Sunday, May 9, 2021

Compton Double Falls

The thousands of people who hike to Whitaker Point (or Hawksbill Crag) to enjoy the view may not realize that far below them, hidden away beneath the trees, is the spectacularly scenic Whitaker Creek. The stream, which runs through the Upper Buffalo Wilderness of the Ozark National Forest, has to rank as one of the prettiest in the Ozarks. There are several waterfalls along the creek, including the gorgeous Compton Double Falls.

It had just about stopped raining by the time Zack and I arrived at the muddy parking spot for the trailhead. When Tim Ernst published his waterfall guidebook, there was no trail to the falls and you had to take a "medium bushwhack" down to the creek. In the years since, a steady torrent of people have left behind a well-trod trail. It still isn't the easiest of hikes (especially if you've gotten even more out of shape during this era of quarantines and lock-downs like me) and it is pretty steep in places.

And it doesn't take long before you start seeing some waterfalls. The first is Amber Falls, which Tim Ernst named after his daughter. If you were going to choose a waterfall to name after your kid, this is a good one to pick.


The falls are 18 feet tall, and the rocks behind it were coated with a thick carpet of moss.


The tree here looks like it had just recently fallen into the pool by the falls. Hope there weren't any wayward hikers or photographers standing below when it decided to fall.




These two large trees presented a nice little frame for the falls...


And one last shot of Amber Falls....


Several smaller creeks flow into Whitaker Creek, and many of them have their own little waterfalls. We hiked by this unnamed waterfall and stopped for a quick picture.


We hiked along the creek, which was slow-going because there were so many neat little spots to stop and take pictures at.





This pretty little waterfall/cascade area was right above Compton Double Falls (meaning I had to be sure to be careful not to slip and fall into the creek here).



And then the view from the very top of Compton Double Falls, looking down into the pool below.


And then finally the view of Compton Double Falls from the base. The falls are 39 feet tall.


The falls are named after Dr. Neil Compton, the founder of the Ozark Society. He is also credited as being one of the most instrumental people in the effort to prevent two dams being built along the Buffalo River in the 1960s. If it weren't for Dr. Compton, there probably wouldn't be a Buffalo National River.



If you look closely you can see that the falls were actually a Triple Falls thanks to all the rain the night before.


And then the view from behind the falls...


From here, Whitaker Creek continues downstream past massive moss-covered rocks.


Also just downstream is another waterfall, along another creek that flows into Whitaker Creek. The falls are Owl Falls, and the hike to it from Compton Double was a real hoot.


Owl Falls are about 20 feet tall. It's amazing how many different types of waterfalls are along this short section of creek.




By then it was time to start hiking back, so we headed up the hill. It was again slow going since there were more little waterfalls along the way. The trail crossed the small creek just below these falls.


And one last shot, of a smaller unnamed waterfall. This one was about 10-15 feet tall and was also a double waterfall (we joked that it was like the kid-sized version of Compton Double).


No comments: