Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bear Creek

I woke up before dawn on a cold morning - it was about 36 degrees in the Fairview Campground. I'm not a fan of early mornings, or really being awake before noon on weekends, but I'll occasionally drag my lazy butt out of bed for pictures. The brain trust (made up of a bunch of photographers) had decided to head out at dawn and visit a nearby creek that features some amazing waterfalls.

The weather people had predicted that it was going to be sunny that day, so the plan was to hike to the creek before the sun was up high enough to cause any problems. Luckily, some uncontrollable shivering (along with some caffeine) helped get me alert enough to do some hiking.

The creek we planned on visiting is Bear Creek, located in the Ozark National Forest. There are several cool waterfalls along this creek, and the recent rains meant that we would catch them with some decent water flowing through. Bear Creek sits just south of Hwy. 123, near Pelsor. If you have driven to the Buzzard Roost hiking trail, you've actually driven right by this creek.

The trailhead to the creek was just a short drive away from our campsite. We parked along a dirt road and set off, again, into the woods. We passed by a small swamp, which is somewhat unique. You don't really see many swamps up in the Ozarks. Let alone a swamp that sits on the top of a mountain. We walked along the edge of the swamp, and started to bushwhack downhill.

It was steep, but it seemed a bit easier compared to the hike out of Mose Freeman Hollow the day before. Eventually we made it to the creek, right next to a pretty spectacular waterfall:

This is Sidewinder Falls, where Bear Creek zooms down and then makes a sharp turn. In the distance, partially obscured by a fallen tree, is Swamp Falls.

Another shot of Sidewinder Falls:

And a closer view of Swamp Falls. It was hard to get a good shot of these falls from the hill above the creek. There were lots of trees in the way...

We hiked further down, eventually making our way to the creek.

From here you had to cross Bear Creek in order to get to the next waterfall. The spot where I decided to cross was about knee-deep. The water was cold...

But it was worth having wet shoes. Bear Creek is almost literally a photographer's playground - in that there is an awesome slide here (please note that you can't actually slide down this waterfall, that would just be silly. However I have heard of people kayaking down it). A large boulder has fallen onto the creek, causing the creek to split into a V as it falls into a slot canyon.

This is V-Slot Falls, which must be one of the cooler waterfalls I've seen. The slot canyon curves around, and is probably somewhere around 10-15 feet deep.

After taking many pictures there, I packed up and waded back across the creek above the falls. We headed past Sidewinder Falls and went to another waterfall upstream. This is the view along the way:


And after a short hike, we found this other great waterfall (all of these falls were located along a fairly short section of the creek). This one wasn't named in the Tim Ernst guidebook, but we have taken to calling it the Little Punchbowl Falls.

And another view of the falls, which is a pretty neat little spot.

From there we started to make the long hike back up the hill. My legs, which were already sore from being asked to exercise the day before, were protesting whenever the hike reached a steep spot. But the pain was worth it - this really was one of the most prettiest places I've visited in Arkansas.

And sorry this is kinda short, and not filled with the typical wit and brilliance you find here (yeah right!). I've been half typing and half watching a soccer game tonight.


Don said...

Great photos. Lots of water. I haven't been to this spot, but I'm making plans for this weekend and I might try it.

Cormackphotos said...

Thanks Don, these shots were taken two weeks ago. It should me much greener up there now, and after all the storms, much more water too!