Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Boxley Valley

There is one spot that has been high on my Arkansas photo bucket list for several years - the old spring house in Boxley Valley when the waterfall is running beside it. I've taken several pictures here in the past, but I've never been lucky enough to be there when the waterfall has been running. You have to be there when the conditions are just right (like after a huge rain).

So a few weeks back, a huge storm system was predicted to move across the Ozarks. So I left work early, and headed up towards the Buffalo River with the hopes that the storm would dump enough rain to get the waterfalls flowing up in the hills. At first, things didn't really look too promising. There wasn't any rain falling for the first half of the drive, just some gray clouds off in the distance.

The rain finally hit when I was in Russellville, a sudden and drenching downpour that hit when I was getting gas before heading up Highway 7. It was one of the rains that old timers would call a "gulley-washer" or even a "toad strangler." I ended up getting soaked because the wind blew the heavy rain under the gas station awning. It was a lot of rain, but was it enough to get the water in Boxley going? I hoped I wasn't about to drive three hours only to find a dry waterfall.

After the rain, fog began to develop along the mountains. I stopped at one of the overlooks on Hwy. 7 and got a few pictures.


I continued north on Hwy. 7, and was getting slightly worried. The ditches and creeks along the road didn't have much water in them. But when I headed down the hill into Jasper, conditions drastically changed. The creeks in Jasper were overflowing, and the Little Buffalo River was flooded.

So it had definitely rained here. Every creek and stream was high and spilling over its banks and there were tons of waterfalls running down the sides of the mountains. The Buffalo River was high and muddy at the bridge in Boxley Valley, rushing well over the low-water bridge in Ponca. I eagerly headed over to the old spring house, and there was of course plenty of water there. Water was pouring down the hillside, and the ditch along the road was overflowing with water. I had to cross the ditch to reach the spring house, and I had planned ahead by bringing my waterproof hiking boots. But those don't do much good when the water is up to your calf. But the soaked shoes and socks were worth it to finally catch the spring house with the waterfall running beside it:


I haven't been able to find any information on the history of the spring house. It sits near the Boxley Mill (which was built in 1870) and a house that was built in 1940. I'm guessing that it was probably built sometime in the early 20th century, and it is pretty good shape considering the waterfall that is pounding the side of the old stone walls.


There was so much water that there were tons of huge waterfalls tumbling down the sides of the mountains that ring the valley. I stumbled up the hillside to get a few shots of this waterfall, which tumbled and fell in several different levels.


And another shot of the cascade below the falls. I've been here dozens of times but have never noticed this creek before. There were so many waterfalls and cascades tumbling down the hills that day.


The road through Boxley Valley is one of the most scenic drives in the state. There are tons of old historic buildings in the valley, including the old Boxley Baptist Church (which was built in 1899).


I drove over to Lost Valley, with the hopes of hiking the trail that passes by several beautiful waterfalls. But to start the trail, you have to cross Clark Creek and it was overflowing with some swift and muddy water. There was no way to safely cross (without being rushed downstream to the Buffalo River), so I just took some pictures along the road of the creek instead.



I stopped again at this old barn (which was built around 1915) with a small creek next to it. I had never noticed this creek before, but it was easy to spot that day since it was nearly filled with water.


And across the road from the barn was a field with a few elk trying to graze in a soaked and sodden field.


From there I headed over to Ponca and made the short drive to see the old covered bridge that sits just above a small waterfall. The bridge is on private property, and leads to a rental cabin. The bridge itself is old, but has had to be replaced several times when high water has washed it away.


From there I made the short drive over to the Steele Creek campground on the Buffalo River. The river was running high and muddy here, and there were several tall waterfalls going over Roark Bluff and emptying into the river.


This waterfall is probably about 100 feet tall, and you can only see it after a really heavy rain.


I headed over to the river to get a closer view of the waterfall. The muddy river was chocolatey brown, and I expected to see Augustus Gloop float by.


I had an umbrella and was trying my hardest to keep rain off the camera, but it was a losing battle since the lens would quickly get coated with rain drops. I took a few more pictures and then headed to the car, I wanted to get home to Little Rock in time to see Jonah before he went to bed (and to also change into some warm and dry clothes).

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