Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kings River Natural Area, Arkansas Ozarks near Boston

3/2/2016 -  Kings River Falls 

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.89422,  -93.58457,  1731 ft.
  Kings River Falls:  35.90186,  -93.57443,  1697 ft.
  Falls #1:  35.90184,  -93.57477,  1716 ft.
  Falls #2:  35.90178,  -93.57515,  1744 ft.
  Falls #3:  35.90200,  -93.57521,  1752 ft.
  Falls #4:  35.90233,  -93.57573,  1789 ft. 
  Falls #5:  35.90248,  -93.57601,  1802 ft.
  Falls #6:  35.90266,  -93.57613,  1809 ft.
Pet Friendly: Yes; dogs on or off leash should be fine.  

Motorcycle Friendly: Yes; there are good paved roads right to the visitor center, as well as parking locations for Mirror Lake and Blanchard Springs.

Hiking Statistics:  This is an easy hike, with a trail all the way to Kings River Falls.  It is just under a mile (4,958 feet by my GPS track) directly from the parking location to Kings River Falls.  The only elevation change is the natural slope of the river, and the trail runs right alongside the river.  We ended up logging right at three miles on the GPS trip meter with some detours to explore a side drainage.

Kings River Falls (10 ft.)
Super Tuesday was yesterday, so we were looking for a little relief from the political jibber-jabber.  Where to hike for a little mental relief?  We did get a little rain the night before last, but emphasis is on "a little", which is much less than we need to really get the creeks flowing after this long winter drought.  Kings River is, after all, a river.  It is much smaller than creeks like Big Piney Creek, but still generally has some decent flow and does have a waterfall right on it.  None of the other "rivers" around here can claim that.  It is also a great little area, with a nice drive through some magnificent country to get there.  My wife Bethany, our German Shepherd Boomer, and I loaded up in the FJ Cruiser and headed that way.

Unnamed Falls #4
To get there, go north of Clarksville on highway 21, and turn east on highway 16.  Go 16.3 miles down highway 16 to the small town of Boston.  At Boston, turn right (north) on CR-3175 (Madison County Road).  In 2.0 miles on CR-3175, keep right onto CR-3415.  Continue down CR-3415 for 2.3 miles and turn left on CR-3500.  After you turn onto CR-3500, in less than a quarter mile you will see a parking area on the right just before the bridge over Mitchell Branch.  Park here; there is an actual parking area established for visitors to the Kings River Natural Area.  

Parking location
As with most places in the Ozarks, there is more than one way to get there and we travelled a different way home.  Going in on CR-3175, the road seemed fairly rough and we actually had to maneuver around a cow in the road.  On highway 16, when you get to the little town of Red Star, you can turn north on CR-3605.  Go down CR-3605 for 1 mile and bear left onto CR-3500.  You can stay on CR-3500 for another 4.2 miles and arrive at the parking location.  This route was still barely what I call a 'one lane plus' road, but it was better maintained than the other route.  You should have no trouble taking either route in a normal vehicle, no 4WD is needed.  

One of several smaller waterfalls/cascades on Kings River
We crossed the bridge and easily found the trail right along Mitchell Branch.  If you keep Mitchell Branch to your right, it soon flows into Kings River and the trail continues along the west side of Kings River.  From the parking area, it is less than a mile to Kings River Falls.  That is, if you don't get distracted.  We detoured to check out some smaller waterfalls and cascades along Kings River, and some side drainages that just didn't have much flow today.  This is a relatively short hike, and while the trail is somewhat rocky and has areas that always seem to be under a couple of inches of water, it is flat and easy hiking.  The river itself had plenty of flow to make the main attraction look spectacular today.  

Unnamed Falls #4 - with Boomer
Just before you get to the top of Kings River Falls, look to your left, up the small creek that flows into the river.  Today, it had fairly decent flow, so I hiked up it to check out the waterfalls.  I like the big, tall, waterfalls with lots of flow just like everyone else.  But I'm a sucker for the small waterfalls I find along creeks in the Ozarks.  I have found literally hundreds of these unnamed waterfalls and never cease to be amazed at the beauty and tranquility they provide.  This was the only bushwhacking done on today's hike, but I just couldn't resist at least checking out the waterfalls I could see ahead.  

Unnamed Falls #5
This little creek has, at least, six unnamed waterfalls, one after another.  I don't doubt there is more higher in the drainage, but today we set out for a short family hike and I was trying not to make this an extended exploration expedition.  Above Unnamed Falls #6, it appeared that the creek leveled out for a distance, so I turned around and made my way back to the river.  If anyone knows of more significant waterfalls above these, please let me know and I'll be sure to check them out next time.

Unnamed Falls #2
After relaxing and enjoying the views back at Kings River Falls, we made our way back down the trail to where we had parked.  This was a great hike to just get away and enjoy some Natural State beauty.  Kings River is a popular area, since it is easily accessible by most vehicles and is an easy enough hike to take children along.  Today we had the whole area to ourselves, and there were no tracks since the rain two days ago.  This is highly recommended for anyone, even novice hikers.  
GPS Track - Kings River Falls

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