Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Victor Millsap Hollow and other interest areas, East Fork Illinois Bayou, north of Hector, Arkansas

6/8/2016 -  Victor Millsap Hollow Falls, Ozone CCC camp, Indian carving, Sawmill Falls, other waterfalls near the East Fork

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location (Victor Millsap Hollow):  35.61502   -92.83494
  Parking Location (Sawmill Falls):  35.59962   -92.83990
  Parking Location (Lost Corner CCC camp):  35.59300   -92.83431
  Victor Millsap Falls #1:  35.61610   -92.82765
  Victor Millsap Hollow Falls:  35.61610   -92.82166
  Victor Millsap Falls #3:  35.61801   -92.82567
  Victor Millsap Falls #4:  35.61784   -92.82580
  Sawmill Falls:  35.59932   -92.83872
  Lost Corner CCC Camp:  35.59306   -92.83429
Pet Friendly: Dogs off leash should be OK.  If your dog needs to be on a leash, it is doable but difficult because this is all bushwhack.

Motorcycle Friendly: No, not at all friendly to your big bike.  The various places we parked today are all many miles down dirt roads.

Hiking Statistics:  Our hike today through Victor Millsaps Hollow was right at 3.0 miles, with a lowest-to-highest elevation difference of just under 400 feet. If you just hike up to Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls and stick to hiking along the creek,  I would rate this as a medium bushwhack.  There are a couple of places you have to get through some brush, but for the most part, it is fairly open and easy hiking. We did a number of short hikes today in addition to Millsaps Hollow, adding on a couple-three more miles to the total for this morning.

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

Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls (24 ft) - with Rick
photo by Dan Frew
My friend and frequent hiking companion Dan Frew had been out yesterday poking around in Victor Millsaps Hollow and came across a couple of nice waterfalls.  One was particularly nice, so he made plans to come back to it today early enough to have the best sunlight for waterfall photography.  Dan was kind enough to let me tag along, and I was happy to get out to this creek that apparently still had good flow.  With the lack of recent rainfall, most creeks in the Ozarks were already starting to run dry.  The creeks in this area near the East Fork appear to have received heavier localized rainfall and were still in fine form.

You get to Victor Millsaps Hollow from White Oak Mountain Road (FR-1301).  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 (FR-1301).  Go 17.7 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 17.7 miles (just before it crosses the East Fork Illinois Bayou), turn right (north) on a Jeep road.  Go for about one mile on this Jeep road.  You will almost immediately cross the creek running out of Napier Hollow, then another small creek, and finally Victor Millsap Hollow Creek.  Park off the road near the creek.  

Sawmill Falls
You can also spend more time on blacktop if you don't mind crossing the East Fork.  We drove north out of Hector on Highway 27 for 15 miles and turned left onto White Oak Mountain Road (FR-1301).  Go four miles on FR-1301 and ford the East Fork of the Illinois Bayou.  About 100 yards after crossing the East Fork, turn left (north) onto a Jeep Road.  Go for about one mile on this Jeep road.  You will almost immediately cross the creek running out of Napier Hollow, then another small creek, and finally Victor Millsap Hollow Creek.  Park off the road near the creek.  Note that whichever way you get to the turn off White Oak Mountain Road, you should have a high clearance vehicle to take this Jeep road.  If your vehicle won't handle it, just park off FR-1301.  It's only an extra mile of hiking each way.

Unnamed Falls #1
We started hiking up Victor Millsap Hollow near the creek.  There are no trails, 
so this is all bushwhack.  It is, however, fairly easy as bushwhacks go.  You have to do some rock hopping and detouring around a downed tree here and there, but for the most part, it is easy hiking with a gentle slope.  There are two areas where you have to make your way through some dense brush, but those are just for a short distance.  About a half mile upstream, we found Falls #1, a nice multi-tiered waterfall in the 10 to 12 foot range.  It is larger than it looks in the photos.

Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls (24 ft)
About another half mile upstream we came to Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls, the one Dan found yesterday and vowed to come back to.  It is indeed a beautiful waterfall, with a surprising amount of flow for such a small creek.  We managed to make it to this waterfall almost before the end of that 'magic hour', when the sun is providing enough light for photography, but is not high enough to glare on the whitewater in the waterfall.  So our lighting wasn't perfect, but good enough in my book.  I'm in this more for the hiking than the photography, anyway.  This is a great looking waterfall in a really nice grotto.  To the left of the falls is a large overhanging shelter.

Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls (24 ft)
If all you do is the hike to Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls and back, I would rate this as an easy to moderately difficult bushwhack.  But of course, we couldn't leave without doing a little more exploring.  Leaving Victor Millsaps Hollow Falls, we climbed above the bluffline through a break on the right, and continued hiking upstream.  We continued hiking upstream until the slope flattened and the flow in the stream dwindled to the point that we felt no other large water features would be likely to be found upstream.  We found the remnants of an old logging road and followed it up on the bluff and around and into a small drainage to the north.  

Unnamed Falls #3
Unfortunately, we also found a lot more brush and brambles.  We did hear the sound of falling water and found Falls #3 and Falls #4 relativeley close together in this drainage that flows down into Victor Millsap Hollow.  After fighting our way through some very dense brush, we eventually made our way back down toward the main creek in Victor Millsap Hollow, where the hiking was much easier.   The hike to Victor Millsap Hollow Falls is only about a mile each way, and we added another mile of pretty rough bushwhacking on the way back.  While every waterfall is cool in its own right, I would not recommend the additional mileage and difficulty to see Falls #3 and Falls #4.  That juice is just not worth the squeeze.

Sawmill Falls
It was still fairly early in the morning when we got back to Dan's Jeep, so we decided to check out some other stuff in the East Fork area.  Going back out to White Oak Mountain Road, we turned left (south) on it and went 0.6 miles to the parking location for Sawmill Falls.  There are some concrete pilings here that supposedly supported a sawmill at one time, so Sawmill Falls seems like an appropriate name.  Dan remembered coming here in his younger days, "maybe 10 years ago, maybe a few more than that...".  There is an old trace road that goes past one of those old pilings near the road, then heads toward the nearby creek.  Sawmill Falls is only a few yards downstream, but there is a another waterfall upstream as well.  We bushwhacked upstream about 300 yards to it, but today I found it to not be 'photo-worthy'.  Hiking back downstream, we made our way back to Sawmill Falls, and descended to it through a break about 50 yards downstream.  Hiking back uphill to our old trace road and back to the Jeep, it is only a couple hundred yards from Sawmill Falls to where we parked.

Lost Corners CCC Camp
Continuing south on White Oak Mountain Road for another 0.9 miles, we turned left (east) on a Jeep road and went another 100 yards before parking.  This is the location of the Lost Corner CCC Camp.  Or the ruins of it, in any case.  If you pay attention, there is a sign nailed to a tree on White Oak Mountain Road identifying it as such.  The CCC camp so overgrown with brush, brambles, vines of all sorts, and other jungle-like growth that it is hard to distinquish ruins of individual buildings.  I would definitely advise waiting for 'leaves off' season before visiting this area, just so you can actually see things.  Oddly enough, there was a sign laying on the ground by the old powder storage room, under a layer of poison ivy and muscadine vines, stating that this was an 'American Heritage site' and you should take care to preserve it.  If only the Forest Service had followed their own advice and kept this from being completely taken over by the Arkansas Jungle.   I did, at least, uncover their sign just in case anyone else goes there this century.

Ancient Indian Carving
We stopped by one other place today for a hike out to a cliff that has an old (I mean verrry old) Indian carving etched into the rock face.  It's about a one mile hike, but other than saying it is actually inside the East Fork Wilderness Area itself, I'm not giving any directions.  Why not?  Well, to be honest and completely frank, I don't know you.  There are people out there that think nothing of defacing old artifacts like this with graffiti or worse, and I'm just not taking the chance that one of those idiots will go to this one and do the same.  It takes a special kind of butthead to go to a place of natural beauty or archeological significance, enjoy it for themselves, and then screw it up for the rest of humanity and future generations.  But they do exist.  After I wrote a blog post about one such site with a cool rock house that no one in modern times had heard of or seen, someone went there and put graffiti on the rocks.  So I will not be doing that for other old archeologically significant sites.  Enjoy the photo, but unless I have met you and know you personally I won't be taking you there.  I'm sorry that some idiots have screwed that up for you, but there it is.  If you are a regular blog reader, you know I am typcally not this grumpy, but this is one of those issues that trips my crazy trigger.
GPS Track - Victor Millsaps Hollow

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