Sunday, May 21, 2017

Liles Falls, Ozarks near Jasper, Arkansas

5/21/2017 Jim Liles Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  36.05631   -93.19692, 960 ft.
  Liles Falls:  36.05713   -93.19548, 908 ft.
Pet Friendly:  They are decidedly unfriendly to dogs here.  This area is part of the Buffalo National River and is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.  Pets are not allowed on trails within the Buffalo National River, with the exception of the Mill Creek trail and the Buffalo Point campground trails.   Off trail, pets must be kept under "physical control" You can see the NPS policy here

Motorcycle Friendly: No, not at all friendly to your cruiser or street bike.  The trailhead is several miles down a rough dirt road.  It's do-able, but you won't like it and neither will your bike.

Hiking Statistics:  I hesitate to even call this a hike, it is so short.  One way, from the parking location to the bottom of Liles Falls, is 766 feet, so just under 0.3 miles round trip.  The maximum-to-minimum elevation difference was 112 feet.  The hike down to the bottom of the waterfall took Boomer and I a total of 6 minutes, 43 seconds, and we were not in any big hurry.  So I have to rate this one as a super easy bushwhack.

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

Liles Falls (41 ft) - with Rick and Boomer
Liles Falls is one of those elusive waterfalls that you see dazzling photos of, but when you go to check it out it has barely a dribble of water going over it.  It has been on my 'wet weather go-to' list for quite a while, and it just so happened we got a lot of rain in the Ozarks a couple of days ago.  The Jasper area didn't get quite the rain we did at our home north of Dover but got a fair amount.  I didn't have a lot of time today but figured with as short as the hike was, I could make the drive up there and hike in and out in plenty of time.  This waterfall is in Tim Ernst's great guidebook, Arkansas Waterfalls.  If you are reading this blog, presumably it is because you are interested in waterfall hiking in Arkansas.  If that is you, and you don't have a copy of Tim's book, get one.  You can thank me in the comments below.  Bethany wanted to clean house today, so Boomer (our German Shepherd) and I wanted to get out of the house.  We loaded up in the FJ and away we went.

Parking Location
The route we took today is what is called the Erbie Campground Road.  Going north on Highway 7, from where the highway makes a hard right turn in Jasper (onto Court St), continue north on Highway 7 for 3.3 miles and turn left (west) on NC-2500 (aka CR-79 or "Erbie Campground Road").  There is a sign saying Erbie Campground at the turn.  Go 3.5 miles on Erbie Campground Road and park in the pull-off space on the right.  This is in a bend of the road immediately after it crosses a small creek. 

The top of Liles Falls, not visible from the bottom
The top of Liles Falls is only about a couple hundred yards downstream on this creek.  If there is water flowing in the creek at the road, that's a good sign, and it was going well today.  A friend told me there is a faint trail on the right side of the creek, but I haven't seen it.  So, without a trail, this is technically a bushwhack, albeit a very short and easy one.  I hiked down the left side of the creek, simply because it seemed a little more open.  There is no undergrowth or thick vegetation to contend with, and you hike along the creek with very little slope.  This is the easiest bushwhack you will ever do.  The BRT (Buffalo River Trail) runs right across the top of Liles Falls, and there are a couple of short drops in the waterfall here at the very top that you can't see from the bottom.

Liles Falls
Of course, those two drops at the top are not what you came here to see, so you need to get to the base of the waterfall.  If you get on the BRT to the right (as you face downstream), you will see a volunteer trail branch off to the left immediately.  This trail will take you down the hillside to the creek at the base of Liles Falls.  It is a little steep but should be okay for hikers of all ages.  Liles Falls is a beautiful 41 foot tall stair-step type waterfall, and today Boomer and I had it all to ourselves.  I still find it hard to believe that on a sunny Sunday at mid-day, no one else in the world was out at a place this beautiful and so easy to get to.  But believe me, I'm not complaining. 

Liles Falls from downstream
On the hike out, you can go back up the trail the way you hiked down.  Boomer and I like to mix it up a little bit, so we hiked up the bluff on the right of the waterfall as you face it.  The slope is a little steep, like the trail was, but not too bad.  There is a bluffline break several yards from the waterfall you can ascend through, then simply hike back up the creek to the parking location.  This waterfall is named for Jim Liles, who was instrumental in building a lot of the trails in the Buffalo National River.  Ironically enough, there isn't a trail from the road to the waterfall named for him, but as I mentioned, the Buffalo River Trail goes right across the top of the waterfall.  I would highly recommend this hike for anyone and everyone, but wait to go after a decent rainfall when you can see it in all its glory.
GPS track to Liles Falls


  1. Excellent! I'll have to check it out someday. Thanks for the post.

  2. Beautiful photos! I love long walks in nature. Warm greetings from Montreal!

  3. Beautiful photos! I love long walks in nature. Warm greetings from Montreal!

    1. I was also born in 1956 Linda. You must be a cool person.

  4. Thanks for posting such a nice and beautiful blog.I like the pictures.

    Lombok hiking

  5. Hi fellas,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
    If someone want to read more about that hiking I think this is the right place for you!