Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wye Hollow Waterfalls, Arkansas Ozarks south of Fort Douglas

11/29/2016 -Wye Hollow Waterfalls in the Wye North Hollow and Southeast Prong

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location #1 (w/o a good 4WD):  35.65845   -93.19830,  1732 ft.
  Parking Location #2 (Wye North Hollow):  35.66276   -93.21097,  1044 ft.
  Parking Location #3 (Southeast Prong):  35.65063   -93.21123,  1002 ft.
  Log Roll Falls (Falls #1):  35.66304   -93.20877,  1070 ft.
  Falls #2:  35.66305   -93.20837,  1085 ft.
  Falls #3:  35.66356   -93.20635,  1240 ft.
  Falls #4 and #5:  35.65020   -93.21172,  988 ft.

Pet Friendly:  Dogs off leash may be okay, but there are some areas they may have difficulty getting in and out of.  This is a difficult bushwhack.  If you think your dog needs to be on a leash, it will probably be okay, but you are in for a long day.  There is a lot of undergrowth and opportunity for entanglement.

Motorcycle Friendly:  Nope.  This is many miles on dirt roads, some of them not so good dirt roads.

Hiking Statistics:  We made three short hikes this afternoon, for a total of only approximately three miles.  We made several climbs in and out of hollows and waterfall grottos, but the highest-to-lowest elevation difference was only 240 feet.  It was still raining when we started out, so conditions were less than ideal.  Each of the three areas is the typical kind of bushwhack conditions in remote Ozark hollows, steep and rocky.  

GPS files (.gpx format) - Maps of the GPS track are at the bottom of this post.
  Wye North Hollow track
  Wye Hollow southeast prong track
  Wye North Hollow route to parking
  Wye Hollow southeast prong route to parking

Hole-in-the-Wall Falls
I was just hanging around the house getting a little lunch, and just enjoying the fact that we were finally getting some rain.  It has been such a prolonged drought, this was the answer to a waterfall chaser's dream.  By this time, however, it will take quite a bit of precipitation to get the groundwater restored and get the creeks back to some semblance of normal flow.  Then my friend and frequent hiking partner Dan Frew messaged me to see if I might want to get out for a little hike.  Normally, I hate hiking in the rain.  Today, it was so nice to see some water falling from the sky, I strapped my boots on and headed out to meet up with Dan and another hiking buddy, David Dedman, for a quick hike to Hole-in-the-Rock Falls.  

Log Roll Falls
Hole-in-the-Rock Falls is high on the side of Woods Mountain north of Hagerville.  It is a short bushwhack, but it's also on private land.  The property owners are okay with us hiking out to see it, but I'm not comfortable with giving out directions and coordinates to anything on private property.  At any rate, today there was not a lot of flow in this waterfall.  I think this area only got about a half inch of rain so it will take quite a bit more to get this one moving.  Hole-in-the-Rock Falls is a unique waterfall where the stream of water has eroded a hole in the shelf it used to run out over and now falls through the hole.  It is somewhat like The Glory Hole in nature, but with a much larger hole eroded out of the rock.  David had to head back home, but Dan and I still had a bit of the afternoon left and decided to check out another hollow on the way home that has been on my "go to when we finally get some rain" list.  That's a very big list now.

Falls #5
Before you try to Google "Wye Hollow", or try to find it on the topo maps, let me clue you in.  You won't find it because it doesn't exist, at least not by that name.  These two hollows are actually officially unnamed.  Dan had referred to this as the "hollow shaped like a Y" so often, we started calling it "that Y hollow", and it kind of stuck in my head that way.  My background in electronics many years ago made my head translate that as "Wye" instead of "Y", so when I sat down to actually write up a blog post, I decided to call it Wye Hollow instead of just another 'Unnamed Hollow'.  Too many Unnamed Hollows and Unnamed Falls in Unnamed Hollows gets very confusing when you try to discuss them.  So I'll refer to these two hollows collectively as Wye Hollow (the one that actually looks like a Y", and Wye North Hollow (you got it - the hollow to the north).  There are waterfalls in this area that are significant enough you need to be able to discuss the location by name.

Falls #2
Getting there is fairly straightforward, but does involve a bit of backcountry Forest Service roads.  To get there, from Dover, go north on Highway 7 for 28.7 miles to Pelsor/Sand Gap.  Turn left (west) on Highway 123 for 4.7 miles, then turn left (south) onto Meadows Knob Road (aka FR-1802, CR-5991, or Treat Road).  If you are coming from Hagerville, from the junction of Highways 164 and 123, go north for 22.6 miles, then turn right onto Meadows Knob Road.  Go 3.0 miles on Meadows Knob Road, then bear right to stay on Meadows Knob Road (still FR-1802).  Go another 2.3 miles and turn right (west) onto a local Jeep road.  You can go down this road as far as you feel comfortable to park but if you don't have a good 4WD vehicle with good ground clearance, you should just park here off Meadows Knob Road.  This is Parking Location #1.

Falls #4
The old Jeep road off Meadows Knob Road is more of an ATV trail than a Jeep road, but it is okay for vehicles like my FJ Cruiser, which we were in today.  Dan got out once to move a tree aside, but otherwise it was easily passable for the FJ.  Whether you drive it or hike it, this road is your key to moving around in Wye Hollow.  It goes down the spur and along the ridge between Wye Hollow and Wye North Hollow.  It then splits and goes north down into Wye North Hollow, or south across the prongs of Wye Hollow before dead ending in the southeast prong.  Today, we took the Jeep road down into Wye North Hollow and parked at Parking Location #2.  See the maps at the bottom of this post.
Falls #3 - with Dan Frew
From where we parked, it is only a couple hundred yards upstream to the first waterfall, Log Roll Falls.  Falls #2 is just upstream from that, and Falls #3 is another couple hundred yards further upstream.  All three waterfalls are nice, but Falls #3 is nice and tall; when scaled it, I estimated it to be about 37 feet tall.  There is another good sized waterfall upstream from Falls #3, but we chose not to hike up to it today.  There are towering blufflines on each side of Falls #3, and it is a chore to get up above that bluff.  We did not have a lot of the afternoon left and still wanted to check out the waterfalls in the southeast prong.  The waterfalls in Wye North Hollow were flowing, but not all that well.  As I mentioned earlier, it will take a lot more rain to get back to normal.

Falls #4 (foreground) and Falls #5
We headed back along the Jeep road, to where it had split, and took the other fork over toward the southeast prong.  You cross over a couple of the other drainages in Wye Hollow and eventually get over high in the southeast prong, where the Jeep road dead ends near the main creek in that prong.  From there, it is a very short hike down into the drainage to where two creeks flow together with a waterfall in each branch.  Wye Hollow Falls #4 and #5 are close enough together that I only listed one set of coordinates for them.  The Wye Hollow Twin Falls might be a good name for this pair.  They are each picturesque, but anytime you get two independent waterfalls together like this it is somewhat special.  

Falls #5
Getting to the base of Falls #4 and #5 is a little tricky.  We crossed the creek at the top of Falls #4 and took a narrow ledge from there down to the base of the bluff between the two waterfalls.  It is very slippery and you have to walk in the creek right at the top of Falls #4, so be careful if you take this route.  I'm sure that downstream there will be a bluffline break that would be safer.  There are also waterfalls upstream in each of these creeks, but we decided to save that for another day and get back out while we still had a little daylight.  

All three hikes we did this afternoon were short, and it even stopped raining for us early in the afternoon.  Wye Hollow is an area that I'll come back to for a lot more exploration.  Just the waterfalls I know of in the hollow make it worthwhile to spend all day here, and I'm sure there are more waiting to be discovered.  It is a rugged area, so except for the old Jeep road cutting across the hollow expect some challenging bushwhacking when you hike.  
Green - Jeep road crossing Wye Hollow and Wye North Hollow
Red - GPS tracks for today's hikes (see maps below)
Wye North Hollow GPS track today
Wye Hollow southeast prong GPS track today

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