Monday, February 16, 2009

Kings River Falls

On Friday the 13th (scary!), I made the long drive over to Kings River Falls, located out in the middle of nowhere (or in Madison County, up in the Ozarks). To get there you drive up Hwy. 23 from Ozark, then go east on Hwy. 16 for a bit. You get to pass through the town of Boston (which comprises of about 5 buildings), before turning off onto a few miles of dirt roads. This was one of the old buildings along the way to the falls.
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To reach the falls, I was using a very well-written guidebook that provides mileage details and specific instructions. The book has been an important tool for finding waterfalls, unless of course you don't read it right and go off in the wrong direction.

Which I did. Instead of turning left towards the waterfall I turned to the right. Bizarrely, the directions would match up perfectly with the area I was driving into, even if it was going the wrong way. For example, the directions said to cross over a bridge, then turn right onto a small road that looks like a driveway. I ended up crossing over a bridge and then saw a small driveway-like road. The directions then said to follow this short road until it ends at a small parking area next to an old barn and farmhouse. The road I was on actually did end up at a small parking area, next to some sort of old barn or shed. Thinking I was at the right place, I got the camera stuff out and looked to find the trail. How weird, I thought, that there wasn't a sign or anything. I walked around a bit trying to find the trailhead, wandering back and forth along a large creek. There was some sort of trail that started out across the creek, so I crossed it just in case it was where I was supposed to go. Nope, it was some sort of 4-wheeler trail that ended up running right into another creek. "Now this isn't right," I thought to myself, "where the heck am I?" I went back to the car and passed by some sort of computer equipment or electrical hardware lying on the ground. I looked closer and saw that it was covered with bullet holes. "This isn't good..." I thought again to myself. I hurried back to my car, looking closer at the old shed along the way. There were a few empty beer cans scattered along the ground, along with a few spent shotgun shells.

Apparently I had unwittingly stumbled onto some sort of scary redneck/hillbilly hangout (not to be stereotypical, but there was an actual outhouse near the old shed - I didn't take a closer look at that). Luckily there wasn't anyone else there, and I drove away as fast as I could. Back on the road I saw where I got lost, and amazingly the trailhead to the waterfall was just about two minutes away. I found the parking area - with nice signs pointing out that it was the trailhead for the Kings River Falls Natural Area - and started on the hike.

The trail to the falls is about 1.5 miles long, and it runs alongside a field that is overlooked by the old barn and a quaint old farmhouse. The trail soon curves around to meet Kings River, running alongside the river. Along part of the trail is an old rock wall. The guidebook said the rocks were cleared from the field and stacked here over 100 years ago.
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I was happy to see a lot of water at Kings River. There were several spots with some cool little rapids and waterfalls that I stopped at along the way.




And then finally, the trail reaches the big waterfall along the river:

The waterfall is only about 10 feet tall, but it makes for an impressive sight. The natural beauty of it made me easily forget the trouble it took to get there. I scrambled around and took a ton of pictures of the falls, so forgive me for posting a bunch of them here:





Another small stream flows into Kings River just above the falls. There were several small waterfalls and cascades on the creek as it made its way down to the river. Having felt that I had taken enough pictures of Kings River Falls, I went up and explored that area a bit more.


Following the creek a bit further up, there were even more little waterfalls. It was a nice and scenic little area.

The way up there pretty much stopped at this little waterfall. If I tried I probably could have found a way up farther, but instead I ended the trip with this little waterfall that fell in an emerald and mossy pool.

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