Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Graves Canyon

On Saturday morning, Matt and I headed out to do some hiking in the Ozark National Forest.  The destination that day was the ominously named Graves Canyon, which flows into Big Piney Creek north of Russellville.  Although we saw no graves there, the hike in and out of the canyon did a real killing on my legs.

The hike to the falls is listed as a difficult two mile bushwhack. But we cut down on the hike some, thanks to Matt's Xterra. Part of the hike follows an old jeep road that only 4-wheel drive vehicles can go on, but we had no trouble making it all the way down the road to the spot where Graves Creek meets the Big Piney. Along the way, we stopped at this little waterfall that was just off of the side of the road. It isn't the most impressive waterfall, but I liked the large cedar tree and the exposed roots sitting above the falls.


From there we drove back up the hill and started the hike. Like most places in the Ozarks, the neat stuff on Graves Creek can only be reached by hiking down a steep hill. Luckily the creek is extremely scenic, and worth the effort. Soon we were back at the creek, and ready to see some waterfalls. But of course, only after shooing away a copperhead snake that was perched right in the way where we were going.

This is the first waterfall of the day, which is probably about 20 feet tall. A nearby tree had fallen over, and the bottom of the falls is nearly covered by tree limbs. So I tried to get a shot that showed as little of the tree as possible...


Just downstream on the creek is the next waterfall, Forever Falls. The name isn't entirely accurate, since the falls don't really fall on forever. They're actually only 47 feet tall. But they do drop from a bluff into an emerald pool in the creek. The water in the Ozarks always has a bluish-green tint to it (thanks to dissolved particles of limestone in the water), but the creek here was a paler green.


Then the creek flows through a small canyon, with bluffs on each side rising up to about 30 feet. It's a really amazing area...


Along with having a neat color in the water, the creek was also crystal-clear...


Another few shots from further down the creek...




There are several waterfalls that flow down the hillside into Graves Creek. This one is one of two waterfalls called Graves Canyon Falls (the other is just upstream). This shot only shows the bottom portion of the falls, but it's actually about 35 feet tall.


After that, it was time to make the long hike up the hill to the car. It was steep, but I managed it without too much complaining to Matt. After getting back to the car, we headed out and explored some more of the dirt roads nearby. Along the nearby Indian Creek, we found this neat little spot and took a few pictures.


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