Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Eldridge Hollow Waterfalls, Ozark Highlands Trail, Arkansas Ozarks (near Oark)

6/1/2015 - Eldridge Hollow - Tucked Away Falls, Eldridge Hollow Falls, Split Falls, Tall Falls, Beck's Falls, and many more waterfalls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking location: 35.75660, -93.55363, 2022 ft.
  Leave OHT for Tucked Away Falls: 35.75359, -93.55073, 1885 ft.
  Unnamed Falls #1: 35.75293, -93.55151, 1836 ft.
  Tucked Away Falls: 35.75264, -93.55148, 1803 ft.
  Tucked Away Falls - Access point: 35.75199, -93.55114, 1804 ft.
  Eldridge Hollow Falls:  35.75190, -93.54990, 1845 ft.
  Eldridge Hollow Fern Falls: 35.74988, -93.55056, 1829 ft.
  Unnamed Falls #3: 35.74392, -93.55548, 1843 ft.
  Split Falls: 35.74855, -93.55042, 1817 ft.
  Unnamed Falls #7: 35.74920, -93.55125, 1769 ft.
  Turn off OHT for Tall Falls:  35.75359, -93.55074, 1887 ft.  
  Unnamed Falls #4: 35.74165, -93.55525. 1780 ft.
  Unnamed Falls #5: 35.74165, -93.55525. 1780 ft.
  Beck's Falls: 35.74165, -93.55525. 1780 ft.
  Tall Falls: 35.74221, -93.55628, 1732 ft.
  Tall Falls - Access point: 35.74242, -93.55620, 1732 ft.
Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs off leash should be fine. You may encounter other hikers since this is mostly on the Ozark Highlands Trail.  If your dog is incompatible with other folks, leave it at home.

Motorcycle Friendly: No, not really.  The dirt roads are in relatively good shape, but are still dirt roads.  While you could take a heavy bike on this road, you wouldn't like it, and neither would your bike.

GPS files (.gpx format) - maps of GPS tracks are at the bottom of this post:
Eldridge Hollow Falls (upper tier)
Since the streams and rivers still seem to be flowing well from the recent rains, I decided to head out to another area that I had never documented before.  Eldridge Hollow was another of those valleys that seemed to be a good area for waterfalls, but other than some photos on Panoramio, I couldn't find anything in my research for the area.  Eldridge Hollow has the advantage of having the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) running right through it, making for very easy hiking.  On the OHT, Eldridge Hollow is between Lynn Hollow and Accord Hollow.  Both Lichen Falls (in Lynn Hollow) and Accord Hollow Falls are in Tim Ernst's excellent guidebook, Arkansas Waterfalls, but Eldridge Hollow is not.  So Boomer (our German Shepherd) and I loaded up and set out to do a little exploring.

Turn north off Highway 215 here
Getting there is pretty easy, it's just a little off the beaten path.  From Clarksville, take Highway 103 north, bear right at the intersection with Highway 215, and keep going into the small community of Oark.  If it's eating time, stop at the Oark General Store for a meal.  You won't find better food anywhere, especially burgers.  Keep going through Oark and 0.1 miles out of town, turn left on CR-5261 (old CR-34).  Go 4.5 miles and bear left onto CR-6220.  Go 1.7 miles and turn left into an old Jeep road.  Park in the clearing about 100 yards down this old road.  Pay attention to the road signs.  About a mile before the turn onto CR-6220, CR-6200 branches to the left; don't be confused and keep bearing right here to stay on CR-5261.  There is also a 'Y' about a quarter mile before the parking location; keep bearing left on the main road.

Parking Location
You can always park just off CR-6220 and hike the extra few yards if you have a passenger car, but I think most vehicles should be able to make it to the clearing.  I will confess to putting the explorer in 4WD before crossing a big mud hole where you enter the clearing.  I couldn't tell how deep it was; as it turns out, 2WD would have been fine, but you just never know if you can't see the bottom.  You probably missed it, but the old road crosses the OHT before getting to the parking location.  The OHT goes back into the clearing and continues out of it at the back left side (southeast corner).

Small waterfalls downstream of Tucked Away Falls
Boomer and I got moving and started our hike down the OHT.  Unfortunately, about a quarter mile later, I felt as if something were just not right.  Double checking everything, I had my phone, my GPS, water, camera...  D'oh!  Had the camera, but not the tripod.  The thought of spending all day trying to balance my phone on rocks and using the timer outweighed my laziness, so we headed back.  Sure enough, there was the tripod on the hood of the Explorer where I had left it.  All for the best, probably.  It's not like I couldn't use an extra half mile of hiking.

Unnamed Falls #5
Getting back on the OHT, we headed for the first waterfall I wanted to check out.  The Ozark Highlands Trail crisscrosses the slope at the head of Eldridge Hollow, going down about 100 feet in the first half-mile.  After that, it stays at about the same elevation through the valley, making for easy hiking.  The OHT has some ups and downs as it crosses minor drainages, but for the most part, the hiking is on the level.  Most of the waterfalls in Eldridge Hollow are right on the OHT, but this first one was not.  I have marked a location about a half mile from the parking location to turn off the OHT and go down to the main creek in the hollow.

Unnamed Falls #1 - with Boomer
Dropping off the OHT to the creek below, you come to a series of waterfalls in less than 100 yards.  I had marked a location for Tucked Away Falls and was headed for that.  On the way to it, we came across Unnamed Falls #1, a nice little waterfall with about a six-foot drop, and a bunch of cascades downstream.  From there, we continued downstream and soon came to the top of Tucked Away Falls.

Tucked Away Falls - from top
This was one of the few waterfalls in this hollow that I could even find a photo of.  John Moore (is there a square foot of Arkansas this guy has NOT photographed?) had posted a photo of this waterfall taken from the right bluff, where you could just see that a waterfall was there.  He had captioned the photo "Tucked away in Eldridge Hollow".  After going through some hiking gymnastics to get down to the base of the waterfall, I thought that would be perfectly fitting as a name; Tucked Away Falls.  

Tucked Away Falls
The bluffline below Tucked Away Falls on the right (facing downstream) did not appear to have any breaks for quite a way.  On the left side, I did find a bluffline break (GPS coordinates listed above) that was a steep, but doable, access down.  This access point is about a hundred yards downstream, and once you descend below the bluffline you still have to make your way back upstream. There is a lot of brush, downed trees, and a steep and rugged slope.  It's a struggle to get to the base of the waterfall, but we made it without sliding on our butts into the creek.  Tucked Away Falls itself is beautiful, worth the extra effort to get to it.  It has stair-steps at the top half, then falls off the angle of the 'stairs' on the way down.  This is one of the rare waterfalls that I like the shot from the top of the waterfall as much as from the base.

Unnamed Falls #2
From Tucked Away Falls, we continued on toward Eldridge Hollow Falls.  There are three small waterfalls downstream of Tucked Away Falls at (35.75164, -93.55137, 1766 ft.) that we dropped down to check out first.  They fall from four to eight feet, one after the other, with cascades in between.  Tucked Away Falls and the smaller waterfalls above and below it are the only ones in Eldridge Hollow on the main creek running through the hollow.  The rest of the waterfalls are on tributary creeks along the east side of the hollow.  It didn't occur to me until after I got home, but there are probably a few tributary creeks on the west side of Eldridge Hollow that sport a waterfall or two.  I'll have to do some major bushwhacking and check that out on a future trip.

Eldridge Hollow Falls - lower section
We hiked around the bluffline on our left and soon came to Unnamed Falls #2 and Eldridge Hollow Falls.  These waterfalls are very close to together, and although they don't fall into the same pool, you might call them twin falls.  Eldridge Hollow Falls is a waterfall with a distinct double tier so you might call this a 'twin double falls'?  Because the upper and lower drops of Eldridge Falls are perpendicular to each other, you can't see both drops from the same viewpoint.  Unnamed Falls #2 spills off the same bluffline as the upper drop of Eldridge Hollow Falls, but if you never drop down to the base of the lower drop you will never see it.  The sound is masked by Eldridge Hollow Falls, and you cannot see this one from the OHT.  

Eldridge Hollow Falls - upper section
The OHT is at the top of the slope to the right
You CAN see the upper drop of Eldridge Hollow Falls from the OHT.  The trail goes right along the top of the bluff leading to the waterfall, giving a very good view of the upper waterfall.  To see Unnamed Falls #2 and the lower waterfall of Eldridge Hollow Falls, you have to get to the base of the two waterfalls.  We hiked over from the main creek in the hollow, so we were already there.  To get to the base of the upper drop of Eldridge Hollow Falls, we went up an access between the lower drop and Unnamed Falls #2.  From the base of the upper waterfall, there is a steep but easily doable access up to the top of the bluffline.  In the photo above, you can see the route we took to the left of the upper waterfall.  

When you get to the top of the bluffline, the OHT is right under your feet.  Literally, it runs that close to the bluffline overlooking Eldridge Hollow Falls.  If you avoid the bushwhacking Boomer and I did, and just hike to it on the OHT, you can take the path we took up in reverse to access the base of the waterfalls.  We headed off down the OHT.  

Eldridge Fern Falls
We soon came to the next waterfall, and when I say "you can't miss it", I really mean it.  The Ozark Highlands Trail goes right across the base of the waterfall.  In fact, I took the photos standing on the OHT.  The small grotto for this waterfall has scads of large ferns all around it.  Now, a smart man would name this 'Fern Falls'.  A really smart man would know that there is already a Fern Falls south of Jasper.  So a smart, lazy, man would call this Eldridge Fern Falls.  Whether I'm smart and/or lazy is a matter of contention, but I'm not very original when coming up with names and this little beauty needed to be called something.

Split Falls
Continuing down the OHT, by the time you stop hearing the water at Eldridge Fern Falls, you start hearing the water crashing at Split Falls.  Split Falls is another one right on the Ozark Highlands Trail, with the OHT again cutting right in front of the base of the waterfall.  There is a huge rock on the flat shelf Split Falls spills from, splitting the flow into two parts and giving the waterfall its name.  From the pool below the waterfall, the creek is fairly steep and has a number of smaller waterfalls and cascades as it tumbles down the mountain.  We waited until our return hike to the Explorer to check it out, but Unnamed Falls #7 is about 150 yards downstream from Split Falls.

Beck's Falls
Until now, the waterfalls have been close enough together that there had not been a lot of hiking between stops.  At Split Falls, I checked the distance to Tall Falls on my GPS.  It said 0.56 miles, so with the winding of the trail and the short bushwhack at the end, I figured it would be a little under a mile to the next named waterfall.  The hiking goes pretty fast on the OHT, though, and along the way you pass OHT mile marker 67 and Unnamed Fall #3.  This little waterfall takes a lot of rain to get it going well, but has a huge undercut, making a good sized cave for such a small waterfall.  Just above this waterfall is a campsite.

Unnamed Falls #4
From Unnamed Falls #3, we continued down the OHT for about another 150 yards before leaving the trail on the right to hike down to Tall Falls.  We angled over to the creek well above Tall Falls first, where some really nice smaller waterfalls are.  The GPS coordinates for Unnamed Falls #4, Unnamed Falls #5, and Beck's Falls listed above are a point that is kind of a waterfall nexus between the three waterfalls.  Unnamed Falls #4 and #5 are in separate creeks a stone's throw from each other, and those two creeks combine and immediately flow over Beck's Falls, named for Beckham Tanev.  This forms the main creek for this drainage and is the one feeding Tall Falls.  Although smaller in height, these three are as picturesque as you will find anywhere.

Tall Falls
From the waterfall trio, Boomer and I hiked down to Tall Falls.  This is yet another of those Ozark waterfalls that are easy to get to the top, but not so easy to access the base.   There is a bluffline break on the right as you face downstream.  This is a very steep, but doable, access point.  Today it was also very slippery.  Once you get down to the creek level, you need to cross the creek.  The sides of the creek canyon are steep on both sides of the creek, but on the other side from the access point, it is a little more passable.  Once you get past the mouth of the Tall Falls grotto, it widens out considerably and you have plenty of relatively flat, open space.  I didn't measure it, but I think Tall Falls looks a lot taller than it actually is.  I'm estimating, but I suspect it is only in the 22-foot to 26-foot range if you actually measure the drop.  

Unnamed Falls #7
Leaving Tall Falls, we started our return trip.  If you look at the elevations on the GPS points listed at the top, this is about the steepest climb over the shortest distance of the entire hike.  You have to make your way up that very steep access point, then on up to the OHT.  It is a climb of about 150 feet over 200 yards, so really not that bad, and that was the worst climb of several miles of hiking today.  On the way back, we stopped at Split Falls to check out Unnamed Falls #7 and the numerous other small waterfalls and cascades downstream.  

The hike back was uneventful and went very quickly.  From Tall Falls back to the parking location is a little less than two miles, and with the hiking being mostly on the level, you can make pretty good time.  We wanted to make sure we had time to stop by Lynn Hollow after this.  Even with all the exploring and side trips we had made today, it was still just early afternoon, and we had been hiking in Eldridge Hollow less than five hours.  Totaling up all the track files, Boomer and I hiked a little over six miles in this hollow.  Well, six miles for me.  The way Boomer darts around, it is probably twice the mileage for him.  I would highly recommend this hike.  It isn't in 'the book', but maybe it should be.  It's a great way to spend a day in the wilderness.
GPS Tracks - Eldridge Hollow
Orange/Yellow - track from parking to visit all waterfalls
Blue - track along OHT only; note that the dashed red line is what the map shows for the OHT.  The blue line, sometimes overlaid by the orange, is the actual route of the OHT.


  1. Rick more often than not if I'm visiting a waterfall and you've been to it(like most of those I've visited) I check your blog for a more current/sometimes detailed route of travel than what I find in Tim Ernst's book. I just wanted to say that I enjoy the time and effort you put into it and it's been extremely beneficial for me.

    I just visited Eldridge Hollow Sunday and although I didn't hit every waterfall you marked it was a nice trek and pretty area. Also, great choice in that FJ you just picked up! I love mine.

    1. Thanks, Travis! Glad you can make use of the blog. We love the FJ, just couldn't find any in Arkansas for sale. We were starting to look at Wranglers and found this one on a road trip to Texas.