Sunday, May 9, 2010

Twin Falls of Devil's Fork

That night saw some pretty heavy storms pass over our campsite, which was encased under a heavy bank of fog. The plan was to wake up before sunrise and then make the drive over to Richland Creek, where hopefully there would be some fog hovering above the creek. We ended up driving there and found no fog, and the sun breaking through the clouds. Richland Creek was running high and a bit muddy - the recent rains having done much to raise it overnight.

After debating some hiking options, a few of us decided to make the hike over to Twin Falls. It was somewhat risky, since there was a chance that we would hike there only to have the sun be out - which is not good for waterfall pictures. But we soldiered on, and made the drive over to the trailhead next to the old Hill Cemetery.

It was good that we had Zack's jeep, since we were able to make the rough and bumpy drive to the trailhead. The road there is not in good shape, and you really need a jeep or anything with 4 wheel drive to make it there. It'd be pretty foolish to drive a regular car down there (like I did a few years ago).

Twin Falls are located in the Richland Creek Wilderness Area in the Ozark National Forest. The hike to get to the falls and back is about six miles total. You have two options for exploring the beautiful landscape out there - take the high road which follows an old road trace that will take you near the falls. It's relatively easy, with just a few hills to travel over (that is, until you need to leave the road and head to the falls). Or you can take the low road, which is much more difficult. This involves a bushwhack over rocky and treacherous terrain along one of the creeks that makes Twin Falls. This is the path that I took on my previous visit to the falls. It's not easy at all.

We took the easier version. To take the way by the creek you should bushwhack down the hill to Big Devil's Fork after crossing this small creek, which has several little waterfalls.

After hiking about three miles, you need to veer off of the old road trace and make your way downhill. This is much easier said than done, since there are no trails through here and the hill is steep. We dropped down, just as it started to rain on us. Eventually, we made it to the falls, which were flowing quite nicely.
This was actually taken while taking shelter under the bluff to avoid some heavy rain.

Twin Falls is made up of two creeks - Long Devil's Fork and Big Devil's Fork. They both flow right next to each other and then shoot out over a 20-foot tall bluff. They meet up below the bluff and then flow into Richland Creek. It is perhaps one of the prettiest waterfalls in the state, and one of the most difficult to reach.

The left half of Twin Falls - on Long Devil's Fork:

And the other half - Big Devil's Fork:


And a shot of the Twin Falls again...

It began to get a dark, which seemed a bit eerie and ominous. It meant that a huge storm was going to hit soon, which meant that it would be best to find a dry spot as quickly as possible. I was trying to get pictures of the creek below the falls when it started to rain, and I got caught out in the deluge. I'm grateful that my camera bag is water-proof.

This was taken a few minutes before the storm hit:

We all took shelter again under the bluff next to the falls. We waited about twenty minutes for the rain to clear, and I was planning on getting a few more shots of the falls when the rain let up. But of course, as soon as it stopped raining, the sun came out. Sunlight is the nemesis of waterfall photography, so it kinda ruined things. Looking up, there were clear blue skies as the clouds drifted away. It looked like we were now done shooting out there.

So we started on the hike back to the car. This involved the difficult ascension of the steep hill - which is similar to climbing Pinnacle Mountain but without the benefit of such silly luxuries like a trail. The way up was rocky and steep, and tiring. But we all finally made it to the top, and eventually back to the trailhead. I was surprised that my legs weren't as sore as I thought they'd be...

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