Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Grey Squirrel Falls and Slick Rock Falls, Arkansas Ozarks north of Hector

4/4/2016 - Grey Squirrel Falls and Slick Rock Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.55400   -92.91440,  705 ft
  Slick Rock Falls:  35.55405   -92.91440,  699 ft
  Flying Squirrel Falls:  35.55288   -92.91229,  747 ft
  Grey Squirrel Falls:  35.55127   -92.91160,  842 ft

Pet-Friendly:  Dogs on or off leash should be Okay.  

Motorcycle Friendly:  No. No, no, no, no.  I'll just leave it at that.

Hiking Statistics:  This is one of those short and simple hikes where the real trick is just getting to the point at which you start to hike.  It is only a little over a quarter mile each way to Grey Squirrel Falls, with an elevation gain of fewer than 200 feet.  There are no trails, but I would rate this an easy bushwhack.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Maps of the GPS track are at the bottom of this post.
  Grey Squirrel Falls track - hike out
  Grey Squirrel Falls track - return hike

Grey Squirrel Falls
My hiking companion today, Dan Frew, and I had already finished a hike in rugged Wolf Den Hollow of over seven miles.  We didn't have time to go attack a hollow we had wanted to explore further upstream off Hurricane Creek, but we did have time to stop off at Grey Squirrel Falls.  So we packed up in the Cruiser again and headed west on Lindsey Moutain Motorway.

To get to our parking location, we went directly to Lindsey Mountain Motorway from Hector.  A word of caution here; going this route requires crossing the East Fork of the Illinois Bayou, a good sized river.  I'll give directions below where you won't have to ford the river.  Go north from Hector on Highway 27 for 6.5 miles and turn right directly onto Lindsey Mountain Motorway (aka FR-1311).  Go another 1.4 miles on Lindsey Mountain Motorway and turn left onto the dirt Jeep road (at 35.53927, -92.91429).   Go another 1.4 miles to the East Fork Illinois Bayou ford, and park.  There is a campsite here on the right as well.  

Grey Squirrel Falls
Be warned - about a half mile after you turn off the pavement from Highway 27, you will come to a wide ford across the Illinois Bayou, then after the road turns away from the Bayou you will cross another ford across Hurricane Creek.  This section of Lindsey Mountain Motorway is also very rough.  The Forest Service has been working on it, but there are some deep mud holes and some very rough road.  I would not take anything but a 4WD with good ground clearance on this route.  Know the limits of your vehicle.  ALSO, once you turn off Lindsey Mountain Motorway, the dirt Jeep road itself is a little rough, but the real danger is some of the mud holes on this road.  They can be deep enough to swallow your vehicle whole.  One spot, in particular, you will have to pick your way around a number of mudholes to find a safe route.  If you don't know the road, get out and check out each mud hole.  If you aren't sure, park and hoof it from there.

Slick Rock Falls
To get to our parking location on roads that do not require fording a river and a large creek, it is a little more roundabout of a route, but not a whole lot longer.    But be warned - see the warning about mud holes in the paragraph above.  You will still need a good 4WD or a horse for this parking location.  Drive north from Hector on Highway 27.  Less than a mile from the Big Piney Ranger station in Hector, you cross over Dare Creek.  Immediately after crossing Dare Creek, turn right onto White Oak Mountain Road (aka FR-1301).  Go 11.4 miles on White Oak Mountain Road.  At 7.2 miles from Highway 27 be careful to bear left where the road branches at the 'Y' in the road.  After following White Oak Mountain Road for 11.4 miles, turn left onto Lindsey Mountain Motorway.  Go 4.7 miles, then turn right onto a dirt road (at 35.53927, -92.91429).  Go another 1.4 miles to another Illinois Bayou ford, and park.  There is a campsite here where the Jeep road comes down to the river.  

Flying Squirrel Falls
Whew!  Fortunately, getting to the East Fork Illinois Bayou parking location is the hardest part of this trek.  Slick Rock Falls was our first stop in this area.  I could have driven out in the river and have been almost right at the top of it.  From the parking location by the bayou, turn downstream and go a few yards, and there it is.  Not a huge waterfall, but it is pretty slick.  Going from there to Grey Squirrel Falls is almost as easy, but will take at least a little hiking.  We headed upstream on the short bench above the Bayou and soon came to the drainage containing Grey Squirrel Falls.

We hiked first up to a smaller waterfall, one I refer to as Flying  Squirrel Falls.  The lower part of this drainage is very steep, and you have to enter it almost where it flows into the Illinois Bayou.  From there, we hiked upstream, very carefully.  The floor is solid rock, and can be very slick, so watch your step; you might go flying.  Flying Squirrel Falls is pretty cool in itself, but today the harsh sunlight made it almost impossible to shoot.

Grey Squirrel Falls
Backing out of the canyon with Flying Squirrel Falls and hiking upstream, we soon came to Grey Squirrel Falls.  This is a beautiful waterfall in a great setting.  I did the best I could, trying to find a way to photograph the waterfall in the bright sun.  My photos today were not that great, but it's an easy one to get to if you have a good 4WD, which I do.  I'll be back, bringing Bethany, my wife and the photographer in the family, with me.  I would highly recommend this hike.  It is very short and has a beautiful waterfall as a prize at the end.  But ONLY if you can get to the parking spot okay.
Red - Hiking Track to Grey Squirrel Falls
Brown - Driving Track from Lindsey Mountain Motorway to Parking

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