Thursday, February 14, 2019

Road 299 Falls, Glory B Falls, and Eagle's Nest Falls, Madison WMA, near Forum, Arkansas

2/12/2019 Road 299 Falls, Glory B Falls, and Eagle's Nest Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Park - Road 299 Falls:  36.256421,-93.657374
  Road 299 Falls:  36.256707,-93.656746
  Park - Glory B Falls:  36.196011,-93.691862
  Glory B Falls:  36.196883,-93.690102
  Park - Eagle Nest Falls:  36.224055,-93.655668
  Leave the trail for Eagle's Nest Falls:  36.224607,-93.653464
  Eagles Nest Falls:  36.224100,-93.653200

Pet-Friendly:  Dogs should be okay off leash.  At Eagle's Nest Falls, be careful near the top of the falls and along the bluff around it.    

Hiking Statistics:  Road 299 Falls and Glory B Falls are literally right next to the road.  For Glory B Falls, you need to park about 0.1 miles down the road, but I'll not even count that as a hike.  Both are easy to access the top and bottom of the waterfalls.  Eagles Nest Falls is a little hiking, at least.  Today I hiked just under one mile, 0.95 miles to be exact, on the round-trip hike.  The minimum-to-maximum elevation difference was only 104 feet.  The hike to the bottom of the waterfall is a little tricky, but I would still rate it as an easy hike/bushwhack.

Links to blog posts for other nearby areas:
  Tea Kettle Falls and Reynolds Hollow Falls
Glory B Falls

After finishing my hike at Tea Kettle Falls, it was already 2:00pm, but I still had three waterfalls in the Madison Wildlife Management Area (WMA) that I wanted to make sure I hit today.  It's such a long drive up here for me, I intended to visit them all and get the best payload for my road time.  The other three waterfalls I wanted to visit were all that I call "drive-by roadside falls", and these three are the trifecta of drive-by waterfalls for the Madison WMA.  I'll discuss them in the order that I saw them today, but this order was primarily because I was closest to Road 299 Falls, but I wanted to save Eagle's Nest Falls for last and hoped that the sun would be low enough to put most of it in the shade.  Road 299 Falls and Eagle's Nest Falls are relatively close to each other so you might consider visiting them consecutively.  One note; I noticed my directions were a little different on some than what Tim Ernst has in his Arkansas Waterfalls guidebook.  I have learned from experience that Tim knows what he is talking about.  I think either route gets you there, but I highly recommend taking Tim's book with you also.  If you don't have the book, order it online and he will sign it for you.  You'll thank me later.

Road 299 Falls

Road 299 Falls
The roads throughout the Madison WMA are generally good, as much as gravel roads can be, but they wind all through this part of the WMA in a virtual maze that is hard to keep track of.  Your navigation unit or phone will probably know these roads since they are mostly Madison County maintained named roads, so plugging the GPS coordinates for the parking location in may just do the trick for you, but I would keep an eye on it.  To get to Road 299 Falls, start at the small community of Forum, north of Huntsville on Highway 23.
  • From the sharp turn on Highway 23 in the middle of Forum, go 3.5 miles north on Highway 23 and turn right onto CR-1235.  
  • Go 0.2 Miles on CR-1235 and bear right onto CR-1250.
  • Go 0.7 miles and bear right to stay on CR-1250.
  • Go an additional 1.6 miles on CR-1250 and bear left onto CR-1425
  • Go 2.5 miles on CR-1425 and turn right onto CR-299.  This junction is kind of a 3-way 'Y', and CR-299 is the far right road.
  • Go 0.6 miles on CR-299 and there is a small clearing on the left to park at.  This is the CR-299 Falls parking location.
Road 299 Falls
Road 299 Falls is just downstream a few yards from the parking spot.  There is a volunteer trail down to the top of the waterfall, but don't take that because you can't see much from that viewpoint.  Go to the back of the clearing on the right and there is another volunteer trail that goes a short distance around the top of the bluff on the right, then down to the base of Road 299 Falls.  This is a beautiful little (21 feet tall) waterfall, and the creek is that same small aggregate of limestone that you see throughout the Madison WMA, making the water crystal clear.  For this waterfall, navigating the maze of roads is the hard part.  The short hike down to the base of the waterfall is super short and very easy.  

Glory B Falls

Glory B Falls
I debated on whether I should just go knock out Eagle's Nest Falls, but in the end, decided to go ahead on over to Glory B Falls and save what I consider the best of the three for last when the harsh sun might be a little more favorable.  You can actually cut over to Glory B Falls from either of the other two, but I'll give directions as if you were going to this one directly.  I included a track for going from Glory B Falls to Eagle's Nest Falls in the links above.  To get to Glory B Falls, start once again from the small community of Forum. 
  • From the sharp turn on Highway 23 in the middle of Forum, go 1.4 miles north on Highway 23 and turn right onto CR-1230 (aka CR-407).  
  • Go 1.3 miles on CR-1230, and bear right to stay on CR-1230.
  • Go another 0.7 miles on CR-1230 and park at the big Madison WMA sign.
Glory B Falls
You actually drove right by Glory B Falls about a tenth of a mile before you parked at the WMA sign, but the road there is narrow and there really isn't any place to park without blocking the road.  From the parking location, hike back down the road for that tenth of a mile.  You can see the creek and hear Glory B Falls before you get to it.  There is an easy way down to the base of the waterfall just to the left.  This is the shortest of the waterfalls I visited today, at only 16 feet tall, and the sun was harshly brilliant and in just the wrong place to get a decent shot of the waterfall.  As it turns out, the photos I took here are some of my favorites from the day's hikes. 

Eagle's Nest Falls

Eagle's Nest Falls
Eagle's Nest Falls is located right below the parking area for the trail out to the King's River Overlook.  There are signs on turns, pointing to this overlook, and that will tell you that you are on the right track.  I actually went from Glory B Falls to Eagle's Nest Falls by cutting across on CR-1425, and I included a track for that in the links above and on the map below.  For a stand-alone approach to Eagle's Nest Falls, I'll start again from the small town of Forum:
  • From the sharp turn on Highway 23 in the middle of Forum, go 3.5 miles north on Highway 23 and turn right onto CR-1235.  
  • Go 0.2 Miles on CR-1235 and bear right onto CR-1250.  
  • Go 0.7 miles and bear right to stay on CR-1250.  
  • Go an additional 1.6 miles on CR-1250 and bear left onto CR-1425
  • Go 0.8 miles on CR-1425 and make two right turns to round an intersection onto CR-1230.
  • Go 1.0 miles on CR-1230 and bear right onto CR-1254.
  • Go 0.2 miles and turn left to stay on CR-1254.
  • Go an additional 0.5 miles on CR-1254 and turn left onto WMA-19 (aka Road 447-19).
  • Go down WMA-19 a quarter mile and turn to your right at the gate and sign, then park in the parking area there.  
Eagle's Nest Falls
I still consider this a roadside waterfall, it just takes a lot of different roads to finally get to it.  From the parking location, head down the old trace road behind the gate and sign you passed going into the parking area.  Follow this trail downhill, across a small creek, then back uphill slightly on the bluff above this creek.  You'll cross two more creeks and come to a spot where there is a small clearing on the left and a volunteer trail on the right.  To the left, there is a bluff at the end of the clearing with a small cave in the bottom.  The creek you just crossed used to spring from this cave.  That spring is now a few yards further downstream, leaving the small cave high and dry.  Go back down and cross the trail onto the volunteer trail; it winds down from the bluff to the top of Eagle's Nest Falls.  Like many waterfalls in the Ozarks, it is easy to get to the top, but you can't really see much of it from the top.

Eagle's Nest Falls
The top of this waterfall is somewhat unique.  You can see a shaft formed in the rock from a large slab that fell over the top of the waterfall at some point.  Most of the creek flows over the right side of the waterfall, but some flows down that shaft and comes out at an angle to the rest of the waterfall.  You can see this from the base of the falls when you are over near the right side of the shelter cave there.  To get to the base, go upstream a few yards and cross the creek.  There is a faint volunteer trail, but if you can't find it, just head across the creek and up to the base of the bluff above the creek there.  Follow along the base of the bluff downstream.  The trail goes under an old barb-wire fence, which is now pinned up for you.  As you come around the top of the grotto for Eagle's Nest Falls, there is a creek flowing over that upper bluff, making a small waterfall.  Where that creek flows down, you can follow it around the edge of the bluff and then follow the base of the bluff down to the base of Eagle's Nest Falls.

Eagle's Nest Falls
It was getting late, but I still had plenty of daylight to take some photos and look around.  This is simply one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have ever seen.  I have not seen any photos that really do it justice in the setting it is in.  You descend along the base of a soaring bluff to a waterfall with a gorgeous geometry, and behind you on the right side of the waterfall extends a very large shelter cave.  The cave is quite extensive for a shelter cave and looks like it was formed by the creek eons ago when the creek ran about 30 feet or so higher than it does now.  As the creek eroded a new channel on its way downstream to King's River, it dug a new channel and moved away from the cave.  I wandered around quite a bit, just taking in the scenery, then started back the way I had hiked down.  

Glory B Falls
It was just under a mile round trip, and the climb down to the bottom and back up to the parking area is only about 100 feet of elevation change, so it is a fairly easy hike.  Where you come down the creek around the edge of the bluff can be a little tricky, so watch your step there.  I would highly recommend all three of these waterfalls.  They are basically roadside waterfalls so you won't get much exercise, but you will get a whole lot of great waterfall chasing in a very short period of time.  I suppose you can always go up to Tea Kettle Falls to stretch your legs.  I would recommend these for anyone, but if you are a little unstable or have children with you, be very cautious along the top of the bluff at Eagle's Nest.  It is very steep and slippery near the edge of the bluff, and it is a long way down.  Be safe, and enjoy!
Road Tracks to Waterfalls in the Madison WMA
Red - Hiking Tracks
Orange - Tea Kettle Falls
Blue - Glory B Falls
Yellow - Road 299 Falls
Yellow/Green - Eagle's Nest Falls from Hwy 23
Green - Glory B Falls to Eagle's Nest Falls
Eagle's Nest Falls Hike GPS Track

Tea Kettle Falls and Reynolds Hollow Falls, Madison WMA, near Forum, Arkansas

2/12/2019 Tea Kettle Falls and Reynolds Hollow Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Turn off Hwy 23 to Tea Kettle:  36.258961,-93.745652
  Parking Location #1: 36.270317, -93.730672,  1250 ft.
  Parking Location #2:  36.284784, -93.720331, 1640 ft.
  Parking Location #3:  36.266577, -93.714468, 1275 ft.
  Tea Kettle Falls:  36.266300, -93.714900, 1236 ft
  Reynolds Hollow Falls:  36.267500, -93.721700,  1225 ft.
  Warm Springs Falls #1:  36.265352, -93.721253
  Warm Springs Falls #2:  36.265138, -93.719493
  Warm Springs Falls #3:  36.264962, -93.717340
  Warm Springs Falls #4:  36.265311, -93.717469
  Warm Springs Falls #5:  36.265742, -93.718491
  Warm Springs Falls #6:  36.267503, -93.721447

Pet-Friendly:  Dogs should be okay off leash.  If you make the climb from the top of the falls to the bottom or vice versa, your dog will not likely be able to make that climb on their own.  If your dog can't be trusted to stay until you return, I would leave it at home.  

Hiking Statistics:  On this first hike today, I logged right at 3.0 miles on the GPS.  It is just 1.2 miles from where you park to Tea Kettle Falls.  My total track time on this hike was 2:52 (hh: mm), and 54 minutes of that was actually "time moving".  The minimum-to-maximum elevation change was only 146 feet, and I imagine most of that was simply climbing the bluff to get above the top of the waterfall.  This hike is mostly on the level, with some minimal ups and downs along the trail.  I would rate this an easy hike.  

Links to blog posts for other nearby areas:
  Eagle's Nest Falls, Road 299 Falls, and Glory B Falls

Tea Kettle Falls (41 feet)
The Madison Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a pretty cool area to explore, with a lot of waterfalls, caves, and creeks with crystal clear waters.  Among all the waterfalls in the area, Tea Kettle is perhaps the coolest.  For that matter, it may be the coolest in the state of Arkansas, and that's saying a lot.  Over the millennia, the creek in this hollow eroded a hole down into the big bluff it spilled over.  At some point, a tiny fault or something let water flow sideways out to the face of the earth, and it eventually drilled a hole down and out the front of the bluff, somewhat like a tea kettle's spout, and thus the name.  The water goes down in the hole and squirts out the 'spout', flowing out onto the loose rock below with only the shallowest of pools.  When the stream really gets going, which is rare, the water flows over the top of the 'spout' as well, forming a unique double waterfall from the same point.  

The 'Spout' of Tea Kettle Falls
We had just had approximately four inches of rain at our house north of Dover, which was going to make for a lot of brownish water with all the runoff, so I thought I would let that clear up for a couple of days and head northwest, where they only got about an inch of rain the previous day and night.  Tea Kettle Falls is notorious for drying up quickly after a rain, so to catch it with good flow, you have to get out there right after a good rain.  The streams in this area seem to always have very clear, pure, water, even right after a good rain, which was another reason it was a good choice today.  Unfortunately, it is a drive of over two hours for me to just drive to the small community of Forum, near the Madison WMA, so I make very few trips up there.  Today, it seemed to be the right call and I headed that way.  Boomer (our German Shepherd) normally accompanies me when I'm hiking alone, but today I wanted to hit not only Tea Kettle and nearby Reynolds Hollow Falls, but also the other major waterfalls in the Madison WMA.  Since I would be driving about six hours today, I left Boomer at home with Bethany and took off solo.

Madison WMA sign when you turn onto Road 447-8
Getting there isn't too difficult, but it can be confusing.  You know how I usually say to just put the coordinates for the parking location in your navigation unit or phone, and let that do the work for you?  Well, maybe not this time.  Your navigation unit will probably not know this road is even a road.  So this time, I added the coordinates for where you turn off of Highway 23 in the list of GPS coordinates above.  Go there.  From where Highway 23 makes a sharp turn in Forum, Arkansas (also where CR-8840 intersects Highway 23), go 6.5 miles north on Highway 23 and turn left at this point.  This is road 447-8 (aka WMA-8), and there is a large Madison WMA sign that has just about every piece of information you can think of except for the road number.  Go 1.4 miles down road 447-8 and park at the clearing on the right.  There will be a sign on a tree that says no vehicles past this point.  This is parking location #1, the one I used today.  If you crossed Warm Springs Creek, you went too far.

Parking Location #1
Between Road 447-8 and Warm Springs Creek
You can also go further on this road an additional 1.5 miles to parking location#2.  Along the way you first cross over Warm Springs Creek, then when it runs into CR-410, bear right to get on CR-410.  After that, there is a WMA road on the right at 1.5 miles from parking location #1.  Turn onto that and there will be a gate at the top of that road.  The gate is parking location #2.  If it is open, you can drive down an additional 1.4 miles and park.  This is parking location #3, and the top of Tea Kettle Falls is just a few yards down the slope on the right.  If the gate at parking location #2 is closed, you can park there and hike down to the top of Tea Kettle Falls, but I see no point in that.  The WMA road down to parking location #3 is actually not too bad, but you should have a 4WD to attempt it.  It is easy hiking, but so is the trail from parking location #1, and it goes along Warm Springs Creek and is a slightly shorter hike.  Parking location #2 is about 400 feet higher than Tea Kettle, so you'll have a little climb on the way back up to parking location #2 as well.  It is still easy hiking, as I mentioned.  

Parking Location #3
Looking down at top of Tea Kettle Falls
If you do go down the road from parking location #2, once you get to the top of Tea Kettle Falls you still have to climb down the bluff to the base and back up.  If you hike from parking location #1, you may decide that kind of climb just isn't for you.  For me, if I'm limited on time as I was today, driving right to parking location #3 might be best.  But otherwise, I prefer hiking along the creek so I can see the other scenery and visit Reynolds Hollow Falls on the way back as well.  I thought the gate would be open in winter, so I drove up thinking I might get lucky.  I did not get lucky - it was closed, so I drove back down to parking location #1.  I did include a map below of the road routes (in orange) to parking location #1 and parking location #2, and I'll include those track files in links at the top of this post.

Warm Springs Creek
Always Crystal Clear
Back to where I parked today, at parking location #1 in the clearing on the south side of Warm Springs Creek, I started hiking downstream.  at the end of the clearing, you'll find an old road that you can hike down within sight of Warm Springs Creek.  It quickly becomes just a trail, but it gets enough foot and horse traffic to be a pretty good one.  At one point, the trail narrows considerably as it hugs a rock bluff on the right.  Just after this, a steel cable has been stretched across the trail and anchored into trees on each side.  I don't know why.  The only thing I can think of is maybe the WMA management is trying to prevent horses from using the trail at that point, where it hugs the rock bluff.  I saw signs elsewhere in this valley where horses had been, so I know they still frequent the trail.  On the way downstream along the creek, the trail gradually rises above creek level to the short bench just above the creek.   As it crosses small drainages, there are a number of small waterfalls as their streams flow over the edge of the bluff.  You'll cross one larger creek a little over the halfway point.  This is just downstream of Reynolds Hollow Falls.  

Inside-Out View of Tea Kettle Falls
I continued on down the trail, and at about the one-mile point from the parking area, dropped down toward the creek.  There is a small waterfall, Falls #3, where a side drainage pours over the creekside bluff, and another, Falls #4, just downstream on that drainage.   Falls #4 only has an initial drop of fewer than three feet but goes into a cascade that stretches out for about 50 feet downstream.  This is as good a place as any to head over to Warm Springs Creek and find a place to cross.  The bluff that Tea Kettle Falls flows over wraps around the mouth of Tea Kettle Hollow such that Warm Springs Creek flows right up next to it on the left bank.  That's why you can't just follow the creek between Reynolds Hollow and Tea Kettle Hollow.  I looked for and found some downed trees that I was able to cat-walk across and keep mostly dry.  I didn't get any water inside my boots, which is the important thing.  Once you cross over into the mouth of that hollow, Tea Kettle Falls is only a hundred yards or so upstream.  If it is flowing well, you should have been able to hear it by this time.

Tea Kettle Falls
As I described earlier, Tea Kettle Falls not only has a unique geometry, it is in a beautiful setting.  The grotto has high bluffs all around, pierced only by that jet of water coming out of the side of the bluff and forming the waterfall.  The area the waterfall falls in is all covered by that same small rock aggregate that I think is limestone.  In my part of the Ozarks, a waterfall like that would have created a good sized pool below it.  Here, it barely makes a dent in the rock floor of the grotto, and the water flows off just as clear as can be.  There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was very bright, so I knew the waterfall photos would not be as good as they would otherwise.  I didn't really care.  It is just such an awesome sight, I just wanted to pause and savor the scenery around me.  

View from the top of Tea Kettle Falls
I climbed to the top and did the best I could to snap a few photos there also, but my irrational fear of heights and the wet slippery rock up there kept me from fully enjoying that.  Check that; I think my fear of heights is completely rational.  Going from the top to the bottom of Tea Kettle Falls is not that difficult, it's just not something people like me like to do.  Off to the left of the waterfall, there is a bear crack where a big chunk of the bluff has broken away.  Around on the left side of that, you can climb up on rocks and make your way up to the top.  If there is a better, safer, way for us acrophobics, please let me know.  After enjoying the view from up there, I climbed back down and headed back.  I found my fallen tree (nature's bridge) and crossed over Warm Springs Creek. On the other side of the creekside bluff upstream I found another good place to cross back over to the north side of the creek.  

Reynolds Hollow Falls
There is also a volunteer trail on the north side of the creek, and there is enough traffic on it to keep it plainly visible.  Even if you are bushwhacking, there just isn't much undergrowth this time of year.   About halfway between Tea Kettle Falls and Reynolds Hollow Falls, you cross a small creek with a nice cascade on it, Falls #5.  If you look upstream, it appears as if the creek just appears at the base of a small bluff.  In fact, it does just that.  There is a spring coming out the bottom of the rock face there that the water gushes out of.  At least, today it was gushing.  Continuing on around and going up into Reynolds Hollow, I arrived at Reynolds Hollow Falls in no time.  It isn't a huge waterfall, but it's a beautiful one, and generally has about the same flow as Tea Kettle Falls, so if one is worth seeing, they both will be.  

This bluff is why you don't cross the creek
until you get to Tea Kettle Hollow
From Reynolds Hollow, I crossed back over Warm Springs Creek again.  The trail along the south side is fairly close to the creek, so it doesn't take much bushwhacking to make your way back up to it.  I made my way back along the trail to where I had parked the FJ Cruiser.  I had been a little too late starting out, having breakfast with my wife Bethany before starting my drive up.  I didn't get started hiking until 11:00am and it was almost 2:00pm but the time I got back to the FJ.  I still wanted to see the three waterfalls I call the "trifecta of drive-by waterfalls" in the Madison WMA, so I quickly loaded up and headed on down to the south section of the WMA.  This hike is fairly easy hiking, with a few ups and downs, but nothing all that strenuous.  I hiked three miles in total, but a lot of that was just me getting distracted and exploring new things.  It is only 2.4 miles round trip if you just go to Tea Kettle Falls and back.  I would rate this one an easy hike, and I would recommend it for everyone.
Red - GPS track for Tea Kettle Falls and Reynolds Hollow Falls
Orange - Road 447-8
Red - GPS track for Tea Kettle Falls and Reynolds Hollow Falls
Orange - Road 447-8 track from Highway 23

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Kirkwood Swimming Hole and Mill Creek Waterfalls, Ouachita National Forest near Havana, Arkansas

2/9/2019 Kirkwood Swimming Hole and Waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.051774,  -93.578222,  422 ft.
  Middle Kirkwood Falls:  35.046000,  -93.580700
  Lower Kirkwood Falls:  35.051700,  -93.578100
  Upper Kirkwood Falls:  35.044426,  -93.581866,  540 ft.

Pet-Friendly:  Dogs should be okay off leash.  In the summer, the lower waterfall and pool will sometimes have folks enjoying the swimming hole, so make sure your dog is well behaved around people.  

Hiking Statistics:  On today's hike, Boomer and I only logged 1.6 miles round trip.  Our minimum-to-maximum elevation change was only 142 feet.  Our total track time on this hike was 1:44 (hh:mm), and only 31 minutes of that was actual "time moving".  Over an hour was "time playing with the new camera".  I would rate this an easy hike.  Even if you bushwhack along the creek as we did, it's not difficult bushwhacking territory and still gets an easy rating.

GPS files (.gpx format) - See maps at the bottom of this blog post
  Kirkwood and Mill Creek waypoints
  Kirkwood Waterfalls GPS track
Links to blog posts for other nearby areas:
  Gum Creek Falls, Wildman Twin Falls, and Big Shoal Falls
  Clear Creek waterfalls and Hardy Falls

Lower Kirkwood Falls
Kirkwood Falls is well known to the locals in this area as the Kirkwood Swimming Hole, but let's face it, there just aren't that many locals around here.  The nearest town is Havana, Arkansas, several miles away, and there aren't a lot of locals there, either.  I guess you could say that about most of Arkansas outside of a handful of cities, and that is one of the things I love about living here.  We have a boatload of beautiful natural state scenery and not a whole lot of people to 'crowd it up'.  At one time, things were a lot busier around here.  Kirkwood Falls is named after the large timber company with that name, and this was once the site of the state's largest sawmill.  

Boomer doing what Magnificent Mountain Dogs do
Those boom days of the lumber industry are long gone, and today Boomer (the magnificent mountain dog) and I had the whole valley to ourselves.  I doubt that another vehicle even drove by on the road the entire time we were there.  I got a new camera yesterday, and I was looking for a quiet, short hike with some great scenery that was not too rough and rugged.  I wanted to be able to focus on (see what I did there?) experimenting with the new camera and seeing what it could do instead of wearing myself out on a hike.  Kirkwood Falls fits that bill nicely.  There are waterfalls here, some varied lighting with the way the sunlight glares on whitewater, and it was really easy hiking.  It's remote enough that I figured no one else would be around to distract me, and that was the case today.

Parking Location at Lower Kirkwood Falls
Getting there is not that difficult, but it will seem that way when I spell out the directions because there are a lot of twists and turns.  The easiest way, of course, is to plug the GPS coordinates (listed above) into your navigation unit or phone and let it do all the navigating for you.  If you can't do that, 

  • To make it as simple as possible, go to the small town of Havana first.
  • From the junction of highway 10 and Highway 309 (Main Street) in Havana, go west on Highway 10 for 1.1 miles and turn left (south) onto Walnut Grove Road (aka CR-27).  
  • Go 1.6 miles on Walnut Grove Road and bear right to stay on Walnut Grove Road.  
  • Go another 3.1 miles on Walnut Grove Road, going over the Petit Jean River bridge, and turn left (south) onto Jack Creek Road (aka CR-519).   After you turn onto Jack Creek Road, you go over a cattle guard and you think "Hey, I'm on some farmers driveway and now I'm driving through his pasture!"  Well, you are, but it is still CR-519, a county road, also.  
  • Go 0.8 miles on CR-519 and you go over another cattle guard.  
  • Right after you go over the second cattle guard, bear left to stay on CR-519.  You are now in the Ouachita National Forest.  
  • Go another 2.3 miles on CR-519 and turn left (north) onto CR-518.  
  • Go just 0.3 miles on CR-518 and turn left (north) onto a dirt road that will take you a few yards to the parking location.  This last turn is just before a nice, shiny, new bridge over Mill Creek.
Bridge over CR-518 and small waterfall
upstream of Lower Kirkwood Falls
So there you have it.  I told you it would sound complicated to go that 9.2 miles from downtown Havana to Kirkwood Falls, and it does sound that way, but it's easier than it seems.  Just remember to turn left when you go from one road to another.  When you bear right on Walnut Creek Road, you are staying on Walnut Creek Road.  If you find yourself back in the middle of Havana, it's because you forgot to stay on Walnut Creek Road and ended up making a big loop on Pumpkin Bridge Road.  Don't do that.

Upper Kirkwood Falls
So you made it to the parking location despite my confusing directions, and after you thank the Good Lord for getting you there in one piece, you look up and right there in front of you is Kirkwood Falls.  There are actually three waterfalls on this part of Mill Creek, and this one is Lower Kirkwood Falls, but I believe a lot of the locals just refer to it as the Kirkwood Swimming Hole or simply Kirkwood Falls.  I believe the big sawmill was built right next to this deep, beautiful pool.  From here, you'll be happy to know the directions are a lot easier;  you just go upstream.  If you go back along the short road you came in on, you will see a gated trail on the other side of CR-518.  That is an old trace road that takes you to Mill Creek just upstream of Middle Kirkwood Falls, then crosses the creek and goes upstream on the left side to Upper Kirkwood Falls.  That's really easy hiking if that's what you want. 

Middle Kirkwood Falls - with Boomer
Of course, Boomer and I are into easy hiking, but not at the expense of seeing the stuff we actually came out to see.   We just headed upstream along the creek, which is also easy.  Technically, it's bushwhacking since there is no trail, but it's mostly big pine forest, with little undergrowth or steep bluffs, so it's still easy.  This is a beautiful creek, and if you go on the old trace road, you'll miss that scenery.  There is a short waterfall just on the other side of the new bridge over Mill Creek on CR-518, and by the time I got my pack on and low-jack (InReach) turned on, Boomer was on the other side of it waiting for me to catch up.  It took just a few minutes to go the half mile or so upstream to Middle Kirkwood Falls, a relatively short but beautiful waterfall.

Upper Kirkwood Falls
Going upstream from Middle Kirkwood Falls, we crossed the old trace road and continued up the right side of Mill Creek.  I prefer the hike along the creek to the easier trek on the old road, but there was also the factor of high water in the creek today.  There were places I could cross the creek and probably keep my feet dry, but I saw no need to test that.  Upper Kirkwood Falls is less than a quarter mile upstream, and we reached it in no time.  There is a big bluff on the right side of the creek as we went upstream, but even with the relatively high water, we were able to hike up along the creek as we got close to the waterfall.  After snapping a few photos and trying a few things with the new camera, we crossed the creek and took a few more.  It was at this point that I went to put an ND filter on and realized I didn't have my filter pouch in the pack.  

Lower Kirkwood Falls and Swimming Hole
I took a few more shots with the CPL filter I had been experimenting with, and then we crossed back over the creek and retraced our steps.  I use the "lead' command with Boomer often, when I want him to find the best route, but today I told him "find" my filter pouch, and he put his nose to work as we went back downstream.  He found my filters right where the pouch had fallen out of the pack when I put it on at Middle Kirkwood Falls.  He sat there until I caught up with that "you owe me now" look on his face.  I suppose he is right about that, but it is a symbiotic relationship;  he gets free food and lodging for life, not to mention free medical benefits and lots of love.  But make no mistake about it, he pulls his weight and I'm happy to have him on these outings. Especially today, when he saved me the replacement cost of an expensive filter.  Good boy!

Jim's Swimming Pool
photo by Jim Fitsimones
Turning back downstream, we took the old road back to the parking location and took a few more photos around the pool.  I have not been swimming in this pool, but I can see how it would be a popular spot.  It's beautiful and has a waterfall flowing right into it.  My friend and frequent hiking partner Jim Fitsimones thought this was such a fantastic look for a swimming hole, he used it as a model for the swimming pool at his house near hot springs.  Working with a contractor friend, Jim used a photo he had taken here as the model for sculpted (fake) rocks forming Lower Kirkwood Falls around the end of his new pool.  Based on the flow I saw in Mill Creek today I think Jim needs to crank up the pumps on his pool, but they did a great job on recreating this scene with concrete.

Upper Kirkwood Falls
This was a short and easy hike, with not much effort, leaving me with plenty of time and energy to do a lot of field testing with my new camera.  So far, I'm extremely pleased with it.  I'm more of a hiker than a photographer, but I have some experience and plenty of friends that actually are photographers and who are good at their art.   I know that 90% to 95% of what you see in a photo is all the guy or gal behind the camera, and not the camera itself.  That being said, I'm working on my photography skills, and a camera like this makes it easy to be as good as I can be.  We sold all of the other camera systems we had accumulated over the years, keeping only this new Nikon  Z7, a Nikon D90, and all of our F-Mount lenses.  I'll let you know how it handles on future hikes.
GPS Track for Kirkwood Waterfalls

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Teapot Hollow waterfalls - concentrated polyfoss area along Big Piney Creek, Ozarks near Fort Douglas, Arkansas

1/23/2019 Teapot Hollow Waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  35.650609,-93.227392, 516 ft.
  Falls #1:  35.650994,-93.228957, 643 ft.
  Falls #2:  35.650936,-93.229155, 694 ft.
  Falls #3:  35.650936,-93.229155, 700 ft.
  Falls #4:  35.651036,-93.229333, 734 ft.
  Falls #5:  35.650951,-93.229745, 801 ft.
  Teapot Hollow Water Slide:  35.651158,-93.230291, 893 ft.
  Falls #6:  35.651176,-93.230782, 818 ft.
  Falls #7:  35.651289,-93.231207, 865 ft.
  Hourglass Falls:  35.651276,-93.231596, 936 ft.
  Falls #9:  35.651442,-93.232547, 1131 ft.
  Bluffline Break:  35.651853,-93.228863, 731 ft.

Pet-Friendly:  Dogs should be okay off leash.  This is a fairly rugged area, but each waterfall has access to the bluff above on one side or the other.  That access may be somewhat steep and slippery so some smaller dogs may struggle.

Hiking Statistics:  On today's hike, we logged one mile total round trip.  Distance-wise, it is certainly a short hike.  Over that half mile of the creek, however, there is a 625-foot minimum-to-maximum elevation gain.  Add to that the fact that you have to hike down steep bluff banks to access some waterfalls, and then climb back out.  Our total track time on this hike was 2:27 (hh:mm), but most of that was time taking photos and milling about various water features, which is not seen as "time moving".  Our moving time was only 16 minutes for this hike.  Despite the short distance, due to the ruggedness of the terrain and steep climb in, I would rate it as a moderate to difficult bushwhack.

GPS files (.gpx format) - See maps at the bottom of this blog post
  Teapot Hollow waypoints
  Teapot GPS track
Links to blog posts for other nearby areas:
  Pam's Grotto Falls 
  Haw Creek Falls and Highway 123 Falls
  Bear Creek waterfalls

Falls #1
First off, the hollow this hike takes you through is unnamed, just a small side drainage that flows directly into Big Piney Creek.  However, the good folks that read this blog gave me feedback long ago that discussing "Unnamed Falls #12 in an unnamed hollow"  was just not going to work because there are many "unnamed hollows" in the Ozarks, and they couldn't differentiate Falls #12 in one unnamed hollow from Falls #12 in the next unnamed hollow.  Ever since getting those comments, I have put a name on the hollows I write about, whether it is official or not.  Bethany, my wife, is much more creative than I am and therefore is my 'inventor of names' for waterfalls and hollows.  Bethany came up with the name Teapot Hollow after I described it as being short, but quite steep.  She had to explain this one to me; teapots are "short and stout", and they are also used to steep tea.  Get it?  <heavy sigh>.  Therefore, Teapot Hollow it is.  

Falls #5
Today, I was hiking with friend and frequent hiking partner Dan Frew.  Dan has now started a Vlog to use video to document the kind of stuff I write about in my blog.  You should check out his YouTube channel Adventures in Dan-Land.  We had already stopped by nearby Pam's Grotto, and this was our second hike of the day.  We had both been to this hollow, as well as the one directly across Big Piney Creek and the one right next to it on the south, but they all had very low flow at the time.  We had a pretty good rain last night, and on the drive out the creeks and waterfalls along Highway 123 were running well, so we had high hopes of catching this one with a good deal of water.  As it turned out, the recent rain had provided just the right amount of flow for the waterfalls here to look their best.  

Hourglass Falls
Everything is simple and easy for this one, including the driving directions.  Just pop the GPS coordinates for the parking location in your navigation system and go.  There is only one road to it.  
   (1) If you can't do that, from Hagerville, go north on Highway 123 for 15.3 miles and turn right on FR-1002 (aka CR-5861).  Go 2.5 miles down FR-1002 and park off the road at the end of the clearing here.  
   (2) If you are coming from the other direction, from Pelsor (Sand Gap), go south-west on Highway 123 for 11.3 miles, then turn left (south) on FR-1002.  Go 2.5 miles down FR-1002 and park off the road at the end of the clearing here. 
   Today, it was easy to see where we should park.  It was winter and therefore 'leaves off' season, and with the rain last night, the lowest waterfall was clearly visible from the road.  One note about this parking location;  everything on this hike is on public land.  That being said, the patches of flat, cleared, grassy land along Big Piney Creek is usually leased by the Forest Service to folks in the area for grazing or cutting hay.  You could drive across the field to be a little closer to the mouth of the hollow, but please just park there along the road.  A few extra yards on flat land won't kill you.

Falls #6
As simple as the driving directions are, the hiking directions are just as simple.  We hiked directly for the first waterfall, spent some time there taking photos, and climbed up around the grotto on the left, and there was Falls #2.  The base of Falls #2 was literally just a few feet from the top of Falls #1.  Likewise, the base of Falls #3 was only a few feet from the top of Falls #2.  I only gave numbers to the waterfalls that were large enough and/or otherwise 'photo-worthy'.  Those ten water features in this little hollow obviously were not all as close together as the first three.   In between the larger water features was a continuous parade of smaller waterfalls, water slides, and cascades, all very nice and all photogenic in their own way.  

Falls #9
The entire way up the hollow, you can see the next water feature from the previous one, so planning a good route from one to the next is fairly simple.  From the parking location to the highest waterfall is only a half mile hiking distance, including the random lateral movements in and out of the creek area.  The more passable route on the way up seemed to be along the left side.  The right side of the creek had the occasional sheer bluff that required crossing the creek or climbing higher on the bluff.  We paused at each of the photo-worthy waterfalls and spent quite a bit of the hike just taking photos.  Coming back down the hollow, we climbed up on the ridge of the bluff on the left side (as you face downstream), and hiked down well above the rock jumble along the creek.  I marked coordinates (listed above) for a bluffline break to come down through on the final steep bluff above Big Piney.  See the map below for that detail.

Falls #4
Make no mistake about it, this is a wet weather polyfoss.  I really don't know how much rain the area actually got.  We had received about an inch of rain the night before at our house north of Dover, and I saw about the same reported at Pelsor.  It could have been a lot more locally, but I doubt it was much more.  It looks like it doesn't take a whole lot to make it look good.  I think today, it had just the right amount of flow to make it look it's best.  At any rate, know that it will need some wet weather.  Since the drainage area for this hollow is not very large, it will go away pretty quickly after a good rain as well.  It's easy enough to get to and check out so I would recommend doing that after a rain.  If it doesn't look all that good on the lowest waterfall, you can go elsewhere and not waste any time.  This little hollow has a whole lot of beautiful scenery, a very large payload for very little effort.  If you can catch it on a wet day and don't mind a steep bushwhack, I would highly recommend this one. 
Falls #1

Falls #2

From the top of Falls #2
The top of Falls #1 is at the edge of the visible water
The parking location is at the right side of the clearing in the background
Big Piney Creek is immediately behind the clearing

Falls #3

Falls #4
Falls #5

Falls #6

Falls #6

Falls #7
Hourglass Falls

Falls #9

GPS Track - Teapot Hollow Polyfoss