fair amount of rock-hopping, but all in all it was a very enjoyable hike.  I would highly recommend this to anyone willing to get off trail and bushwhack.  Most hikers should have no problems with this one.  I'm looking forward to my next visit here already.
GPS Track - Elmer Page Hollow

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bradley Creek Polyfoss, White Oak Mountain, Arkansas Ozarks north of Hector

1/9/2016 - Bradley Creek waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location #1:  35.46604,  -92.86269,  1223 feet
  Parking Location #2:  35.47092,  -92.86812,   1244 feet
  Falls #1:  35.47798,  -92.87278,  1218 feet
  Falls #2:  35.47824,  -92.87950,  1202 feet 
  Falls #3:  35.47803,  -92.87908,  1184 feet
  Falls #4:  35.47734,  -92.87906,  1109 feet
  Falls #5:  35.47693,  -92.87874,  1085 feet
  Falls #6:  35.47651,  -92.87875,  1044 feet 
  Falls #7:  35.47454,  -92.87751,  933 feet
  Bathtub Falls:  35.47271,  -92.87413,  897 feet
  Bluffline Break:  35.47151,  -92.87304,  875 feet
  Falls #9:  35.47179,  -92.87195,  912 feet
  Falls #10:  35.47321,  -92.87006,  1054 feet
  Falls #11:  35.47311,  -92.86993,  1056 feet

Pet Friendly:  Dogs off leash may be okay, but there are some areas they may have difficulty getting into and out of.  This is what I would call a very difficult bushwhack.  If you think your dog needs to be on leash, leave it at home.  It is too steep and treacherous to try to take care of the dog as well as yourself.

Motorcycle Friendly:  No.  It is several miles on a dirt and gravel road, no place for a street bike or cruiser.

Hiking Statistics:  We hiked a total of 5.2 miles, with a minimum-to-maximum elevation difference of approximately 500 feet.  That statistic is a little misleading since there were several very steep climbs.  Almost every waterfall required a steep and treacherous climb down to get to the base of the waterfall, then an equally treacherous climb back out.  This was a little more daunting today in very cold, wet, conditions.  I would rate this as a very difficult bushwhack once you actually get into the hollow on each of the three prongs.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Maps of the GPS track are at the bottom of this post.
  Bradley Creek GPS track
  Bradley Creek Waypoints

Bathtub Falls

I had never heard of Bradley Creek until my friend Dan Frew did a little exploring there last Spring, the first person I know of to do some waterfall chasing there in modern times.  This is an area sitting on the south face of White Oak Mountain that folks have just seemed to overlook.  After seeing some of the stunning photos Dan brought back from that visit, I vowed that I would go see the area myself.  Dan told me it was a wet weather area, so I've been waiting for a good time to visit the area after some rain.  I had a good opportunity today, so Boomer and I loaded up the FJ and took off.

Bear right onto
Evans Mountain Road
To get there, drive north from Hector on Highway 27.  Less than a mile from the Big Piney Ranger station in Hector, you cross over Dare Creek.  Look upstream when you cross and you will see a nice little waterfall.  Immediately after crossing Dare Creek, turn right onto White Oak Mountain Road (aka FR-1301).  This is a gravel road, but is a well traveled and fairly well maintained road.  Go 7.0 miles on White Oak Mountain Road and bear right onto Evans Mountain Road.  Go 2.4 miles on Evans Mountain Road and you are at Parking Location #1, on the right (west).  There is a logging road here that you can take as far as you feel comfortable, but only IF have a good 4WD vehicle or ATV.  

Falls #1
Today, there was a big tree down right over the start of the logging road I intended to use, blocking access.  I had done my due diligence, and in pouring over the Topo maps, it appeared there was another old road a bit higher up the mountain that would cut off some foot time, so I parked about a quarter mile down the road.  It looked fairly open under the pines, so I figured "why not?" and started bushwhacking toward the top of the first prong in this system.  Boy, was that a mistake.  It stayed open and underbrush free long enough for me to feel invested in this route.  Then it got a little ugly, with blackberry and briers popping up everywhere.  I quickly modified my bushwhack and headed down to the old road.  Lesson learned; the old road is great, with no growth on it and fairly on the level all the way to the Bradley Creek system.

Falls #5
Once back on the road, we made good time, swinging up around the top of the first two prongs and heading down the creek on the third prong.  Where the road crossed the top of the center prong, I heard a small waterfall and detoured long enough to check it out.  Falls #1 is only four feet high, and would normally be too small to be considered "photo worthy", but it was the first waterfall I found today, so I stopped and checked it out anyway.  Boomer played in the pool, I snapped a couple of photos, and we climbed back to the road and continued on our way. 

Falls #4
We hiked further on the logging road until we came to the third, and westernmost, prong.  As soon as we started hiking downstream, I could hear the roar of a waterfall.  I could see it below the bluffline, but getting to it was another matter.  The hollows in the Bradley Creek drainage are very steep and narrow, and the weather conditions today were not helping at all.  It had been drizzling all morning, and the temperatures up on the mountain had not risen above the 30's.  The steepness of the terrain coupled with wet, loose, leaves and slippery mud and rock, made for treacherous footing and slow going.

Falls #2
Falls #2 is a nice chute-type waterfall in the 18 to 20 foot range.  Like all of the waterfalls in this prong except the very lowest one, it is difficult to get to the base.  Falls #3 is a double waterfall pouring over the east bluffline into this prong of the hollow, not 50 yards downstream of Falls #2.  Continuing downstream, Falls #4, #5, and #6 were one after another, each one about 50 yards downstream of the previous waterfall.  Each of these also had an almost sheer bluffline, with very little room to make our way to the base.  Falls #6 has two drops that are situated such that it is difficult to get a shot with both, and then falls down into a slick little water slide.

Falls #6
After Falls #6, the creek actually stopped dropping at the precipitous rate it had been, and was starting to level out at least a little.  There was still room for one more big drop for Bathtub Falls, named by my friend Jim Fitsimones on a trip he made to Bradley Creek with Dan months ago.  I really don't get the name, but if someone names it, I use that name.  A few of the waterfalls in the Bradley Creek system are so nice they should be named; I'll have to get together with Dan and Jim to see what we can do.

Bathtub Falls
After leaving Bathtub Falls, Boomer and I reached the confluence of the creek in this prong with those in the other two prongs.  We rounded the bluffline and started up the center prong, immediately finding Falls #8.  This is a fairly tall waterfall, in the 28 to 32 foot range.  It has a large, jagged overhang, providing a good deal of shelter from the elements.  It also had something I have seen on quite a few of my hikes into remote hollows - indications that a large still had been set up here.  I found part of an old wood stove in the shelter area, presumably part of the still setup, now a reminder of the old prohibition days.

Falls #8
By this time, both Boomer and I were thoroughly wet from the constant drizzling rain, and temperatures were actually dropping as the day went on.  I decided to go up the east prong next, so we could get back up to the road a little easier when we did decide to call it a day.  Falls #9 was the first one we found in the east prong, as soon as we started heading upstream.  This is a beautiful waterfall, yet another with two major drops.  We had passed a break in the bluffline as we swung around into this prong, so we went back to it, climbed above the bluff, and proceeded upstream.  

Falls #9
Falls #10 was almost a quarter mile upstream, and as we picked our way through some very rugged terrain to it, I noted that there just was not a good way to get above this bluffline unless we backed almost all the way downstream.  Falls #11 spilled over the bluffline practically next to it, fed by a tributary creek.  

The wind had now picked up, howling through the trees and down the hollow.  The drizzle we had been enduring all day had now turned to a steady rain, and temperatures were still dropping.  When the rain began alternating with snow flurries, Boomer and I finally decided we had had enough.   We had to backtrack quite a way to get out of the grotto we were in anyway, so I decided to just climb the bluff at that point and head back toward the old logging road.  We got back to the logging road and followed it all the way back to Evans Mountain Road.  

Falls #10
If you ever decide to visit Bradley Creek, this logging road really is your ticket to getting to and from all three prongs on Bradley Creek.  It is very easy hiking, and traverses the tops of all three prongs.  Believe me, the hiking within the hollows is very difficult, so having the easy hike to and from them helps a lot.  This area is waterfall rich, and has several sizable and beautiful falls.  I highly recommend it, but only for experienced hikers that are used to the rigors of this kind of terrain.  

GPS Track - Bradley Creek