Saturday, April 2, 2016

Lilly Falls, Hidden Falls, and Ripple Slide Falls, Arkansas Ozarks near Falling Water Road.

4/3/2016 - Hidden Falls, Lilly Falls, Ripple Slide Falls, and others

GPS Coordinates: (Latitude, Longitude, Elevation)
  Parking:  35.77353  -92.93273,  1149 ft.
  Falls #1:  35.77646  -92.92977,  1409 ft.
  Lilly Falls:  35.77661  -92.92932,  1426 ft.
  Old trace road:  35.77599  -92.92851,  1510 ft.
  Falls #3:  35.77310  -92.92620,  1516 ft.
  Falls #4:  35.77287  -92.92807,  1450 ft.
  Hidden Falls:  35.77302  -92.92835,  1428 ft.
  Falls #5:  35.77295  -92.92857,  1422 ft.
  Ripple Slide Falls:  35.77596   -92.92919,  1420 ft.
  Bluffline Break:  35.77595   -92.92932,  1407 ft.

Pet Friendly:  Okay for dogs off leash, but there are a few spots that might be a little tough.  Dogs on a leash would be a nightmare due to the dense undergrowth in some areas.

Motorcycle Friendly:  No.  The road is definitely too rough.  You see horses on Falling Water Road often, but never a cruiser or street bike.

Hiking Statistics:  Hidden Falls is only a little over a quarter mile from the road and an elevation gain of about 280 feet.  Boomer and I ended up hiking 1.74 miles and an elevation gain of over 400 feet, with several big climbs.  The climb to the bench above Hidden Falls and Lilly Falls, as well as the descent back down, are very difficult bushwhacking conditions.  It is very steep, soft, and slippery.  Hiking from the road to the base of the waterfalls is a moderate bushwhack.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Topo map of GPS track is at bottom of post:
   Hidden Falls GPS track
    Falling Water Polyfoss Waypoints

Lilly Falls
I had not been back to Lilly Falls since I found it last July.  I don't know what possessed me then to embark on an exploration hike that I knew would be a tough bushwhack in the middle of July, but you can see the blog post for that hike here.  Today, I was actually just looking for an excuse to get out somewhere in the woods.  That being said, I did have a couple of objectives.  I wanted to see what this hollow was like in the winter (leaves off) season.  It was a veritable jungle when I hiked through it in summer.  I also wanted to try to find my tripod; I had lost it somewhere between Hidden Falls and Falling Water Road on my last visit.  Boomer (our German Shepherd) and I loaded up in the FJ Cruiser and headed for the Richland area.

Falls #1
Hidden Falls and Lilly Falls are among the many waterfalls in the Falling Water Creek polyfoss area.  There are a bunch of others in this area you can get details on from this Falling Water Creek blog entry.  To get there, go north on Hwy 7 to Pelsor (Sand Gap) and turn east on Hwy 16.  Go nine miles on Hwy 16 and turn left (north) on Upper Falling Water Road.  This is the first left after you pass through the little community of Ben Hur.  It has no road sign, but there is a big sign for the Falling Water Horse Camp.  Go down Falling Water Road, bearing left where roads merge from the right.  You will pass Falling Water Falls on the right, then at 5.3 miles go over the low water bridge.  About 1.6 miles after the bridge, you pass over the creek that Hidden Falls feeds.  There is an area to park right where the creek passes under the road.

Much cleaner ground after burn
Today, I reversed my course from the last visit.  I went directly from the parking location to Hidden Falls, trying as best I could to retrace my track.  Try as I might, I could not find my lost tripod.  The area had changed dramatically since last summer.  Sometime since last fall, either a forest fire or a controlled burn had swept through the entire area.  The burn did a good job of cleaning the forest floor of combustibles; virtually all the leaf cover was gone, and most of the smaller, older, fallen debris from trees.  However, it looked like a few more big trees had been brought down by storms.  Removing all the clutter from the ground did make hiking easier.

Hidden Falls
I'm afraid my waterfall photography from today's hike is all very sub-par.  The sun was extremely bright, and I was in the area smack in the middle of the day.  I had a hard time even finding a perspective such that the glare was not blinding.  Boomer and I made the hike up the creek to Hidden Falls without a lot of effort.  But the climb from the base of Hidden Falls up to the bench, where I knew the old trace road was, was a little tricky.  It is very steep here, and the underlying rock is a loose shale that crumbles and does not provide very good footing.

Ripple Slide Falls
Up on the bench trace road, the going was pretty easy.  The burn had removed all the little stuff and all we had to do was navigate around the big trunks from fallen trees.  I found a bluffline break to come down below the bluff at a small drainage between the ones containing Hidden Falls and Lilly Falls.  On my previous visit, I had skipped right over this, but Danny Hale had subsequently hiked up into this drainage and found a nice waterfall he named Ripple Slide Falls.  I marked the bluffline break and listed it above;  in this area, those can be hard to find.

Lilly Falls
Leaving Ripple Slide Falls, Boomer and I simply stuck to the base of the bluffline and followed it around to Lilly Falls.  Even though this should be the wettest time of the year here, the flow was much less than it had been last July, which is typically one of the driest parts of the year.  Lilly Falls was still pretty nice, but it is one of those waterfalls that definitely looks better with some green foliage.  Up in this part of the Ozarks, the redbuds are barely starting to bloom and trees are just starting to think about leaving out.

Small waterfall at junction of creeks
We headed back to the Cruiser, stopping just long enough to photograph the small (~5 foot) waterfall at the junction of the two prongs in this hollow.  The hike back was easy compared to getting up to and down from the bench.  If all you do is hike up the three creeks in this drainage to the waterfalls, then hike back down and up to the next, it will make for a little longer hike but much easier than going up that steep bluffline.  
GPS Track - Hidden Falls, Ripple Slide Falls, Lilly Falls

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