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


  1. Rick, I really appreciate your blog. The beautiful places you go are inspiring. Do you have any leads on waterfalls in the Missouri Ozarks? Or suggestions on finding some waterfall areas not yet in the public record?

    1. Sorry, I don't know of many in the Missouri part of the Ozarks. I am, however, always surprised at how often I meet folks from Missouri on some of my hikes.
      As far as finding waterfalls that are not currently known, I look at the topo maps. I have all the known ones marked from various sources. I look for hollows where there is fairly steep drops and a wide total area in the drainage. There are many areas of the Ozarks pretty much forgotten and bypassed in modern times. Here's a source of waterfall coordinates: