The patter of late-night rain on the roof brings dreams of waterfalls spilling across the Ozarks landscape.
Dawn may give the green light for a waterfall safari if enough rain soaks the back country. A wet-weather window of waterfall opportunity opened wide in late February when six to 10 inches of rain splashed down on the region. Five hikers packed into the car and hit the highway to drive along an avenue of waterfall wonder.
Kings Bluff worth a stop
Another waterfall worth seeing is Kings Bluff waterfall at Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area along Arkansas 16. Travelers to Forest Road 1205 go right by the area.
The waterfall is reached by hiking from the trailhead one mile along the Kings Bluff loop. The waterfall plunges about 80 feet from the lip of a bluff. Like all Ozarks waterfalls, it’s best visited after significant rain.
Source: Staff report
Forest Road 1205 in Pope County might better be named Waterfall Way with so many waterfalls to see right next to the road. Some are close enough to view without getting out of the car. Others are reached with a short walk.
This isolated route in the Ozark National Forest runs beside Falling Water Creek for about 9.5 miles. It’s reached by traveling Arkansas 21 south of Jasper to the Pelsor community. At Pelsor, take Arkansas 16 east for about nine miles to the village of Ben Hur. Drive east another mile and look for Forest Road 1205 on the left.
On this visit, the road wasn’t marked with a sign, but it’s a wide gravel road that’s easy to notice.
So much rain had fallen that one of the group contacted the Ozark National Forest Office in Jasper to see if there were any flood issues along the road. None that they knew about. Forest Road 1205 is well-maintained and suitable for passenger cars most of the time. But, with so much rain, the group traveled in a four-wheel-drive sport utility rig.
The morning drive was drizzly with thick fog. Wipers slapped the moisture away as the forest road guided the group downhill to Falling Water Creek flowing loud and bank-full. This was uncharted territory for everyone in the group, so excitement ran high.
That was obvious when magnificent Falling Water Falls came into view on the right in 2.5 miles down the road. The waterfall is mere feet from the roadside. Car doors flew open, and hikers poured out like the SUV was a cartoon clown car.
Falling Water Fall was so loud one had to yell to be heard. The waterfall is about a 10-footer and stunning to see across the entire width of the creek. The roar confirmed they’d picked the prime time for a cascades quest.
It’s an easy stroll to the top of the waterfall or scramble down a few yards to see the base of Falling Water Falls.
The group was following directions in the book, Arkansas Nature Lover’s Guidebook by Tim Ernst. The guide gives descriptions and directions to waterfalls, trails, scenic drives and more. His guidebooks and photo books grace the shelves of outdoors fans across the land.
Next stop was Six Finger Falls six miles north of Falling Water Falls. This waterfall gem is a little ways into the woods, but the start of a trail is easy to see on the left side of the road.
The clown-car hikers piled out again for a 50-yard downhill walk to a most unusual waterfall.
Here water crashes over sets of stair-step ledges shaped as semi-circles. The heavy flow at Six Finger Falls swirled around a car-sized boulder to become a froth of rollicking white-water rapids.
It’s easy hiking up and down the shoreline to explore all around this wet wonder of the Ozarks.
Ernst’s book notes there are more waterfalls to see by crossing Falling Water Creek and bushwacking up some of the side streams. Crossing the creek at this high water level was impossible. Hiking up any side creek along Forest Road 1205 and waterfalls likely await.
That is, after significant rain. There are cascades all across the Arkansas Ozarks, but the window of opportunity to see them is short. Best to explore shortly after a big rain.
Three, four or more inches of rain turns on the green light for a waterfall safari.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 03/27/2018