Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Haw Creek

After lunch at the Ozark Cafe (I had the chicken fried chicken sandwich, and it was awesome), we headed south towards home. But we had time to hit another waterfall, and decided to visit Haw Creek.


Haw Creek Falls are right by an Ozark National Forest campground, and to get there you do have to drive across the creek. It's a sort of low water bridge, and I hoped the creek would help to wash off some of the mud and dirt that had amassed on my car. We parked and made the very short walk to the falls, which actually had a good amount of water flowing through.


The falls are only 6 feet tall, but they stretch across the creek.



From there we headed back towards home, and got into Little Rock around 9 or so that night. It was a productive day for waterfalls. There has been a pretty bad drought here the past few years, and there hasn't been a very long waterfall season. So it was nice to be able to take a few pictures of this one, while it lasts.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Triple Falls

After hiking over four miles to get to Bowers Hollow Falls, we finally made it back to the car. The weather was still perfect for photos, and we wanted to find a few other waterfalls nearby to take pictures of. ButAnd since we had just finished one hike, it would be nice if the next hike was easy. So we decided to drive through Boxley Valley and then hit Triple Falls, which are all within the Buffalo National River.

Fog shrouded the tops of the hills that surround Boxley Valley. It is an amazing place, filled with old barns and homes that are over a century old.



We then headed out to Triple Falls, which is located in a Boy Scout camp along the river. The falls are one of the easiest waterfalls to hike to in the state (although the dirt road in can be a bit bumpy). It's a short stroll to the falls, which was ridiculously easy after Bowers Hollow that morning (and Indian Creek a few weeks back). The falls are about fifty feet tall.


This barn is along the dirt road to the falls, and looks like it's about to be engulfed by the overgrown field surrounding it.


Our next stop was Jasper, for another traditional visit to the Ozark Cafe. Over lunch, we tried to decide where to go next. It was time to start heading back towards Little Rock, but there were a few places that we could hit along the way...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bowers Hollow

So from Longpool, Zack and I headed north towards the Buffalo River. Our plan was to camp overnight, and then hike into Bowers Hollow in the morning. I had never been to this hollow before, and the conditions looked perfect (cloudy, after days of rain). After several miles of driving down bumpy dirt roads, we finally parked near the trailhead to the falls. But as soon as we parked, it started to rain. It would end up raining all night, stopping just before sunrise.

So we woke up and started the hike. It's about two miles to the falls, but the trail follows an old road trace so it's not too tough of a hike. Eventually you do have to leave the trail and bushwhack down the hill to the top of the falls. And then carefully make your way along the edge until you find a spot where you can safely drop down below the bluff. Because of the last bit of the hike around the falls, this is rated as a "difficult bushwhack." But it is well worth it.


It's an amazing area, and one of the prettiest waterfalls in the state.


Bowers Hollow Falls

The falls are 56 feet tall, and the creek was surrounded by blooming umbrella magnolia trees.


I took a lot of pictures out there...



We followed the creek for a ways, as it tumbled and flowed past huge boulders.




After that we headed back to the top of the bluff, and got one last view of the falls.

Bowers Hollow Falls

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Last weekend, Zack and I decided to head off to see some more waterfalls. It had rained earlier in the week, and it was predicted to be cloudy all day on Saturday. Perfect conditions! So we picked out some waterfalls that we wanted to visit, and left after work on Friday.

It took longer than I would have liked to leave town, thanks to the traffic jam along I-40 in Mayflower. But we eventually broke free and started to get closer to the Ozarks. We had time to hit a waterfall before it got dark, and decided to hit Longpool Falls. The falls are near the Longpool campground along Big Piney Creek, and can be reached by a short hike. I've been to the falls many times, and have only been lucky enough to catch it running just one time before. I hoped that the falls would be running that day, after all the recent rains.

The trail to the falls is short, but it does involve a scramble over some slick rocks. Luckily the falls were running well enough, and I hurried to get some pictures of the 44 foot tall falls.


There is a smaller waterfall downstream from the falls, which have a lot of personality.


It was starting to get dark, but we stayed out there until the light was just about gone. This was a 25 second exposure:


We hiked back to the car and started driving deeper into the Ozarks, towards the spot where we camp that night. It would rain overnight, creating a memorable waterfall day out in the woods....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Petit Jean

Petit Jean State Park is one the best state parks in Arkansas. There are some great trails there, including the one to the mighty Cedar Falls. It's a short drive from Little Rock, and well worth the visit. It had been awhile since I had visited Petit Jean, so I decided to head over there when I had some free time. This is the view from the Stout's Point Overlook, near Petit Jean's grave. It was mostly cloudy that day, and I hoped that the clouds would take over so it'd be easier for waterfall pictures.


I started out on the Cedar Creek trail, which runs for about 1.25 miles. The trail was actually constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps way back in the 1930s. It follows a small stream as it drops down the hill to Cedar Creek, then runs along the creek and then back up the hill. I stopped to get a few pictures, but the clouds were not cooperating. I sat and waited for awhile as clouds slowly drifted in front of the sun, granting a few minutes for some hasty pictures.


After finishing the Cedar Creek hike, I started on the trail to Cedar Falls. Luckily the canyon above Cedar Creek is tall enough that the creek was already in shadow. There is a lot of tree damage at Petit Jean, probably casualties from the ice and snow this winter. Several trees had fallen into the creek.


After hiking about a mile, the trail finally reaches Cedar Falls. It is an impressive sight, and one of the most powerful waterfalls in the state.


The falls are 95 feet tall, but the canyon walls surrounding the waterfall are probably twice that.


It's one of the most popular waterfalls in the state. There were a lot of families out there, with kids running and jumping on the rocks.


This is the view looking down Cedar Creek, as the light from the setting sun was catching the distant walls of the canyon.


Cedar Falls is the main attraction here, but the creek can be really scenic and interesting. Along the way back, the creek runs by a tall bluff line. This isn't along the trail, you have to wade through a sea of poison ivy to get to this spot.


The well-worn trail to Cedar Falls...


While hiking back, I looked over to the creek and saw a crane standing in the water just above a small cascade. I rushed to get the camera ready, while trying to not make any sudden movements that would scare it away. I managed to get one picture before the crane moved, and then flew away.


The trail ends back at the lodge, as you make the long slog back up the hill. The trail switchbacks and can get quite steep, instantly reminding you of how out of shape you are. My legs, which had survived Indian Creek a few weeks before, were not happy with me.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I've fallen really behind in writing, so my apologies to the three people who ever read these posts! So the other weekend, I was driving back home after a quick road trip to Nashville. After crossing over the Mississippi River into Arkansas, I soon encountered the scourge of I-40: miles and miles of construction.

Around Brinkley, there was accident in the construction zone which backed up traffic for miles. Instead of sitting there and just staring at the bumper of the car in front of me, I decided to take a little detour onto Hwy. 70. Traffic was moving there at least, although it was fairly slow. But it went right by one of my favorite places to take photos in the state, the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area.

The sun was starting to set as I drove the dusty dirt road to Hickson Lake, which is lined with cypress and tupelo trees. The evening sun was streaming through the trees and reflected in the lake.


It was quiet and peaceful on the lake. Only one other person was out there, and he was off fishing in a boat on the opposite of the shore.


It was nearly dark when I left Dagmar, and luckily there wasn't any other traffic on the road when I stopped to get a few more pictures.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014


A few weeks ago, Caroline and I made a quick trip to Nashville for the weekend. She was attending a baby shower Saturday morning, which left me free to wander around taking pictures. So I did some research (by Googling "Waterfalls near Nashville") and found a few neat places that were fairly close by. The only problem was that the weather was predicted to be bright and sunny over the weekend. So in order to get a good shot of the waterfalls with the best light, I'd have to get there right around sunrise. Which meant leaving Nashville at a horribly early hour.

So at 4 A.M. I sleepily drove away from our friends house and headed east into the hills. The sky began to brighten with the upcoming sunrise, turning from a deep black to an inky blue. But I had timed it just right, I was going to be getting to the waterfall (Burgess Falls) right on time.

However, when I got to Burgess Falls State Park I realized the fatal flaw in my plan. The park was closed, and the road gated shut. In all of my diligent research on Google, I failed to see that the park opens at 8 AM. It was only 5:30, and the sun was about to rise. I didn't feel like sitting around for all that time only to get there when the falls were in direct sunlight. What to do?

There is another park nearby, with a huge waterfall there. It's about an hour away, and if I hurried there was a small chance I could get a few pictures there before the sun got too high. So I rushed towards Fall Creek Falls State Park, trying not to speed too fast down the winding country roads.

I got to the park and rushed to the overlook at Fall Creek Falls. The sun was rising, but hadn't yet reached the waterfall. The light was hitting the trees surrounding it, and the mist floating up from the falls.

Fall Creek Falls

At 256 feet tall, Fall Creek Falls is the highest free-flowing waterfall east of the Rockies. Which is another fact that I neglected to see when doing my waterfall research in the area. Whoops. The other waterfall here is the 250 foot Coon Creek Falls, which plunges into the same pool as Fall Creek Falls.


This is a great park, and it's filled with waterfalls. The sun was high enough now that the light was harsh, so I couldn't get too many pictures. This is the last shot I was able to get, of the creek flowing below a bluff.


I started to head back towards Nashville, but decided to make another stop at Burgess Falls State Park. The light would be rough, but after making the drive there I still wanted to see it. I got to the park and made the short hike to the falls, passing by several smaller falls before hitting Burgess Falls. At 130 feet, it's a massive waterfall.


I started heading back towards Nashville, passing by several old barns.


After making it back into Nashville, we were able to do some sightseeing. This is a view of downtown, from the Shelby Street Bridge over the Cumberland River.


I headed home on Sunday, and made a pitstop in Memphis. On the left is the Pyramid, which is said to be the 6th largest pyramid in the world (the other bigger pyramids are in Egypt, and Las Vegas). There wasn't time on this visit, but on the way through Memphis on Friday night we did stop at one of the very best burger joints around, Huey's.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Schoolhouse Falls

After getting a burger at the Ozark Cafe in Jasper, we drove back up to explore the Buffalo River again.  We drove down miles of dirt roads, eventually passing by this old barn near Erbie.


On the way home, we decided to try to squeeze in a few more waterfalls before it got dark. Luckily there are several waterfalls in the Ozarks. We ended up going to Schoolhouse Falls, which is one that I've been to before. But on the last visit, there wasn't any water in the falls. The falls are about thirty feet tall.


There were a lot of irises in bloom at the base of the falls...


It is a short hike to the falls and back. But the hike does involve trekking up a hill, which was just about the limit of what my legs could handle (after hiking into Indian Creek that morning). But it was a good way to end a great day out in the Ozarks.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Indian Creek

From Falling Water Falls, we drove up Hwy. 7 towards the Buffalo National River. Our plan that night was to camp at Kyle's Landing, one of the National Park Service campgrounds along the river. We weren't the only ones with that plan, since we forgot to take into account that this would be a wildly popular weekend for people to float the river. We got to Kyle's Landing and it was absolutely packed with people, cars and canoes. We managed to find a spot along the side of the road in the primitive camping area and set up our tents.

We didn't stay there for long. The alarm went off uncomfortably early, just before sunrise. The trail to Indian Creek starts out at Kyle's Landing, and we walked by the sleeping campers and began the hike. The first part of the hike is deceptively easy, but the trail is about 4.4 miles total and rated as a "difficult bushwhack." I was sore for a few days after this hike.

There is no official trail here, but it's such a popular place that there are a few unmaintained trails that run into the canyon. Most follow the creek, but a few ramble up the hill. The creek is the prettiest way to go. The canyon created by Indian Creek has been called the most rugged within the park.


Indian Creek is very similar to Lost Valley, another popular trail along the Buffalo River. Both of these creeks were actually old caverns, which collapsed long ago. You can still see evidence along the creek of smaller caves and subterranean passages. Indian Creek also tumbles through several small waterfalls and cascades.



We were surprised at the number of dogwood trees still in bloom in the Ozarks this year. The blooms usually don't hang around this late into Spring.


Along the way we passed this natural swimming pool, although it was a little empty that morning. This was right along the creek. If it looks a little dry, it's because this is one of the places where the creek flows underground.


The hike gets a bit more tricky as it continues up the canyon, but it also gets more and more scenic.



After two miles of hiking, we made it to Copperhead Falls. The delicate falls are 13 feet tall, and tumble down moss-covered layers of rock.


Zack and I were thrilled to see a dogwood tree in bloom, standing conveniently right above falls.


And one more shot from the falls. A tree had fallen and crashed into the pool below the falls. The tree will probably be here for awhile. There is another waterfall in the Ozarks (Pack Rat Falls) with a downed tree resting in the pool below the falls. It has been there for several decades, apparently being constantly soaked in water helps to preserve it.


We didn't see any Copperheads at the falls. And in fact, didn't actually see any snakes at all along this hike. From Copperhead Falls we made the short hike to the next waterfall, which was equally amazing. The creek pours out from the side of the canyon wall, creating two waterfalls. This is the upper section of the falls, where Indian Creek runs underground and exits through a small hole.



The creek next tumbles down a few boulders and then flows into an emerald pool surrounded by ferns.


And another shot of the lower section of the falls. The water here gets its bluish-green tint due to diluted particles of limestone in the water.


The trail to Indian Creek has been rated as a difficult hike. And apparently the National Park Service says that more injuries occur within the Indian Creek Canyon than any other area in the park. I was thinking about that when we decided to head on to the next scenic area on the trail. If you're brave, or foolish enough, you can hike to a part of the creek called "The Eye Of The Needle."

There used to be two ways to reach the Eye Of The Needle. The easiest (which does not sound easy at all), was to climb up through a cave that usually has a waterfall flowing out of it. It was mostly dry the day we were there, with just a bit of trickle flowing out. But to get there would mean climbing up about 30 feet up the side of the cliff. The cave is closed now, to protect the bat population that calls the cave home. This is a shot of the base of the waterfall, looking downstream.


So that leaves the second option. To get there involves climbing up a rope, scrambling up a very steep hillside and then crawling through a small cave. It was difficult and dangerous, and not highly recommended. I think my wife probably would not have approved if she saw what I was doing (sorry baby!). This is the view from the top of the canyon, Indian Creek is below.


So after all the effort and difficulty, we finally made it to the Eye Of The Needle. And of course, there wasn't any water flowing through it like we had hoped. It's still an amazing place. The creek has carved a hole through the canyon. During times of really high water, the creek will flow through the hole and create a waterfall. It was dry that day, since the creek was instead flowing underground.


For a sense of scale, try to spot Zack standing "Where's Waldo" style somewhere below the Eye.


After taking a few pictures at the Eye Of The Needle, we turned around and started to head back. The sun came out as we were leaving the waterfalls, which quickly put an end to our photography that morning. But we finished the hike, and happily drove into Jasper for lunch at the Ozark Cafe.