June 4, 2015

Arkansas Road Trip, part2

The second part of the report from my recent adventure into Arkansas’ wilderness. I saw more spectacular waterfalls, had another breakage, hiked more trails, and had more fun.

(Click here for the first part)

My third day began in the middle of the peaceful Ozark National Forest.


Even with the trashed shoulder, this is still one of the best hotels you can get.

After breakfast, I took a short hike to the High Bank Twins waterfalls. Again, one has to have either a local friend who knows the area or do homework by preparing a map as I did. Otherwise, there would be no way I’d locate them as there was no sign, no marked trailhead, or anything that would hint to tourists passing by about the wonder in the woods. The trail was narrow, maintained, and easy to follow. On the way to the falls, I checked out a side creek, which offered some lovely scenery, and then I got back on the main trail, soon to be standing under this:

A pretty neat one, I have to admit.

Traveling further east to reach my afternoon plans, either I’d had to drive all the way through Clarksville or cut it via back roads to save a couple of miles and see a bit more from the forest than by keeping on paved highways. After the enormous success I had driving on Colorado’s back roads last year, I opted for the second version.


The roads I took were a bit slippery and quite steep at places, but nowhere as rough as some of those in Colorado.

Things went smoothly, and soon I parked close to the Haw Creek Falls Recreation Area. I couldn’t drive all the way in because the entrance was flooded. Not a big deal, just a short hike. From the site I went on one trail just to see how it looks around,

and then returned to the falls. The water was warm and clear, so for a second, I just enjoyed the sun, water, and the scenery in general.


Everything was great until a disaster occurred: I had my camera mounted on a tripod when suddenly the screw of the clamp that holds a camera on the tripod’s head broke. I wasn’t even touching it when it just snapped and released the camera into the water. I mean… One would think, “A metal tripod head, it will be with me until the end of days,” right? Unfortunately, not. An injury occurred yesterday, and another large-scale misery today. Seriously, when it rains, it pours. Although the day was still sunny, my mind was bleak.

But it is not the end of the post, because while the wide-angle lens took water like a damn sponge and got messed up, the camera body survived fine. And since I had more lenses with me, let's keep going.


You can notice that the perspective of all the following shots is tighter, because I was forced to limit my focal lengths to 35mm and more. Everything wider is stitched panoramic shot, and everything on long exposure was either handheld or supported by a rock or something, because obliviously that dang tripod wasn’t useful anymore.

I skipped some more waterfalls and just drove to the Pedestal Rock Scenic Area.


A cool bridge somewhere along the way.

My mood increased there, since it was one of the best trails of the trip. Just somewhere around five miles, but it goes through nice woods soon to open on a cliff with a waterfall.


Close to the cliff is a variety of nice-looking rock formations.


This section reminded me of one of my favorite rock-climbing locations in Europe and brought good memories. Once I got back to the car, I went to Jasper to spend the night.


The northwest of the town offers many off-road trails to reach great scenery, but I didn’t attempt those because the recent rains made many already steep roads muddy and rutted. It wasn’t something I felt was a good idea with my 2wd; moreover, the luck I had so far this trip didn’t add courage either. Instead, the following day I went into the Lost Valley to see Eden Falls. Later I found that it is one of the most popular trails in the whole of Arkansas, and I have no doubt why. The first part of the path is basically wheelchair accessible, but the second is where it gets incredibly cool. Before reaching the main falls, there are these small ones:

Before reaching the big falls, there are these small ones. See that tunnel they are coming from? You can actually climb through it to the other side of the rock wall, around 70 feet my guess.

See that tunnel they are coming from? You can actually go through it to the other side of the rock, around 70 feet, my guess.

It is a great, fun thing to do.


Soon after that, I stood next to the Eden Falls.


A very neat place where oh-I-wish-I’d-have-that-wideangle. This pic is like 30 shots blended together.

Anyway, to my surprise, it wasn’t the end of the trail – above the falls is also a cave. A thing I didn’t know but very much welcomed this fact. The cave is about 50 yards long, and there is a room with an inside waterfall at the end. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds.

See that hole? there's the entrance.

There’s the entrance.

Now, once you get in, there are actually two ways to get to the room, but neither for a claustrophobic person as both are pretty tight (mainly if you are as tall as I am). The first is where the stream goes, and you have to literary crawl for around 30-40 feet. The second is a tad shorter and wider, so you have to crawl only in one spot, just like four feet or so. As I was there for the first time, without any knowledge of these choices and there was nobody to follow, I got in the long way. For the people who know me, it is no surprise that I like to climb to interesting places and that I don’t mind those kinds of obstacles while reaching the goal. They are fun and something I am pretty comfortable with; however, the fact I dislocated my shoulder just two days ago, and now I was crawling in a pitch-black cave, made the situation somewhat awkward. “What a recovery plan! Only if a doctor would see this,” I thought.  Anyway, I reached the room with the waterfall, and it was pretty awesome.

Yes, this is a stitched shot too.

My headlamp produced about as much light as three dead fireflies, so it was very dim there. Hard to focus the camera, as well as to held it steady for a couple seconds to be able to gather at least some light.

On my way back, I found the shorter way out and then hiked down to the car.

The next thing on my program was Glory Hole, one of Arkansas’ most iconic places. As usual, there was no sign on the highway, but for once, the trail itself was well-marked.


The woods around the trail are just beautiful, so it was a joy to walk through.


And then there is the hole:

one of the coolest showers you can get

one of the coolest showers you can take

My last stop for the day was Hedges Pouroff. I didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be a waterfall off a cliff similar to the Pedestal Rock, just with no trail, railings on the edge, or anything.

The cliff is straight, so there isn't any spot to view the waterfall other than stand on the top of it. But you can at least sit on the edge and observe the opposite side of the valley.

The cliff is straight, so there isn’t any spot to view the waterfall other than standing on its top. But you can at least sit on the edge and observe the opposite side of the valley.

After this one, I headed slowly back towards Kansas, but before leaving Arkansas, I planned to stop by an interesting town of Eureka Springs and visit two marvelous architectural sites.

That and more is described in the third, and last part of the story.

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories