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


  1. There are some more falls south of there. One that we aptly named Pooh Falls. It may have been one you took as #4 falls. A friend slipped and fell off it. "Poohed" himself on way down.

    1. Ha! Sounds funny now, but probably not so funny for your friend at the time. Hope nothing was permanently damaged. I can see how easy that would be on some of these falls.

  2. There are some more falls south of there. One that we aptly named Pooh Falls. It may have been one you took as #4 falls. A friend slipped and fell off it. "Poohed" himself on way down.