by Flip Putthoff
Speedy Razorbacks base runners can turn a double into a triple. Nature does it, too, when a steady rain soaks the hill country along the Buffalo National River.
At Twin Falls, one or two ribbons of water during dry times become three pouring cascades after sufficient rain. The waterfall’s triple flow plunges about 50 feet over the edge of a cliff between Ponca and Jasper, close to the flowing Buffalo.
“There’s even a fourth,” one waterfall wanderer yelled over the water’s roar during a visit. “Look over to the left. It’s small, but it’s right there.”
The occasion was an expedition to Twin Falls, organized in a hurry after 3 inches of rain fell in January over Northwest Arkansas and the Buffalo’s watershed.
Twin Falls is a wonder to see at the entrance to the Camp Orr Boy Scout camp, downstream from Kyles Landing access on the Buffalo River. The Buffalo itself is rated Class I or Class II whitewater at normal levels. The drive on the steep gravel road to Twin Falls might be a Class IV excursion.
For adventurous souls who complete the drive, a walk to the waterfall is flat and easy, less than one-quarter mile.
To reach Twin Falls, head east from Ponca on Arkansas 74, toward Jasper. Go through Low Gap and watch for signs pointing to Kyles Landing and Camp Orr. Turn left on to the gravel road.
It’s a level drive at first, but then starts down, down and down some more, twisting like a cork screw built for automobiles.
The family sedan might be an OK ride for this trip, but a high clearance pickup or SUV is better. Two-wheel drive is fine, but the uphill drive out could be a struggle if the road is wet and muddy.
During this January visit the road was well maintained, with no washboard stretches or washouts. Steep and curvy are the operative words for this, um, exciting drive.
The Buffalo River country comes alive with all sizes of waterfalls after ample rain. It’s easy to visit Twin Falls and other nearby waterfalls in a day.
Cascades near Twin Falls include Lost Valley, west of Ponca; Hideout Hollow near the Compton community northeast of Ponca, and Glory Hole waterfall about 16 miles south of Boxley on Arkansas 21.
Source: Staff report
At the bottom of the hill, the road crosses a creek on a concrete low-water bridge. Just across the bridge is a sign that points to Twin Falls. Camp Orr is farther down the road.
The best waterfall hikes are soon after a rain. That means a muddy trail. The quartet of cascade conquistadors slogged through the ooze along a clear stream that poured over round river rock and gravel. Seconds earlier, all this water had spilled over the cliff.
Explorers will hear Twin Falls long before they see it, if it’s running loud and full.
The ooh and aah moment comes when the trail breaks through the trees showing Twin Falls in all its grandeur. On this frosty morning, spray from the waterfall coated trees in sparkling ice. Sunshine created a glistening show on the branches.
A family from Springfield, Mo. joined the quartet to admire the waterfall, stream and frost in the trees. Camera shutters clicked. Cell phones captured video and amazing audio of the roaring cascades that make up Twin Falls.
Visitors normally see three cascades, not two, at Twin Falls after a rain. Why that name if it’s always a triple waterfall?
In his Arkansas Waterfalls guide book, author and photographer Tim Ernst has the answer.
“The name ‘twin’ comes from the fact that there are two water sources that feed the falls from above,” he writes. One is a creek and another a spring up on top of the waterfall.
In the book, Ernst calls the waterfall Triple Falls because three cascades are usually seen and because there are other Twin Falls around Arkansas.
Call the waterfall a twin or a triple. Either way, it’s a wondrous sight to see.