Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sand Cave Hollow Waterfalls, Blue Hole Special Interest Area, Ozarks north of Hector, Arkansas

5/18/2016 - Sand Cave Falls and other new waterfalls in Sand Cave Hollow

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location (Sand Cave):  35.54491   -92.90199,  1100 ft
  Parking Location (Waterfalls):  35.54849   -92.89378,  1279 ft
  Sand Cave:  35.54430,  -92.90148,  1059 ft
  Falls #1:  35.54135   -92.90110,  881 ft.
  Falls #2:  35.54208   -92.89472,  1032 ft.
  Sand Cave Falls:  35.54114   -92.89268,  1126 ft.
  Falls #4:  35.54131   -92.89254,  1142 ft.
  Sand Cave Quintuple Falls:  35.54121   -92.89229,  1202 ft.
  Falls #10:  35.54677   -92.89185,  1195 ft.

Pet-Friendly:  Dogs off leash should be okay.  Dogs on leash will make it difficult to access many of these areas, but could be done.

Motorcycle Friendly:  No. Parking is off Lindsey Mountain Motorway.  This is a not-so-good dirt road many miles down other dirt roads.  Not recommended for street bikes and cruisers.

Hiking Statistics:  From top to bottom, the Blue Hole SIA is about 1000 feet of elevation change.  Today, Jim, Dan, and I hiked 2.12 miles with a highest to lowest elevation change of fewer than 400 feet.  This was all bushwhacking, although there is an old trace road we could follow a short distance.  Overall I would call this a moderate bushwhack.  We were hiking for 1 hour and 37 minutes on the track at the bottom of this post.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Maps of the GPS track are at the bottom of this post.

Sand Cave Hollow Falls (today's hike)
When we visited Sand Cave Hollow back in March, we found a pretty spectacular area in the upper end of the hollow.  After almost giving up on finding anything, we found the beautiful waterfall we named Sand Cave Hollow Falls, then six more waterfalls above it, including five so close together I just called them Quintuple Falls as a group.  This was another of those areas we vowed to come back to, so we could see them after things "greened up" a bit, and hopefully with more water flowing in the creek.  We had received some rain at our house near Dover, so this looked like it could be that day.  My hiking companions today were Dan Frew, who had made the previous trip with me, and Jim Fitsimones, who had seen the photos and was eager to see the area himself.

Sand Cave Hollow Falls on March 31 hike
Photo by Dan Frew
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.  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 11.4 miles on White Oak Mountain Road.  Be careful 7.2 miles from Highway 27 and 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 3.3 miles and park on the left.  

One of the reasons I decided to write this blog was to keep track of my various explorations and learn from them.  Ideally, every time I go to an area I will find something that will help me the next time I visit the area.  This blog also helps me pass that information on to others.  On our first hike in Sand Cave Hollow,  I noted that the waterfalls that were worth the trek were all in the upper part of the hollow, and that we could get to that area directly from Lindsey Mountain Motorway fairly easily.  Today, we did exactly that.  We started out heading directly to Falls #10 and found it at the top of the north prong in Sand Hollow.  Unfortunately, the water flow in this one was somewhat lower than it was in March.  That did not bode well for the waterfalls on the rim of the other prong, but we headed toward them anyway.

Sand Cave Hollow Falls
On the way to the Sand Cave Quintuple Falls, we hiked a little higher, above the old trace road that runs along the top of the bluff in this hollow.  The bushwhack was a little more difficult than it had been in "leaves off" weather because there was a lot of very low ground cover obscuring the forest floor.  This was very low undergrowth and didn't pose much of a challenge for hiking through it.  We tracked a little higher, this time, to put us at about the right elevation for the upper tier of waterfalls at Quintuple Falls, and we soon came to it.  Both waterfalls on the upper tier had very little flow, as was the case for the three lower tier waterfalls.  None of these were "photo worthy" today, but I did make note of the fact that the spring foliage really obscured the view of these waterfalls.  To get a shot of all five waterfalls together, you need to come in winter or early spring.  I'll put that into my lessons learned for this particular area.

Despite the lower water flow in the creek, we remembered Sand Cave Hollow Falls as one of those waterfalls that seemed to have more flow than the creek had either upstream or downstream.  We dropped down the creek a short distance to it, and found the flow today greatly diminished, but it was still a nice looking waterfall.  After taking a few photos, we headed back to the parking location, this time following the old trace road along the rim of the bluffline.  We were a little disappointed at the relatively low water flow, but should have expected it.  This area is gripped in the driest spring that I can remember in the 25 years I have lived here. I will still be coming back to visit this place, but next time I'll wait for much wetter conditions AND "leaves off" season.  
Sand Cave Hollow GPS Track 5/18/2016

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