INTRODUCTION AND RATING INFORMATION
This document contains information on the whitewater rivers and creeks of Arkansas. The information is NOT guaranteed to be completely accurate or up-to-date. Rapids, hazards, and access status may change quickly for many of these creeks. All ratings and descriptions are solely the opinion of the author, and the reader assumes all responsibility for his or her own interpretation of the material presented here. When you choose to paddle any creek, you do so at your own risk! Don't substitute these ratings and descriptions for scouting and good judgement. To help put the ratings in perspective here are some sample ratings of rivers in other parts of the country that I have done:
Nantahala R. (NC) = II-III Chattooga R. (GA) Sect III @ 2.5 ft. = II-IV Ocoee R. (TN) @ 1200 cfs = III Tellico R. (Ledges) (TN) @ 500 cfs = III-IV Crystal Narrows (CO) @ 1200 cfs = IV Pine Cr. and Numbers, Arkansas R. (CO) @ 1200 cfs = III-IV (V) Chattooga R. Sect IV @ 2.5 ft. (high) = III-V Upper Gauley R. @ 2800 cfs = III-V Cascades of the Nantahala @ optimal flows = III-IV+ Russell Fork (KY) @ 800 cfs = IV-V
These may seem a bit low to you if you're a beginner, or they may seem a bit high to you if you're a seasoned expert. And, of course, some of these runs, such as creek runs like the Cascades and Tellico, compare better with Ozark streams than bigger river runs like the Chattooga and Gauley. Just remember that a class III rating in this document generally means that you can expect a lot of solid class III action. If the rating is class IV or V there will be oppourtinites for serious injury or even death for an out of control paddler. The Index by Difficulty section (below) provides a fairly good comparison of the overall difficulty of the creeks. Creeks of equal or very similar difficulty have been listed in alphabetical order. Also notice that some creeks that have similar ratings have very different hazards (Cossatot R. and Fall Cr. for instance). On the lower end of the scale, don't assume that just because you have successfully run the Big Piney and Hurricane creeks, you are ready to tackle creeks such as Spirits Cr. and Kings R. The gap between class II to II+ and class III to III+ is a big one. Take time to hone your skills on the runs you are comfortable with before moving on to the next level. Above the class III level, the creeks become very tight and technical, and very fast paced (with Richland Cr. being a relatively big, medium volume entry in the class IV category). The margin for error on these creeks is often very small, and the penalties for mistakes can be very high. Runs at the top of the scale such as Whistlepost Cr., Beech Cr., Shop Cr., Sulphur Cr., and Possum Walk Cr. represent the limit of navigable water in the Ozarks. These runs have already produced injuries, accidents and several near misses, despite only having been run a few times each. Even boaters who routinely run these types of creeks put themselves at great risk when attempting these runs. Please don't try to establish your reputation by running these dangerous steep creeks. These runs can put a permanent end to your whitewater career.
The rapidly changing water levels on many of the Ozark creeks can greatly influence the difficulty and danger of a run. On many of the small, steep creeks, an optimal run is had at less than 300 cfs. A little more water can turn a fun class III run into a class V death trap. Many creeks are also choked with fallen trees and willow strainers. These hazards are unpredictable, and they can form overnight. A badly placed strainer can turn a class II rapid into a portage-or-die situation. Higher water levels increase the current's speed and force and make strainers a much greater hazard. Be aware of the dangers of flood stage paddling, and don't hesitate to opt for a safer run or no run at all when the water is high.
Many of the rivers and creeks described in this document (as well as many others) can be found in Tom Kennon's excellent guidebook Ozark Whitewater (Menasha Ridge Press). This is a great resource for Ozark paddlers of all levels, and no paddler should be without it.
This list is devoted primarily to the more challenging Ozark whitewater streams. A good source of information on less difficult whitewater rivers can be found in the Arkansas Floaters Kit Page maintained by the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department. Another good source is the GORP Arkansas Rivers Page at http://www.gorp.com/gorp/resource/Us_river/ar.htm
LOCATING CREEKSThis document is divided into North and South Arkansas. The dividing line between north and south is I-40, and most directions are relative to I-40. When trying to locate put-ins and take-outs, USGS topographic quads (now available in digital format from Delorme) and a book called "The Arkansas Atlas and Gazetteer" may come in handy. Also, a book named "The Roads of Arkansas" provides good non-topographic map coverage for the entire state. One final note concerning put-ins and take-outs. Many creeks in the Ozarks are located on privately owned lands. Most landowners are very reasonable about using their land for putting in or taking out as long as you follow some simple guidelines: 1) Always get permission BEFORE accessing a creek on private land. Failure to do this will certainly irritate even the most friendly landowners, and it will often result in the landowner denying access to everyone! If you can't find out who owns the land, find another creek to run, and come back for that one after you contact the owner. The long-term gain of avoiding trouble with the owner will far outweigh any short-term thrills. Also, be aware that anyone caught trespassing in Arkansas may face stiff fines, jail time, or, worse, the end of a shotgun barrel. 2) Always treat the land with great respect. This applies to public as well as private lands. Don't litter, cut down trees, cut fences, or deface any property. Try to leave the land and the creek in better shape than you found it. 3) Always treat the landowner with respect. Don't argue with an irate landowner. Try to calmly and politely explain your side, but respect his (or her) side as well. After all, he does own the land, and you are essentially in his backyard. 4) Respect the landowner's privacy. Don't use obscene language, don't behave in an offensive way, and don't STRIP DOWN NAKED in view of a landowner or their house. You'd be surprised how much these actions can piss off someone who has small children. 5) If a landowner denies you access to his land, please let other paddlers know about it. Spreading the word helps to ensure that there won't be more trespassers who might aggravate the situation further.
LIST FORMATThe general format of each creek listing is as follows:
NAME of the creek or river Rating: classification (I to VI) for the entire run (A rating in parentheses such as III-IV (VI) indicates that there is one rapid or section that is not characteristic of the overall run.) (A "*" indicates that rating is an estimate or that the author has not run the section in question.) TDCR Rating: Rating (0 to 9) of four different factors. These ratings should be used for comparison purposes only! 1) Technical Difficulty: how hard is it to run good lines (avoiding major hazards)? 0 = easy, 9 = very hard 2) Danger Level: if you screw up (see #1 for how easy it is to screw up) how high a price will you pay? 0 = very little risk, 9 = high risk of injury or death 3) Continuity of Rapids: how fast/continuous are the rapids? 0 = long pools, short rapids, 9 = almost no pools or eddies. 4) Remoteness: if you screw up (#1) and get hurt (#2), how far away is help? 0 = road right beside river, 9 = 3 day hike to somewhere that a helicopter can land. The rating is given as a four digit number like this: 6431. This would indicate that a river is technically a 6, danger level is 4, continuity is 3, and remoteness is 1. These ratings are based on opinions collected from people who have actually paddled the rivers in question. Some runs are not rated because I couldn't get an opinion on them. Warning: This system may not correspond to the international system (I - VI). Location: Counties and put-in and take-out locations (when available) NOTE: Please read the section on Creek Access before trying to access any creek. Topo Quad(s): USGS topographic 7.5 minute (1:24000) series maps Gradient: average in feet per mile Length: length of the run in miles Season: ALL = all year round, FALL = Fall, SPRING = Spring, RAIN = only after local rains, FLOOD = only after local flood NOTE: If a run is of type RAIN, you may be able to catch it one to three days after a heavy rain. If a run is of type FLOOD, you probably need to be there within hours of a heavy rain. FLOOD runs are not easy to catch, unless you live very near them, so don't drive in from out-of-state expecting these to be running, even during periods of wet weather. Our season in Arkansas is generally from October to May with the best months being March to mid May. Gauge: as much gauging info as is available Hazards: rapids, strainers, and landowners that can threaten life and limb Description: A short description of the run.
The creeks are divided into five categories. Within each category they are listed in alphabetical order. The categories are somewhat subjective, but they are an attempt to match paddler skill level to the creeks in question. Here is a very rough idea of what each category means:
1) Beginner: Has paddled less than five times on whitewater. Has no real paddling skills. Comfortable only on class I and easy class II. 2) Novice: Has paddled several class II runs. Has some boat control skill, but unreliable self rescue skill. Confident on class II water and may run some class III. 3) Intermediate: Has experience on many class II-III runs. Has good boat control in rapids, and has self rescue skills (at least a pool roll). Comfortable with most class III rapids and may run some class IV. 4) Advanced: Has experience on many class III-IV runs. Has excellent boat control in class III+ (including eddying and ferrying), and solid self rescue skills (rolls in whitewater). Confident in class III-IV water, and may run class V. Can lead continuous class III. 5) Expert: Has years of experience on class III-V runs. Has excellent boat control even in very heavy water. Has bombproof self rescue skill, and can organize and exectute rescue of others. Confident in class IV-V water, and can lead continuous class III-IV.Of course, paddlers, like creeks, are not easy to lump into a finite number of categories. But this should provide you with a rough idea of what creeks you should be looking at.
Rating: III-V TDCR: 7878 Location: Newton Co.; The put-in is reached by taking Dixon Ridge Rd. west off of Hwy 21 about 1.5 miles north of Fallsville. This road is the same as the put-in road for the popular Hailstone Cr. run. About 2.5 miles down this road, just before it starts to really drop in elevation down to the Hailstone, there is a small road turning to the right in the middle of a switchback. This road leads to the Dahl Memorial wilderness access. You should see a USFS sign-in board located near a parking turnout. Park here and brushwhack southeast about 1/2 mile to the creek. You're aiming for approx. elevation 1820 feet, where two major tributaries merge. The take-out is at the Hwy. 21 bridge over the Buffalo R., the standard Hailstone take-out. In an emergency (such as not having time to paddle out on the Hailstone), you can pull out at the confluence with the Hailstone and brushwhack up 500 vertical feet to a small road that will take you back to the put-in. This is not a fun thing to do, but if you have to do it, start at the confluence on the left side of Adkins and try to follow the spine of the ridge up to the southwest. Always keep climbing because the point you're trying to reach is at the very top (elevation 2087 on the USGS Fallsville quad). The foundation of an old homestead marks the end of the road which leads off to the southwest and eventually ends up at the Dahl Memorial. It's best to take along a good topo map and compass. Good luck. Topo Quad(s): Fallsville, Boxley Gradient: 150 fpm (2nd mile at 190 fpm) Length: 15 mi. (2 miles on Adkins plus 13 miles on Hailstone Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Several feet of water over the low water bridge over the Buffalo R. at Ponca is probably a good indicator. Smith Cr. should also look very big and muddy at Hwy. 21. Like Smith Cr., putting on shortly after very heavy rainfall is a must for catching the creek at a good level. Dragging down to the put-in when it's too low can be a nightmare. You may be able to predict the levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are linked below. The Ponca and Buffalo Tower gauges are the ones to watch. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: strainers, severely undercut rocks, severe rapids, hydraulics, etc. Description: Overlooked and ignored for many years, Adkins Cr. was first paddled on June 17, 2000 by Dave "Ghost" Reid, Steve "Dog" Robertson, and Bill "Fish" Herring. Like many Newton Co. creek runs, a run down Adkins creek can't be adequately summed up in print. It compares in difficulty to classics like Beech Cr. and Shop Cr., but like those has a personality all it's own. Probably the best way to get an appreciation for the creek is to hike it from the put-in to the Buffalo and back up. The hike is spectacular and will give you a chance to inspect the big rocks that form the myriad drops in the creek. When big rains fall, the creek becomes runnable where two smaller creeks merge southeast of the Dahl Memorial. Immediately the paddler is faced with three blind ledges. This is "Gimme Three Steps", and it is a great start to the day if you avoid getting surfed in the holes at the bottom of the drops. After some tree dodging you'll come around a corner and onto a sliding shelf of rock. Get out quickly to scout "The Last Step". This big drop is walled in by an undercut grotto, and at moderate to high levels the water below kicks underneath the river right wall making for a class V drop. It was not run on the firost descent, but it may look more user friendly at lower or higher water levels. Until the hydraulic is probed, it should be treated as a keeper. Portage is easiest on the right side. A big slide into a hole follows Last Step, and after this the creek changes to blind, undercut boulder piles for the next 1.75 miles. The first of these, "Undercut #1" will give you an idea of what is going to come at you over and over again for the rest for the trip. There are two particulary nasty spots to watch out for. One of these is "Ghost's Hole" about 1/8 mile below Last Step. After dropping over a few ledges the creek runs underneath an undercut bluff on the left. A pour on the right can be run, but a mistake may still put you under the wall. The only good portage option is on the right. The second major hazard is another nasty undercut trap located maybe 1/4 mile from the end of the gorge. "Dead Man's Leap" looks just like many of the other ledge/boulder drops from the top, but all of the water pours off of the ledge and under a big rock. The creek is walled in by bluffs and portages are tricky. Although these are the only drops I'll single out, at moderately high levels almost every drop is potentially dangerous. Frequent bank scouting is a must, and moves in front of undercuts are a fact of life. The average drop involves running a class III+ line to miss class V hazards. For the experienced creeker it is Nirvana. For anyone not familiar with this type of water it will not be pleasant. Once you emerge at the confluence with the Hailstone, you have two options. The best one is to paddle out, but the Hailstone will be at or near flood, and it is a continuous, hairy, big-water run at these levels. Huge keeper holes and pourovers must be carefully avoided. If you have the time to make it before dark, you can paddle to Hwy. 21 in around 2.5 to 3 hours. If not, take-out option #2 is a 500 vertical foot climb back up to a small road that follows the top of the ridge for two miles back to the Dahl Memorial. This is only a last resort, but it may be less dangerous than trying to boat flooded rapids in the dark. Adkins is an incredible wilderness creek run combined with a long, floodstage run-out on the Hailstone. Trips can quickly become epic and aborting a trip anywhere in the gorge is about the least fun thing I can think of. Make sure you're comfortable running this type of steep creek before you commit yourself to this awesome Ozark gorge.
Rating: II+ TDCR: ???? Location: Pope and Van Buren Co.; Take Hwy. 16 west from Clinton and then Hwy. 264 north to the bridge over the creek. Put in at this bridge. Take out at the Hwy. 65 bridge in Clinton. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Alread, Botkinburg, Old Lexington, Clinton Gradient: ??? fpm Length: 20 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: none. The Big Piney gauge is a reasonable estimate. The Piney should be between 4 and 7 feet for a good run. Hazards: numerous strainers Description: This is a long but fun run, and it makes a good overnight trip, if you secure permission for camping on private land. Other put-ins are possible, but be sure you get permission to cross private lands to get to the river. The run has many class II+ rapids, and the whitewater is fairly continuous much of the way. Willow strainers can be a major hazard, however, so stay on your toes. This is a good run for paddlers comfortable on class II-III water.
Rating: III-V * TDCR: ???? Location: Go 4 miles West on Hwy 123 from Pelsor (Sand Gap) and take Forest Service Road 1802 South at Bertha. The road runs the ridge on the West Side of Indian Creek. Drive about 1.3 miles and look for a deer camp on the left. Park at the camp and carry down the trail directly across the road. The trail immediately passes by a small pond. Follow the trail North to the end of the knob and follow the trail 3/4 down the mountain. The trail continues North and crosses a small creek. Bushwhack to the left on the North side of the creek to the main creek. This is where the 3 upper forks come together at the beginning of a long slide. (Elevation 1490) Reach the take-out by going East from the Hwy 123 bridge over the Piney for 1/4 mile. The Hwy crosses over Sugar Creek in a right hand turn then curves left up the hill. Look for the first road to the left (South). Another deer camp is located here. A 4WD trail leads 1/4 mile to the creek just above the confluence with the Big Piney. (Elevation 720) Topo Quad(s): Fort Douglas Gradient: 185 fpm Length: 4 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Gage at Richland Campground should to be above 6 or headed that way. Look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer and Ben Hur rain gages, at the BNR Data Page. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. If the Sugar Creek just East of the Hwy 123 bridge over the Piney is flowing good, it's a definite run! Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. Very tight in places (pinning hazards). Don't broach in "Mama Bear Falls" and beware of "Papa Bear Falls". The "Bear Trap" is a nasty undercut 3/4 of the way down the creek after section of class II water. The first 1.25 miles drops at 300 ft/mile. Description: First known descent was December 12, 1999 by Lance Jones, Cowper Chadbourn, Greg Churan, Shelby Johnson, Mitchell Ford, Graham Henry and Jeff Riley. The creek starts out fast and narrow with a 50-60 yard long stair stepping slide ending in a steep funnel dropping 10-12 feet. The creek is very narrow as is starts to cut into the gorge, several long slides and boulder fields are encountered in the first 1/2 miles. At this point be on the lookout for a small creek crashing in on the left. Immediately below the confluence is the "Bear Pin". A cluttered approach makes the left side boof difficult. A vertical pin is very likely with a missed boof. A few hundred yards downstream the creek turns 90 degrees to the left as a small tributary enters on the right. Get out on the river left and portage the inside of the corner around the multiple logjams. This is the end of the warm-up. The creek drops 200 feet in the next 2/3 mile! Maximum gradient tops out over 550 ft/mile in this section. After a couple of nice drops the creek sweeps to the right and cuts back to the left around a steep right bank. Eddy out and scout the next boulder jumble, "Bear Claw". There are multiple routes through the jumble and pinning is very possible. Low water runs through here are tight and bumpy. Only a couple smaller drops separate the end of "Bear Claw" and the entrance slide to "Baby Bear Falls". This is a very clean and very beautiful 15+ drop. A gentle slide transitions into a 45 degree slope then empties into a fantastic grotto pool over a 8-10 ft waterfall. Enjoy the view and be ready to scout the next big drop less than 100 yards downstream. "Mama Bear Falls" starts with a 20 yard gentle slide 20 feet wide then drops 15+ feet at a very steep angle as it funnels into a 4 foot wide notch. After leaving the notch the water fans out over bedrock as it pushes toward the left overhanging wall. Eddy out above the next horizon line. Scout and/or portage on the left for the big boy, "Papa Bear Falls". The creek splits into two narrow slots around a large boulder in the middle of the 15-foot wide creek. The water drops 12+ feet from each slot into a 8-10 ft wide cauldron. The exit from the cauldron is through a 3-5 ft wide 15 ft deep sluice that is 50-60 feet long and makes a jog to the left in the middle. The sluice looked nasty at the low water level, a flip or pin in there will be disastrous. The water exits the sluice over a 10 foot drop out of a wall into another picture perfect grotto pool. This was the only drop not run on the first descent. This is truly a unique drop. The creek calms down a little for half-mile before entering a mini gorge recognized by the return of large boulders to the creek. Pick you way through the slots. The creek returns to calm fast class II, but don't get lulled just yet. A small tributary will enter on the left as the creek takes a hard right turn. Again boulders reappear in the creek. After a slot to the left cuts back to the right along a steep shale bank, look for a very large boulder on the left followed by another very large on the right bank. Cut to the left immediately behind the first boulder and scrape down the boat-wide channel. The main channel stays to the right toward and UNDER the second Boulder. It is very difficult to recognize until you are right on it or know it is there. This one is apply named "Bear Trap". Fast class II water takes you the last mile to just above the confluence with the Piney. Look for the 4WD trail on the right just as a field comes into view. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek will seem like a very technical Class III, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher levels, several rapids are expected to become solid Class V. A tip o' the hat to Lance Jones for a write-up of this great Ozark steepie! See Lance Jones' Pages for more info on Bear Cr.
Rating: III-V TDCR: 8888 Location: Newton Co.; Put in is off of Cave Mtn. Rd. west of Boxley. You must hike down to Edgemon Cr. from near Ryker just past the Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag) trail head. GET PERMISSION FROM LOCAL LANDOWNERS BEFORE TRESPASSING ON PRIVATE LANDS. Take out is at the Beech Cr. bridge at Hwy 21 at Boxley. You should park at the Boxley bridge over the Buffalo R., since there is no room to park at the Beech Cr. bridge. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Boxley Gradient: 90 fpm (some sections approach 120 fpm) Length: 7.5 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Buffalo R. should usually be running very high - over two feet of water over the low water bridge at Ponca is a good sign. There is a gauge painted on the river-right side of a pylon on the Beech Cr. bridge at Hwy 21. A minimum put-in level would be around 4 feet and rising. If the creek is already falling look for at least 5 feet on this gauge. The creek drops out very quickly (forming many boulder sieves at low water), so plan for that. The creek has been run at levels over 7 feet on this gauge, but at really high levels the creek is incredibly pushy with several near-terminal holes. You may be able to predict the levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are linked below. The Ponca and Buffalo Tower gauges are the ones to watch. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: continuous tough rapids, strainers, undercuts, etc., etc. Description: Beech is quite possibly the toughest overall run in the Ozarks. The first runs/walks of Beech may have occurred in the early 80's but the first complete run of the creek was probably done by a small group including Jeff Green in the Fall of 1986. The rapids are long, continuous, and demanding and the penalties for mistakes are usually severe. The creek runs through an almost inaccessible gorge, so hiking out is very unpleasant, though more than a few boaters have done so. Pins and swims are not uncommon events, even among boaters who know the creek well, and equipment can easily be broken or lost if a mishap occurs. The drops are non-stop, with one drop feeding right into the next for more than five miles. Multiple slot drops abound, and paddlers unfamiliar with the creek will need to take plenty of time to scout to avoid the many dead-end slots and other hidden traps. A few drops do stand out of the crowd. The first mile is known as the Jungle Gym, which starts with a nasty hole just 30 yards from the put-in, and provides only small eddies to stop in from there. Just before the confluence of Edgemon Cr. and upper Beech Cr. (or Beech "Proper" as it has come to be known), Beech Ball is a class IV drop with a tough move to miss the "Ball" at the end. At the confluence with Beech Proper, would-be hair boaters can hike up to look at a series of class IV+ drops just upstream on the merging creek - if time permits. About 150 yards from the confluence is White Lightning, a long slide with huge waves and a big hole at the end! The last drop that really stands out is Beech Falls, a nasty looking class IV ledge with a reasonable line just to the right of the rock splitting the drop at its lip. It's best to run angling hard left after you come around the rock, since the rooster tail on the right tends to knock the ever lovin crap out of paddlers who hit it (to quote creek pioneer Jeff Green). Of course, this description of the "highlights" omits dozens of other long, technical drops, some with thin lines around dangerous hazards. Beech Cr. basically throws everything in the book at you for five miles in a row, wearing paddlers down and making it arguably the most difficult overall run in the Midwest. Several of the area's best creek boaters have come away from the creek with damaged egos, equipment, and bodies! Regardless of your skill level, the best way to tackle Beech is to run it behind someone who has been there before. The creek is a BIG step up from creeks like Richland, EFLB, etc. Make sure you're ready for it and take your creek boat with you for this one. Thanks go to Ryan Johnson and Shelby Johnson for information on this legendary Ozark creek!
Rating: IV-V TDCR: 9895 Location: The take-out is at the popular Hwy 220 bridge over Lee Cr. (the put-in for section 2 of Lee). To get to the put-in take Hwy 220 south from Lee Cr. (the paved side) until you almost reach the top of the hill. Turn off on the first major dirt road to the left. This is the road that goes from Hwy. 220 to Chester and Hwy. 71. Follow this road for approx. 5 miles until you reach a four-way intersection (there is a house with a large cedar fence at the intersection). Take a left (a 120 degree switchback) and drive about 2 miles. You'll eventually see a private RV hookup on the right. Just past this RV hookup, a road turns left and immediately forks in two directions. (If you get to a small chruch and cemetery on the left you've gone too far.) Take the right fork down the hill if you have a 4WD or park at the camping spot on the left fork and hike down 1/8 mile to the creek. The first tiny creek that the road crosses is Ben Doodle Cr. Topo Quad(s): Rudy NE Gradient: 350 fpm (1/2 mi @ 550 fpm) Length: 7.5 mi (counting 5.75 miles on Blackburn Cr. and Lee Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: The best way to gauge it is to inspect the put-in. Water should be filling the streambed and the creek should look easily boatable where the road crosses it. The big slide just downstream of the road should be able to be run without slowing the boat down much on the way down. Keep in mind that the water you see at the put-in is basically all of the water you have in the gorge. If Lee Cr. is at 15+ feet and Clear Cr. at Chester is in flood you MIGHT have enough water to run Ben Doodle. Ben Doodle has a much smaller watershed than Hart Cr., and it takes a very heavy rain (2.5+ inches) in a very short time to bring it up. Hazards: waterfalls, undercut rocks, trees, barbed wire (at the first rapid), and continous, heavy rapids Description: Ben Doodle Cr. may be the fastest and most difficult creek run in Crawford Co. It's certainly the steepest run I I know of that you can drive to! This tiny creek was first run at very low levels on April, 5 1999 by Steve "Dog" Robertson, Zack Smith, Rob Pollan, Mike Echols, and Bill Herring. Quite a few rapids were not run on the first descent due to the water level, and those that were run were not at full speed - much of the creek was shallow class III+ water at the first descent level. It was attempted again about two years later at a very high level by Mikle and Rob, but that time high water made several rapids extremely hazardous. As a result, there are several rapids in the gorge that have yet to be run. This tiny creek needs a lot of rainfall to reach runnable levels, and once it gets there, it doesn't stay there long. When you get to the put-in, don't put on the creek at the road crossing. A barbed wire fence hangs into the creek just around the corner. Carry your boat down 30 yards or so and put in just past the fences if you want to run the 18+ foot "Doodle Slide" to start off the run. Be careful to not get washed downstream at the bottom the the slide because another barbed wire strand hangs at the lip of the next small fall that immediately follows the slide. Portage from the base of Doodle Slide around this next fence. After this portage, the creek drops over back-to-back class III+ drops through trees. This is the warmup stretch for the gorge, so if you have trouble here, it's a good idea to hike out before you reach the more intense rapids below. About 1/4 mile down you'll run into a brutal drop of twelve feet nicknamed "The Midget Maker". This rapid has a completely blind approach - by the time you see the horizon line you are committed to the drop. There is however a good eddy that can be used to stop and portage the drop just above it. Scout ahead dilligently until you get past this drop! The drop lands on solid rock - a probe boat dropped over on the first run slammed into the streambed only one foot under the surface! Portage Midget Maker on the right. You're now in the gorge and the intensity just keeps increasing from here down. After another 100 yards of complex drops, you'll stumble into "Atom Smasher". Scout ahead at every turn after Midget Maker to keep from being swept into this huge drop against your will. This rapid starts as an simple rock jumble, goes around a corner, drops through some large twisting drops and then finishes with a big slide. The total vertical drop between starting and stopping is over 40 feet. If you come around the first innocent looking corner, you'll probably be running the entire rapid, so approach this one with care. Several complex class III+ to IV drops follow Atom Smasher. There are few places to stop, so when you do get stopped scout ahead to the next pool or eddy. The gradient in this stretch approaches pegs out at over 500 fpm. When you see a house-sized rock on the left ahead of you, get out to portage a large deadfall just around the corner. Take this oppoutunity to scout the next 150 yards. Somewhere in that distance the creek goes from moderately crazy to completely insane as it enters the 700+ fpm gradient around Tenderizer and Masticator. Where Tenderizer actually begins is debatable It is simply the name for the multiple class IV to IV+ drops that proceed the 18 foot class V drop of Masticator. Scout this stretch very carefully, as there are many hidden hazards. If you decide to run it, set plenty of bank support in strategic places along the way. A blown line here could result in serious problems. If you make the decision to portage Masticator, either bank will work well. After Masticator, you'll get 1/3 mile of more class III to IV drops. This is not as intense as the section just above, but don't let your gaurd down too quickly. After that, the creek mellows to continous class II-III with lots of trees until it merges into a flooded Blackburn Cr. At these extremely high levels Blackburn and Lee Cr. can present some serious hazards as well. Don't play around with these creeks at these levels. After you merge with Lee Cr. watch for Hart Cr. to come in on the left. When it does, get to the far left side of the creek to skirt a huge, deadly hydraulic that forms across Lee Cr. just below the Hart Cr. confluence. At floodstage, the 6 mile trip down Blackburn and Lee to the Hwy. 220 bridge should only take 1.5 hours or so. Dispite the rather silly name, Ben Doodle is a serious Ozark creek run. As is typicall of Crawford Co. the rapids are generally ugly boulder piles often with no really good routes. The creek is tiny, but that actually works against a paddler when there is sufficient water, providing little or no maneuvering room. A pre-run hike is an excellent idea, but nothing will eliminate the need for almost continuous bank scouting in the gorge. As a result it's a good idea to plan on taking three to four hours to navigate the half mile long gorge. Ben Doodle is a big step up from its sister creek, Hart Cr. If there is any doubt, run Hart Cr., which features class III+ to IV+ rapids in a less threatening environment. Both of these are no place for those who are not absolutely confident of their abilities on fast, tight Ozark creeks and class IV+ water.
Rating: III-V * TDCR: 8786 Location: Newton Co.; Go south, downhill from Iceledo Gap to Hill Cemetery (4WD required). Drag downhill about 0.1 mile to put-in. Creek looks too small at put in, but do it anyway. Take-out is at Richland Creek Campground. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Moore Gradient: 190 fpm (not counting Richland) Length: 2.4 mi. plus 1.5 mi. on Richland Season: FLOOD Gauge: Water should be nearly flush with Richland Campground bridge or above 6 ft on the ACC Bulletin Board gauge. Also, look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer and Ben Hur rain gauges, as posted on the ACC Bulletin Board. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours for a run. At very high levels, expect a solid class V run for 4 miles. Hazards: severe undercuts, difficult rapids, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls Description: First known descent of this creek was on April 11, 1995 by Cowper Chadbourn, Charles Chevallier, Andy Hicks, Nathan Kline, and Joe Warren (of Galveston), with the exception of Big Devil's Fall (one of the Twin Falls) which was first run by Nathan Kline on April 29, 1995. This run begins as a creek so tiny that you will think you have made a mistake, but it quickly builds in intensity. The run has many tough class III to IV rapids sprinkled with a generous helping of strainers and undercut rocks. The highlight of the trip is the run of the Twin Falls near the confluence with Richland Cr. Depending on water level, you may either run the Big Devils (left) side, or access and run the the Long Devils side via a short carry. As of December, 1995, of 20+ runs divided between the Twin Falls, only two or three "pitons" have occurred, all on Long Devil's Falls (river right). Keep your speed up and try to launch well into the pool, running either of the falls slightly left of center. Be prepared for a "big water" run through some of Richland's most difficult rapids after the confluence (IV+ at these levels). All rapids have been run, although the boulder jumble just below the first waterfall has been marginal for water levels encountered to date. Big Devils Fork, like its sister creek, is an "experts only" run. The extremely tight course, high gradient, and numerous hazards combine to pose a significant risk of life and limb for even the most experienced boaters. Thanks go to Cowper Chadbourn for information on this great Ozark hair run. See Lance Jones' Pages for more info on Big Devils Cr.
Rating: II TDCR: 2224 Location: Johnson and Pope Co.; S1: Take Hwy 7 north from I-40 at Russelville, and then take Hwy 123 west to Fort Douglas. Put in at Hwy 123 bridge. Take out at Helton's Farm reached by taking Hwy 164 west from Hwy 7 then NFR 1801 to NFR 1805 and heading west toward the river. S2: Take out at Long Pool Rec. Area west of NFR 1801 on NFR 1804. S3: Take out at Hwy 164 bridge. Kerry Moore at Moore Outdoors located just south of the bridge provides canoes and/or shuttles for the run. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Fort Douglas, Treat Gradient: 10 - 20 fpm Length: S1: 8 mi. S2: 10 mi. S3: 5 mi. Season: SPRING and FALL Gauge: Readings can be obtained by calling the Corps at 501-324-5150 or by calling Moore Outdoors. The level should be between 2.8 and 5.0 ft. for good canoeing. Advanced boaters can enjoy pushy big water up to 7.0 ft. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: pourover hydraulics at high levels, the Little Mother rock Description: S1 is a good class I-II run for canoeists. Beware of downed trees in this section. S2 is a great play run for intermediate boaters and a challenging run for beginners. Some of the best action on S2 comes 3/4 of the way down at Surfing Rapid and The Mother. The left side of The Mother is a tricky class II+ to III rapid at any level, and the Little Mother, a midstream boulder, seems to attract canoes like a magnet. Surfing rapid usually has a good wave and a very forgiving wash out. Many Ozark boaters have cut their teeth on this stretch. S3 is more tamed down, but at high water it kicks up big waves at The Haystacks. Just below Long Pool you can go left or right of an island. The right is a rather tricky chute I call Plinko. Most beginners will want to stay away from this rapid, especially at high water.
Rating: II-III TDCR: 3335 Location: The put-in can be reached by driving down off of Hwy 74. The only real "public" access is off of the Holt Road Loop near Devils Den State Park. Take Hwy 74 west off of I-540 until you are just about to drop down the hill into the State Park. When you see a "steep grade" truck warning sign take the dirt road on your left. This is just past a gated road on the left, and it is before the main access to the Holt Road (near the parking area). Past this point the roads are 4WD only! Follow the dirt road about 1 mile. Look for a road to turn left and go steeply downhill toward the creek. Follow this road for about 1 to 1.5 miles until you reach the creek. The road is extremely rough in wet weather, so you may want to stop and walk down if it looks too bad. The take out is (unfortunately) at Lee Cr. at the Hwy 220 bridge (the put in for section 2 of Lee Cr.). It's best to shuttle back to I-540 and then down through Chester, because Fall Cr. will probably block you if you take the route through Devils Den and up Hwy 220! You can also put in by carrying down off of I-540 where it crosses one of the far upper tributaries if there is a lot of water in the creek. This hasn't been done yet, as far as I know, but it is possible and will add quite a bit of class II-III water onto the run. Topo Quad(s): ??? Gradient: 25 fpm Length: 8 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: Lee Cr. should be above 6.5 or so for a possible Blackburn run. If Lee is above 7.5 and assuming an even distribution of rainfall in the watershed, Blackburn will have plenty of water. Be careful that all of the water in Lee isn't comming from Fall Cr. and Upper Lee Cr. (i.e. Devils Den Park), which can happen. If Lee Cr. is over 10 feet expect a much more serious ride down Blackburn. At over 15 feet on the Lee Cr. gauge, strainers make much of the creek a death trap, and other good area creeks are just hitting their prime. A flood run on Blackburn would just be a dangerous waste of time. Hazards: Strainers and downed trees are the main hazard. There are a few good hydraulics to look out for too though. Description: Blackburn Cr. is a great class II+ wilderness run that has been overlooked for years. The creek was probably first run in the mid 80's, but very few boaters have ever done it. The biggest problem is finding a put-in. When I-540 first opened, one of the comments I heard the most from boaters was that it crossed Blackburn Cr. tributaries several times and would provide a potential public access to the creek. While I still don't know anyone who has tried this, it is a very real possibility. Asuuming you can find a good way to get to the creek, you'll have a bouncy run through several miles of wild country. There are plenty of strainers along the way and lots of fast curves and swift rapids. Other than the trees, there are no really serious hazards for competent class II-III boaters. If the water is high (e.g. Lee Cr. is over 10 to 12 feet), watch out for some dangerous hydraulics, especially an almost river-wide "hole-o-death" that forms just past the Hart Cr. confluence on Lee Cr. At high levels, Blackburn becomes pushy enough to elevate some rapids into the class III category, but the strainers become nearly unavoidable. It's probably a good idea to find another run when the creek is running full tilt. At any level, all boaters should be experienced with fast class II-III water and dodging strainers.
Rating: III-IV+ TDCR: 7776 Location: Searcy Co.; Go south from Richland Campground 3.6 miles on FS 1205, then east (left) 2.0 miles on FS 1219, and finally north (another left) 3.0 miles on FS 1219A. From this point turn east on a barely visible 4WD road that descends a hill. If conditions are bad you may have to carry the 0.7 mile down to the creek on this road. Take out is on S2 of Richland Cr. Optional takeout is to carry approx. 1.0 miles along trail back up to the Richland Campground bridge. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Moore Gradient: 125 fpm (1 mi @ 165 fpm) Length: 2.5 mi. (+ 9.5 mi on S2 of Richland Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Richland Cr. Campground bridge should have above 1 ft. of airspace (About 4.0 ft or higher on the USGS web gauge). Recent heavy local rains are a must for this run. Look for Falling Water Falls to be runnable all the way across. This is a good indication of water on Bobtail. Look for 1.5 inches or more of rain in the last 12 hours on the Tilly and Ben Hur rain gauges on the BNR site. Hazards: undercuts, hydraulics, difficult rapids, and, of course, strainers Description: This one was first run in Jan, 1994, by Cowper Chadbourn, Jim McDaniel, and Paul Newton. It contains about ten very significant rapids and lots of class III action in between. For the first 0.75 miles, the creek is shallow fast class II-III with willows. Good place to warm up, this section is also prone to downed trees. Be on the lookout for a sweeping bend to the left terminating in a log jam. Sometimes the logs can be jumped, many times a portage on the left is needed. Immediately below this jam is the first set of good drops. First 'Zorro' starts with a tight slot back to the left behind a pin rock. Cut back to the right after the slot, avoid the undercut on the right and line up for the wave/hole train that follows. Snake through the rock gardens below with a 4-foot double ledge in the middle. A large boulder rising vertically from the right signifies time to eddy left. The next drop is 'Go Left Falls' aka 'Cowper Dam'. Most of the water flows off a rock slanted to the right and into a narrow slot and undercut. Get up plenty of speed and go off the end of the flat rock. Several encounters with the slot have produced bruised bodies and egos. Next is 'Coliseum' originally known as 'Go Right Falls' due to a tree in the left slot on the first runs. Main channel goes right and over a 6-foot stairstep. Alternate route is to run the slots on the left and boof into the eddy. Take the straight line in the runout through a 3 foot wide slot. Now the pre-show is over and you get brief intermission of more fast class II-III water as Little Bobtail and Short Bobtail enter to pump up the volume. When the creek cuts back to the left over a horizon line, you're ready for the feature presentation. The next 0.75 miles is Ozark steep creekin' at its best. Major rapids are 'Bail-Baby-Bail', 'Werewolf', 'The Funnel' and 'The Slot'. 'Bail-Baby-Bail' starts at the horizon line and is a long drop with undercuts, trees, holes and pin potential. Main line is to enter down the slide right, avoid the rooster tail rock and tree, over the ledge, around the corner to the right and down through the series of holes to the left. The holes tend to push hard to the right and into the shallow rocks on the bottom right side. Finish through some tight slots after the recovery eddys below the holes. Creek turns left again and enters 'Werewolf'. Enter on the slide right and catch the right eddy, ferry back to the left above the Fang rock and down through the series of holes. A couple nice ledge drops follow before the entrance to the 'Funnel'. Again trees growing in the middle of the rock garden hide the horizon line. Enter right and punch the ledge hole, and ride the flume down through a couple more holes into the eddy-pool below. Several more good rock jumbles follow. Be on the look for a rapid where the flume narrows to 10-12 feet and ends in a house sized boulder on the left bank as the creek cuts sharp right. A large eddy to the left is a good place to stop and prepare for 'The Slot'. The creek bends back to the left and cuts back right as it funnels between two large boulders slanting in from each bank. Build up speed to punch the entrance wave-holes and the final hole at the bottom. This hole has provided numerous creekboat rodeos. The meat of the hole is river left, but the right bank below the hole is undercut, so the best line is to punch through the center. The eddy/pool below feeds a 5 foot offset ledge drop. The left bank below the drop is very sharp limestone. Best line is to boof straight of the far right side, but avoid the left edge of the right half of the ledge or you will likely piton on the lip and fall into the hole. Some more class III follows to the confluence with Richland. Paddlers need to be very, very confident on Richland before trying this run. It is a mean little steep creek, on par with Beech or Shop Cr., only shorter. Thanks go to Cowper Chadbourn and Lance Jones for a description of this one. See Lance Jones' Pages for more info on Bobtail Cr.
Rating: IV-V TDCR: ???? Location: Newton Co.; To reach the put-in, follow Hwy 21 south from Boxley toward Mossville. After you pass Mossville, look for a bermed road on your right that has a large turnout area where several cars can be parked near the highway. This is the access for Paradise Falls described in Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls book. Park and drag over the berm and down the old logging road. The hike to the creek is about a half mile total, but it's not too bad a brushwhack if you can manage to stay on the old roads. Pass the first road trace that turns to the right and continue as the main road bears to the left (south). Take the next old road trace downhill on the right and follow it as it heads down and back to the northwest. The next turn is very hard to find. You'll pass one road trace going downhill toward the creek on your left, but keep going a bit further and take the second one. This one barely looks like a road anymore, and it's easy to get lost in the woods on the way down. If you follow it correctly, you'll intersect the creek very high up in the watershed at an elevation of about 1980 feet,just above a 5-foot ledge where the old road crosses the creek. Ernst's book and a good GPS and compass are very helpful. It's a good idea to hike down this trail before you have a chance to run the creek, just to make sure you can find it! Topo Quad(s): Fallsville, Boxley Gradient: 230 fpm (300 fpm max) Length: 10.25 mi. (2.75 miles on Boen Gulf plus 7.5 miles on Hailstone Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: The USGS Buffalo at Boxley should be very high - 8+ feet is a good indicator. However, if you wait for the gauge to update, you may have missed the water. Look for 2.5+ inches of rain in just a few hours on the Buffalo Tower and Swain rain gauges and get there when the rain stops to catch the creek. Smith Cr. is a good indicator - look at Smith from the Hwy 21 bridge. If it's muddy and running high, you probably will have enough water on Boen Gulf. The only way to be sure is to jog down to the creek and climb back out to either boat or drive on - not an easy task, but one that can avert the unpleasant experience of dragging a boat back up the hill if the water level is in doubt. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: strainers, severely undercut rocks, severe rapids, hydraulics, waterfalls, etc. Description: Boen Gulf sheds more total gradient than just about any other Ozark steep creek. Dropping 650 feet in just under three miles, it falls from the top of the Ozark plateau down to the Buffalo River valley through three distinct gorges. The put-in elevation of 1980 feet is probably the highest anywhere in the Ozarks; you're still in the nosebleed section when you launch your boat. The rapids range from fairly tame to some of the wildest drops yet attempted in Arkansas. If you can find the put-in (no small feat), the creek starts by dropping over a small ledge with a punchy hole into a large eddy on the right in a shallow cave. This starts the first gorge of the creek, but the rapids are relatively tame class III for the next 1/4 mile. You probably should be scraping some rocks here, or the level downstream may be more than you want in places! The first big drop presents a large horizon line and warrants a scout. "Dog Barf Falls" is a fairly straightforward ledge, but it foreshadows bigger things to come! After Dog Barf are two very rocky drops back-to-back. At all but the highest water levels, these will need to be portaged down to the next confluence. A creek merging from the left doubles the flow - a common occurrence on the way down Boen Gulf. There are always trees to contend with in the next couple of miles, and the current doesn't slow down very often, so be alert. Just after a small drop into a creek-wide hole, get out at the top of a low-angle slide to scout "Paradise Falls" on the left bank. It's hard to see the bottom from the top - a rope to rappel down somewhere on the left side of the gorge is an excellent idea. Paradise is about as impressive as it gets in the Ozarks: a fast slide with some tricky diagonal holes feeds a near-vertical fall that is 25+ feet high. The water explodes off of rifts in the rock face on the way down creating ominous looking rooster tails before it all crashes into a big hole at the bottom. The fall has been run several times, but high-volume creek boats with blunt, rockered bows are essential gear. A feasible line is down the middle of the drop, hopefully maintaining an upright attitude all the way down. This is class V creekin at its finest, and the portage on the left may be nastier than running the drop! After leaving Paradise, the creek settles down as it emerges from the first gorge. Dozens of class III drops, and at least one tougher rapid are on the agenda until the creek seems to disappear into a big pile of rocks. Get out on the left to scout or on the right to portage the next 1/8 mile. This is the second gorge consisting of large drops with many hazardous undercuts and sieves. A large siphon under the rock in the last drop awaits any swimmers, forming a deadly, hidden trap. This is nasty, class V+ water that most boaters will want to portage in its entirety. At the end of the ugly gradient is a small pool leading into a jumbled drop on the right that feeds onto a low-angle slide. Catch an eddy at the end of the slide where rocks push the creek to the far left into a slot. This is "Smack Yer Bottom", a ten-foot spout landing on a bedrock slide. The impact at the bottom will hit you very hard with a landing that is too flat or too steep. A screw up in the churning slot above could result in very serious injuries. The portage on the right side is simple. The slide continues down to another creek confluence that marks the end of the second gorge. The rapids mellow out for a short while, but a third gorge awaits! You'll suddenly find yourself looking for eddies among the rocks. The creek twists and drops constantly for the next 1/3 mile. Some drops that might be singled out are "Huck & Duck," where a huge dead tree on the first descent forced everyone to duck while running a slot drop into an undercut rock, "Splat To Hell," where a relatively easy looking drop bends sharply right, pushing into a boiling pile that will trap wayward boaters in a sieve on the left, and "Double Crack," which presents two interesting ways to vertically pin at the same spot in the midle and a potentially nasty surf on the sneak route on the far right. This section presents dozens of opportunities for pins and is basically one long class IV+ rapid when the water is up good. Just before reaching the Hailstone, the rapids ease up and the gorge recedes. The Hailstone will no doubt be in flood, with lots of huge waves and big holes to deal with. On the first descent, the group made it down Boen Gulf in good shape, but had multiple swimmers in the willow jungles on the Hailstone just above Boxley. Don't let your guard down! The first known descent was made on 5/16/2003 by Bill "Fish" Herring, Noah Fraiser, Lance "Lazer" Jones, Ray Skinner, Billy Williams, Mike Oglesby, and Kyle Bogard. Obviously Boen Gulf is only suitable for boaters comfortable on steep, class IV+ water who have their helmets strapped on tight!
Rating: IV-V * TDCR: ???? Location: Turn West from Hwy 7 at the "Who Would Have Thought It Gift Shop". Take the left hand fork about 1.2 miles to the 6th drive/road to the left. Park and carry or drive 0.75 mile (4WD only) to a gate. An ATV trail leads downhill just before the gate. Drag downhill about 0.5 miles to put-in (elevation 1560 ft). Reach the take out by taking the right fork at the gift shop down the hill to Hurricane Creek put-in. At the bottom of the hill the road forks. The left fork fords a creek. If the creek is high park here and carry boats out 0.5 mile. If crossable, drive 0.5 mile to house on right in left hand bend. Ask permission to park in the clearing provided by landowner (Very nice!) Topo Quad(s): Deer, Fort Douglas, Lurton, Sand Gap Gradient: 200 fpm Length: 4 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Gage at Richland Campground needs to be above 6. Look for 1.5 inches or more rain at the Deer and Ben Hur rain gages, as posted on the ACC Resource Page. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. If the small creek at the bottom of the take-out road is to the point you think about not driving across, it's a definite run! Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. Very tight in places (pinning hazzards). Vertical pins possible on left side of "THE BOSS". Avoid "The Undercut"! Description: First known descent was December 17, 1995. By Cowper Chadbourn, Chris Anderson, Chris Jones, Nathan Kline, and Lance Jones. The creek starts out fast and narrow dropping over several small slides and ledges. The run is 2 miles on Boss Hollow (200 fpm with 400 fpm max) then 2 miles on Buck Branch (80 fpm). Approximately 0.25 miles into the run there is a small ledge into a pool. Now the tight and technical section starts. Lots of pin possibilities here. This is where the Toilet Bowl and Baby Boss Slide are encountered. These are followed shortly by Face Slap Falls and Sycamore Slot. After several more extended fast continuous rapids there is another small ledge into a pool. The exit to the pool is usually cluttered/blocked with logs. Scout on the right bank. This is the entrance to THE BOSS, a very serious drop. This is the combination of the entrance to the big slide (Performance Evaluation), the big slide (Broken Paddle) and the last ledge (Half A Paddle). Pick your way around the wood or carry. Run down the main channel to the left through a slot, over a ledge and down a narrow slide and hang a 90 degree right to the big slide. Make sure you slide down the right half of the slide to avoid the nasty vertical pins on the left side. The last ledge into a small pool can create a strong hydraulic. Very shortly (100-150 yds) the creek takes a sharp turn to the left and funnels down a 3-4 ft. wide slot. This is "The Undercut!" A large house foundation sized slab rock at least 50% undercut. Run as far left as possible. (up on the wall is my preferred route) The next 0.25 mile to Buck Branch is known as Cheesegrater. A long continuous shoal with several surf holes. At low water it feels like a your sliding down a cheesegrater. (At least your boat will be lighter for the carry out!). The final 2 miles down Buck Branch have many class III drops and several play spots. Take out just above Hurricane Creek at house beside the creek. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek will seem like a very technical Class III, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher levels, several rapids are expected to become solid Class V. Either way, because of the hazards, Boss Hollow should be treated with a lot of respect. Make sure you're ready for a serious run before putting in. (Thanks to Lance Jones for the description of this great Ozark creek!)
Rating: IV-V+ (P) TDCR: 9996 Location: Newton Co.; Put-in is near Mt. Sherman and Kyles Landing on Hwy. 74. You're looking for a dirt road leading steeply downhill roughly across from the road to Kyles Landing. It should go down quickly to some pastures and you want to stay right past a house on your right. Just past this the road turns ugly and only determined 4WD will make it to the bottom. About 150 yards downhill is an old abandoned shack of a house. Assemble gear here and then hike straight down the old road to the creek about 75 yards downhill. The takeout is reached by following the Mt. Sherman Cemetery Road south toward Diamond Cave. Park on the LEFT (creek) side of the road just upstream of the slab stream crossing. Do not block the driveway on right side. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Jasper, Parthenon Gradient: 250 fpm (1.25 mile @ >500 fpm) Length: 2.75 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Only runnable after extended heavy rainfall. Buffalo R. should be over 2 or 3 ft. over the Ponca bridge. Beech Cr. should have plenty of water. The creek should look flush with water at the takeout - unless it's raining, you'll lose most of the flow by the time you finish the run. Hazards: continuous severe rapids, unrunnable boulder sieves, numerous undercut rocks, keeper hydraulics, numerous strainers Description: Boulder is not your typical Ozark steep creek run. The vital statistics of the creek are sobering for paddlers. First, the gradient is amazing: 250 fpm average, but that includes a 60 fpm half mile at the end. The steepest part is found in a quarter mile near the end, known simply as The Falls, that drops almost 200 ft in that distance. The creek also lives up to its name; huge boulders abound creating nearly continuous and blind class IV-V rapids mixed with sieves of questionable runnability. And the watershed is large by Ozark standards - the lower two miles of the creek is fed by runnoff from almost four square miles of land. A trip down Boulder Cr. sets the paddler up for a full day of mental and physical stress testing that is unrivaled anywhere in the state (and few places in the country). The first attempt on the creek was made on 11/7/96 by Bill and Chanoy Herring and Kevin Fendley. A 3/4 mile section of the creek was completed before an injury forced the group to hike out of the gorge. The first successful run of the gorge happened during the memorable "Earth Day Floods" on April 23, 2004, when Zach Williams, Sean Ruggles, and Bill Herring completed the entire trip at an optimal level with around a dozen portages. This group knew the creek intimately after numerous pre-run hikes, but the trip still required more than 7 hours to complete - despite an early start, the takeout was reached just before nightfall. Hiking the creek dry before running it should be considered a requirement (hike from the takeout up, not the put-in down), and consideration should be given to identifying landmarks for scouts and portages in advance. The creek begins just below an old abandoned house as a tiny stream and immediately plunges over an angled fall with a bad landing, followed by a ledge into an undercut grotto. It looks a bit dicey, but the creek dishes out far worse for the next three miles - if the first drop gives you pause, a hike back to your vehicle is still an option. The rapids are typically class III with small eddies for the next third of a mile, with a few tricky spots thrown in for good measure. The Upper Gorge rears its ugly head when a large jumble blocks the stream under a pretty dripline bluff on the left. This drop feeds into a severely undercut boulder - scout with care. From here the creek alternates between bouts of relatively tranquil water and pure class V mayhem for the next quarter mile or so. If there aren't too many trees, it is all runnable, though questionable at times. Scouting is difficult but essential, and these rapids must be gotten through or around quickly since the water level is probably dropping out fast and there is a lot of creek left to boat. In the middle of this is maybe the biggest sheer drop on the creek - "Hang A Lefty". It's an 8-foot ledge onto a rock shelf on the right, but the current helps funnel you left into the undercut base of the drop - no worries! When you see/feel two tributaries kick in and the gradient slack up, be ready to get out. The "Strainer Strainer" is rock sieve through which not much will pass - portage right. Class III water provides some rest for the next quarter mile, and then the class IV+ "Pretzel" signals the start of the Lower Gorge. The bottom part of this rapid may not go at low levels. The infamous "Elbow" follows - a very long class V rapid consisting of multiple tricky ledges followed by a sharp turn into an ugly-looking hole. The only reasonable scout is from river right. The next half mile presents an almost constant barrage of long, complex, blind drops. This is a very intense section of water, but all drops are boatable under the right conditions. When the bottom looks like it is really starting to drop out, it is. This is "The Falls", so get out on either bank to scout and portage the next quarter mile. The long lead-in is solid class V (V+?) water that roughly ends at a drop called the "Pearly Gate" - a steep plunge between two boulders into a wicked looking hole. Past this is "Salvation Eddy", a semi-pool of water on the right bank. Failure to reach Salvation will result in a severe pummeling in the monster class VI cascade that follows. Even the hairiest of boaters will want to carefully consider this section - even just standing on the bank comptemplating the ramifications of an attempt at running this incredible chunk of gradient can be a quasi-religious experience. The carry down to the small pool below is not as bad as it first appears, and after the pool, a long, complex series of drops through boulders leads into the base of a large cliff with a cave in its base on river left. "Cliff Rapid" is just above the cliff, and unfortunately a large seive in the middle of the drop is not runnable except at very high levels. It's hard to see this without careful scouting, so make sure you see the entire rapid before committing to it. The class III-IV water after Cliff may seem easy by comparison, but don't relax too soon. Just When You Thought It Was Over, a tricky class IV+, comes in this stretch and another long, difficult rapid follows it. From here to Panther Creek is solid class III+ water with some holes to beware of (the worst is a ledge right at the confluence with Panther). Take a deep breath and paddle through fast class II-III water for the next third of a mile down to the takeout. Kiss the ground and walk up to run your shuttle. Boulder Cr. should obviously not be taken lightly. It is a serious, all-day undertaking suitable only for a team of well-prepared class V creek boaters. Dozens of class V drops must be run or portaged quickly, often without good bank scouting or support, since water levels drop quickly and virtually the whole creek can sieve out. Expect a great deal of serious hiking/climbing though jungles of poison ivy and you will not be disappointed!
Rating: IV-V TDCR: ???? Location: Newton Co.; Take Hwy. 43 north from Compton about 1/2 mile and take the dirt road on your right that's across from the fire station building. Head downhill for 2 miles on the dirt road until you reach a small creek crossing over a rock slab. If there's a lot of water covering the slab and it's moving really fast, you're good to go! Paddle down to Cecil Cr. about 1/4 mile down and then carry back up on the left side of Broadwater on the hiking trail that leads back to the put-in. The hike takes about 20-30 minutes dragging a kayak. Topo Quad(s): Ponca Gradient: 400 fpm Length: 0.25 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Only runnable immediately after very heavy rainfall. Look for 2+ inches in a couple of hours on the Compton rain gauge at the Buffalo National River site and drive fast!: LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: undercuts, downed trees, and one spine crushing drop Description: First run in the epic Earth Day Flood on April 24, 2004 by Fish, Otter, Zach Williams, Sean Ruggles, Amanda Boster, and Trey Marley, this is the premier Park-N-Creek run of the Ozarks. The access is simple and no shuttle is needed. Just jump in your boat and hang on - though scouting down the creek on the left trail is a good idea for first timers. The run starts with long slide that finishes with a seven foot spout that was first run by Sean Ruggles backwards after a tightly spaced group launch turned into an ugly traffic jam halfway down the slide. This author can attest to the rather surprised look in Sean's eyes as he disappeared into the froth! The drop's named "Clusterf**k" - watch out for the eddy on the left and if there's much water at all expect to get backendered. If you had fun, the carry back up to run it again is not hard at all. The next drop is one of the more visually impressive drops in the Ozarks. Nicknamed "Honcho", this twisting falls lands on a slab of limestone, making varying degrees of spinal abuse possible if not likely. Honcho is a solid class V drop, probably V+ at high water levels. It's easy to portage on the left, and unless you're feeling invincible that's probably the best route to the bottom. Next is another long slide at high speed and then a jumble of rocks that makes for a nice class III-IV drop. A couple of eddies lead over a class III+ entrance rapid and a tiny eddy above the lip of "Rock Slide". This 10-foot plunge over a house- sized boulder looks more intimidating from the entrance than it is, but there's relatively little room for error since it immeditately feeds into some rocks and then into the next series of drops. The next 100 yards of class IV-V water is the "Broadwater Boogie". A good scout and some strategic bank support can prevent minor mishaps from turning epic here. Depending on water level, you'll either be trying to speed up to boof or slow down to not get smashed into the rocks. There probably isn't a completely clean line down the whole thing, and well laid plans tend to unravel before the bottom eddy is reached. The next and final drop, "Big Ugly", is only runnable at very high water levels over the double drop in the center of the creek. Water flows through cracks in the huge rock making any line potentially hazardous. Scout from the rocks in the center, and if it doesn't look pleasant, just carry up the left bank to the trail. Cecil Creek lies at the bottom of Big Ugly - make sure you take out there or it will be a very long walk back to the car! If you get on the creek at high levels and run it quickly, you can go for round #2 if you have enough energy left, but expect a much bonier run unless it's pouring rain. Not running the first drop again would be a shame though - it boats well even with very low flow. Or, if you have a lot of time, head over for a chaser on Osage Cr., which should have plenty of water left! Broadwater is extremely steep and boaters should definitely be experienced at class V steep creekin' before launching a boat!
Rating: I-II TDCR: 1213 Location: North AR., Numerous put-ins and take outs are possible in the 130 miles of river in the National Park. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Boxley, Ponca, Jasper, Hasty, Mt. Judea, Eula, Western Grove, Snowball, Marshal, Maumee, Cozahome, Big Flat, Buffalo City Gradient: Boxley to Ponca: 20 fpm Ponca to Kyle's Landing: 15 fpm Rest of the river: less than 10 fpm Length: about 130 spectacularly beautiful miles! Season: ALL except very dry summer months Gauge: Readings can be obtained by calling the Corps at 501-324-5150. Levels for several locations are given. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: none Description: The Buffalo is the first U.S. National River. It is exceedingly rich in history and beauty. A discussion of this river is far beyond the scope of this humble document. Suffice it to say that it would be difficult to find a more spectacular river anywhere in the world. The whitewater is at its best in the spring on the upper sections from Boxley to Kyle's Landing. But the whitewater is not the primary reason to float this river. The towering, multi-colored bluffs, the clear, cool, green water, and the abundant wildlife (including some imported elk) are the main attractions. See Tom Kennon's guidebook "Ozark Whitewater" or one of the many books written about the Buffalo for more information on this fantastic river. If you catch the river at high water, check out the good kayak play run from Boxley to Ponca. This stretch is more challenging than the downstream sections, and it is the only one you can run when the Park Service closes the river due to high water.
Rating: I-II TDCR: 2113 Location: Faulkner and Cleburne Co.; Take Hwy. 65 north from Conway to Hwy. 310 (west of Guy). Take 310 northeast for a 2.5 mi. until you reach the bridge over the Cadron. Put in at this point. You can take out at Hwy. 65 bridge (3.5 miles downstream) or float down to the Hwy. 285 bridge south of Damascus. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Guy, Damascus Gradient: 10 fpm Length: 13.5 mi. Season: SPRING and FALL Gauge: Call Howard Elliot Outfitters at 501-679-5050. Hazards: minor strainer problems Description: This is a good run to catch after a good rain, and it's only 45 minutes from Little Rock. The river offers some good class II rapids in the first few miles, and at high levels there are some good surfing opportunities. Rent a canoe from Howard Elliot if you don't want to bring yours along and mess with the shuttle.
Rating: II+ TDCR: 4444 Location: Crawford Co.; Take Hwy. 282 west from I-540 to Rudy, then take the Hobbtown Rd. north from Rudy to Hobbtown. There is a put-in on the East Fork of Cedar Cr. at Hobbtown (adds about a mile to the run). To get to the West Fork of Cedar follow Hwy. 162 west from Hobbtown. Put in at the bridge. The take out is on the Frog Bayou in Rudy. Other put-ins/take-outs are possible on the many county roads in the area. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Rudy Gradient: 50 fpm Length: 7 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: The Frog Bayou should be probably be running at least 5 ft. for a run. Also there is a gauge is on the west side of the western most bridge abutment on Hwy 348. This gauge should be at least zero inches for a run on Cedar Cr. and 4 inches for a run on the West Fork or East Fork (above the confluence). There is also a gauge on the Hwy 162 bridge over the West Fork but it isn't graduated or calibrated. The gauge is located on the upstream side of the west bridge abutment. You need water to the bottom of that gauge to run the West Fork. Hazards: mostly strainers Description: This run is a fun class II to II+ run down a small, swift creek. Many different runs are possible. The most play oppoutunities can be found on the West Fork between the Hwy 162 bridge and the confluence with the East Fork. The surfing in this stretch is some of the best in the state, with continous waves and holes. The first major hole below the 162 bridge can be a boat keeper at high levels, so have a good plan for getting out before you get in. The East Fork can also be boated from the Hwy. down. It is a smaller, steeper stream, but it doesn't have the quality surfing spots of the West Fork. Watch out for an 8 foot high dam that must be portaged on the East Fork about a mile below the 162 bridge. Watch for strainers and trees that can be hazardous on most of the creek, but which are especially bad on the East Fork. Also beware of some barbed wire strands on the East Fork near a small low-water crossing. The bridge at the confluence of the East and West forks makes a good take out for the Fork runs or a good put in when the water is too low upstream. Drive to this bridge from Hobbtown Rd. (to the East of Cedar Cr.). The lower part of Cedar Cr. has many good rapids and playspots in the 5 miles to the Frog Bayou. It can often be boated when the West Fork and East Fork are too low to paddle. Cedar Cr. is a great alternative to a run on Lee Cr. and it is often running when Lee is running. Like Lee, the two miles of the West Fork of Cedar Cr. is a great afternoon play run. Thanks go to Charlie Stotts for information on this great play run.
Rating: II-III TDCR: 3333 Location: Crawford Co.; Take Hwy 71 north of I-40 to the Hwy 282 junction just north of Mountainburg. Take Hwy 282 west to Chester. Put in at the Hwy 282 bridge in Chester. (Park downstream river right just below the bridge.) Take out at Ash St. low water bridge in Mountainburg (see Frog Bayou, S1 for more info.) Area Map Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg Gradient: 30 - 40 fpm Length: 3 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: The USGS Frog Bayou gauge should be above 5 ft. for a good run. Another good indicator is less than 1 ft. of airspace under the Ash St. bridge. If there is more than 1 ft. of water over the bridge, the run will be dangerous due to extremely heavy water on the Frog. Hazards: mostly strainers and some heavy water on the Frog. Also beware of construction work for I-540 in several areas. At the time of this writing the creek passes through some culverts in three places and the areas are littered with rebar and other hazards. Description: The first two-thirds of this run is on Clear Cr. The boating in this section is fast paced with many good class II+ drops. The first surfing opportunity comes immediately below the put-in bridge where enders are possible at high levels. Another spectacular surfing wave resides less than 1/2 mile down as the creek bends sharply to the left. This portion of the creek is similar to Lee Cr., but it is much narrower. Beware of the areas near and under the three I-540 bridges, as these areas contain debris left over from highway construction. Also, beware of some protruding rebar on the river right side of a train trestle just below the third I-540 bridge. Just downstream of this trestle, a ledge in the middle of a class II rapid provides a great spot for surfing and 360 spins. After the confluence with the Frog Bayou at the end of the second mile, the character of the run changes completely. The paddler is now on a full sized river, and the flow triples. Heavy class II+ water is encountered for the next 3/4 mile until the take-out is reached. There are usually some bad strainers below the confluence, and the current can easily push an unprepared boater into them. The run is fairly fast, usually requiring less than two hrs. If you are more pressed for time, consider taking out or putting in at the upper I-540 bridge. Take care not to trespass on the banks since most of the land surrounding the creek is privately owned. Boaters should have very good boat control in class II-III rapids before putting on Clear Cr.
Rating: III-IV (V) TDCR: 6857 Location: Newton Co. Put in is reached from a county road 2 miles southwest of Deer on Hwy 16. Turn north on this road and follow it for approx. 4 miles to a house. ASK FOR PERMISSION TO ACCESS THE CREEK. Drag your boat 1 mile down an old logging road to the creek. Take out is reached by taking Shiloh Rd. east of Hwy. 21 just south of Mossville. Drive for 2 miles and take the right fork. Descend a steep hill for 4 miles to a wide low-water slab across the creek. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Swain, Murray Gradient: ??? Length: 8 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Water should be flowing over the Buffalo R. low water bridge at Ponca. Also, low water bridge at the take-out should be under water for an optimal run. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: strainers, Johnson's Squeeze (V) Description: The upper section of the EFLB, as it is locally known, is a classic Ozark creek run. At the confluence of Barberry Cr. the EFLB is a very small steep creek, but it picks up volume from three tributaries in the first mile and becomes a sizable creek run. Half Moon (III) is the first notable drop encountered followed by Johnson's Squeeze (V) where the creek is severely choked down. Portage Johnson's Squeeze on the left, and beware of entering the upper part of the drop accidentally. You may be forced to fight for your life in the Squeeze, as it's namesake, Jon Johnson, can attest to. Although it certainly is not recommended, the Squeeze has been a handfull of times with varying success. The first runs were on the right at very high water by Ryan Johnson (4/22/96), and then on the left crack side (2/21/97) by Mr. Johnson as well. Don't try this at home boys and girls. It's a definite hazard to life and limb at any level. Numerous class III and III+ rapids are encountered below the Squeeze and some of the best scenery in the Ozarks surrounds padders in this stretch. After this first gorge, the gradient relaxes a bit. When the creek looks like a blind jumble of boulders again, you're at the start of the class III-IV Second Gorge. It starts with a mean hole with a twisting approach nicknamed "Obliterator" - a name often deserved at high levels when the hole tends to efficiently separate boaters and gear. A rope here and a look at the lines are both good ideas. Drops are continuous and blind for the next quarter mile, and at high water the area is basically one long class IV+ rapid. It's fun, but it's serious fun - there are sieves and hazards lurking in many places, so stay on your toes. After the Second Gorge, the gradient again eases, but class III drops keep appearing. Just after a driveway crossing with a house and barn on the left, an easy class III drop leads to a short pool above "Swinging Bridge Drop." Just look for the old footbridge above the rapid. This begins the Third Gorge, about the same intensity and length as the Second, but with a very different personality. The hardest drops come at the end, and don't relax too soon, because a class III+ drop with a brusing landing zone appears after you think the gorge is over (there is a sneak to the left). There is a possible takeout point at a low water bridge about a mile below the Third Gorge, just past where Stepp Cr. enters from the left, or you can continue down to the Murray takeout. All boaters should have good creeking skills on class III-IV water before attempting the EFLB. It's one of the best runs around if you have the skills, but it's a long a bruising day if you don't! Thanks to Shelby Johnson for information on this run.
Rating: II * TDCR: 1332 Location: Madison County. Take Hwy 16 south from Durham, go approx. three miles, then the highway will curve to the left and go uphill. At top of the hill will be a gravel road to the left. The road is easy to recognize because it cuts through an exposed layer of red clay. Follow the road to the take-out (should be obvious). The turn for the put-in is approximately 1.75 miles down (South) of the highway from the turn-off for the take-out. Cross over one bridge, go up a hill then across another drainage then take the first left on a gravel road. The road is marked by a stop sign. Follow it to a bridge which is the put-in. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Durham Gradient: less than 20 fpm Length: 1.75 mi. Season: FALL, SPRING Gauge: No real gauge, but the Mulberry should be relatively high (> 4.5 ft.) for a good run. Hazards: Some strainers, bad hydraulics at high water levels Description: For some reason not many paddlers are aware of this run, probably because there are many more challenging runs up when this one is optimal. However it is a great afternoon float for paddlers near Fayetteville due to the short shuttle and the large watershed above the run which maintains a floatable level for up to a week after a good rain. It is a good training run for beginners, offering several chances to practice eddy hopping and ferrying. When the river begins to turn to the left and a tributary enters on the right, the river channel begins to narrow signaling the proximity of Flat Rock Rapid. This rapid begins as a chute flowing over a ledge that creates some nice surfing waves, then it opens up and flows over sandstone bedrock creating mucho surfing waves. At the bottom of the rapid the bedrock ends and creates more waves and turbulence. The short pool just past the trough is great for recovery. There is a short class II- rapid just below Flat Rock Rapid, which, unfortunately, signals the end of the run. Paddle through a long pool to the take-out. Thanks to Steve Robertson for information on this run.
Rating: II-IV TDCR: 5666 Location: Washington and Crawford Co.; Take Hwy 71 north from I-40 to West Fork, then take Hwy 170 south and then Hwy 265 west to Strickler. Put in at Hwy 265 bridge at Strickler. Take out at low water bridge on Hwy 220 (dirt road) south of Devil's Den State Park. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Strickler, Rudy NE Gradient: 50 fpm (80 fpm. in first 2.5 miles) Length: 12 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: The bridge at the takeout near Lee Cr. should have water flowing over it for a minimal run. More than 1.5 ft of water over this bridge will make for a class IV run in the upper six miles. The USGS gauge for Baron Fork at Dutch Mills is also a good predictor for this run. It should be over 4.0 ft. for a run on Fall Cr. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: hydraulics, strainers, barbed wire (2 fences at end of 6th mile), undercuts Description: This creek was first run by Steve Robertson and crew in open boats in May 1995. The lower 6 miles were run in Jan. 1993 by Bill and Chanoy Herring. The first 4 miles are the toughest, containing many class III+ drops in a very narrow stream bed. "Threes with trees" is the best way to describe this dangerous stretch. At high water there are very few eddies and no pools to recover in. Some of the more notable rapids include Introduction (III) just below the put-in bridge, Poke in the Eye (III) about 2.5 miles into the run, and Hal's Falls (III) at mile 5.0 which sports a terminal, river- wide hydraulic at higher levels. 1/2 mile below Hal's Falls watch out for two mean strands of barbed wire that span the creek. The first fence appears at the end of a rapid where water pillows off of several car sized rocks in the middle of the stream. It is best portaged on the right. The second fence follows about 1/4 mile after the first, just as a large overhanging bluff on river left ends. Portage on the left. These fences are extremely dangerous and difficult to spot from upstream. Also there are barbed wire strands in the creek between the two fences. Stay near the left bank to avoid these strands. Though it's tempting, do not attempt to cut or move these fences. The landowner is within his rights to have them there, and he could cause major trouble for boaters if his property is destroyed. Also beware of the potential for strainers that can block the entire creek in many places. Plan on portaging at least a few times. The gradient lessens in the last half of the run providing more time to recover, but there are still many trees in the fast current so stay on your toes. You may want to put on early, because it can easily take you more than six hours to run the 12 miles, and more time can easily be consumed unpinning wayward boats and paddlers. All boaters should be confident on fast class III-IV water and familiar with strainer hazards before attempting Fall Cr.
Rating: III TDCR: 4562 Location: Pope and Searcy Co.; Take Hwy. 65 north of Conway from I-40 and then Hwy. 16 west of Clinton to Ben Hur then north on NFR 1205. Numerous put-ins and take-outs availible off of NFR 1205. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Smyrna, Moore Gradient: 60+ fpm Length: 6 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: The gauge at Richland Cr. should be between 12 and 0 inches of airspace. You may also be able to determine the approximate level using the Buffalo R. river and rain gauges which are linked below. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: strainers, Falling Water Falls Description: A tributary to Richland Cr., Falling Water is a great whitewater run in its own right. It's packed full of terrific scenery and some great drops, most notably Falling Water Falls, a sheer 10 footer 6 miles upstream of the Richland confluence. Much of the creek can be scouted from the road that parallels it 80% of the time. The stream bed is extremely narrow in the first 3 miles, and at high water the class III rapids tend to come at you very fast with few eddies to scout from. Watch out for the ever present deadfalls that can make you wish you'd worn some hiking boots. While not as punishing as Richland's gorge, Falling Water is more technical and all boaters should be strong intermediates. In high water, be an expert boater and hold onto your hat!
Rating: III-V * TDCR: ???? Location: Put-in: Go North on Hwy 123 at Lurton to Spence Junction. To the right is a dirt road which is the way to Richland. There is a large pond on the left (this is the headwaters to Falls Branch) Go North on Hwy 123 for ~1.25 miles to the next dirt road on the right. (Shulers Point) Go ~0.7 miles on this road to a parking area in front of a burmed road on the right. Drag South down the old roadbed to a field and then down from the left (East) edge of the field to the creek. Target is just above the junction of the two upper branches where the old roadbed crosses. (Elevation 1830) Reach the take-out by going back to Spence Junction and heading East on the dirt road. Take lefts at the two major intersections and head North on FR 1200 down the mountain toward Bass. Park on the side of the road near the low water bridge. (Elevation 890) The Shulers Point road does go down the hill to the confluence of Falls Branch and Cave Creek, but the FS gated it in the summer of 2001. But it could be used as an emergency access. Topo Quad(s): Lurton Gradient: 150 fpm, (300+ fpm max) Length: 9 mi (4 on Falls Branch) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Gage at Richland Campground should to be above 6 or headed that way. Look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer, Ben Hur and Mt. Judea rain gages, at the BNR Data Page. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. If the Pond at Spence Junction is spilling lots of water, it should be a run! Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. Description: First known descent was April 22, 1996. By Cowper Chadbourn, Chris Anderson, Howard Elliot, Walter Felton (OC-1), Bob Hoffman, Lance Jones, Nate Kline, Robert Orr, Ted Smethers and Billy Williams. Falls Branch is a 4.5-mile run down to Cave Creek, with and average gradient of 150 ft/mile, the first mile being 300 ft/mile. Due to closure of the 4WD road to the confluence, an additional 4-5 mile paddle to the community of Bass is required. The creek starts out on bedrock with a short slide followed by a 10-12 foot waterfall just below the confluence of the upper forks. There is a large rock in the left center of the drop and a narrow line to land in just right of center. Exit through one of two slots and over a 6-foot waterfall. Now get ready for lots of action with very tight slots and boulder jumbles. Little bedrock is encountered for the next 0.25 miles. Many of the boulder jumbles offer pin and undercut dangers compounded with possible wood. Note: the first run occurred after a series of wind storms resulting in a very large number of trees down across the creek. Portaging these trees was a major chore and led to the renaming of the creek by the paddlers as 'Dead' Falls Branch. Most of the drops were run. Once the bedrock returns, have fun on the first couple of slides but be on the lookout for the point where the slide takes a sharp turn to the left in front of a large boulder. This is 'Nate's Falls'. The drop is entirely on bedrock, but two undercut boulders add some spice. Start with the entrance turn to the left followed by a tight turn to the right through a slot. The large boulder on the left bank is undercut and may collect wood. Main route is to exit far right and cut back left before dropping 10-12 feet through a tight slot requiring a hard turn back to the right. The crux is not pinning on the undercut boulder forming the right side of the slot. Optional route (water level and wood/debris dependent) is a straight line through a slot between the boulders and down through the final slot. Several more boulder jumbles and slides are encountered shortly, topped off by a slot move into a steep 12-15 foot slide drop into a grotto pool. Fast class II-III water takes you from the next mile or so from the tribuary on the right. Two small ledge drops signal the approach of 'Surprise Turn'. The creek takes a hard turn to the left as it drops between two boulders. As you enter the white foaming maelstrom, you think "This is going to be ugly!" But the foam is suprisingly forgiving and you shoot out with a big smile. Stay to the center/left and away from the undercut wall on the right and line up for the next 5-6ft drop. Fast boogie water takes you to the confluence with Cave Creek as the gradient starts to subside. 80-100 ft/mile gradient continues downstream to the takeout on FR 1200. Be aware of strainers and willow jungles in this section. A road parallels the creek if needed for portaging. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek may seem like a very technical class III, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher levels, several rapids are expected to become solid class V. In any case, paddlers need to be very familliar with the hazards of small, steep Arkansas creeks before attempting this run. Thanks to Lance Jones for information about this great creek!
Rating: IV-V TDCR: 9895 Location: Take out on Little Mill Cr. at the low water slab. Put in is reached by heading north to Fern. Go past Fern and turn off the pavement on the first gravel road to the south (this road has a stop sign on it). Follow the road downhill until the road does a couple of semi-switchbacks. You'll have already passed one pretty good road to the right, and you're looking for the next one past the switchbacks. If you go just past the road, you'll end up in a wide turn around where the hunters like to camp, so if you get there, turn back and take the first left. Follow the steep little road downhill (4WD only!) until it switches back to the left at a small creek. Go another 100 yards or so and look for the rock-lined trail going down to the right. The creek put-in is about 30 yards down this trail. If you don't have 4WD, park up at the main gravel road and walk down from there. An alternate, but unpleasant, takeout if you're running short on time is to carry back up the old logging road that intersects the creek just past Rocket Slide. (Actually there are old logging roads on the ridgetops on either side of the creek all the way down.) This road goes up through a split in the bluff and then into a clear cut. Bear left and uphill and you can drag up to the put-in in about 45 minutes. It's a heck of a climb though! Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg SE Gradient: 300 fpm (0.5 mi @ 400 fpm) Length: 4 mi (2.75 miles on Little Mill Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Mulberry should be huge (10 feet) and rising on the USGS gauge at Mulberry to have a chance at Fern Gulley. The watershed is small and the creek is full of rocks - it needs a lot of water to make a good run. Little Mill Cr. should almost be covering all of the concrete of the slab at the takeout. The best way to find out whether it will run or not is to drive to the put-in, walk 30 yards to the creek and check it. Ideally, there should be enough water to form a rowdy looking hole at the base of the first 6-foot drop and the rocks in the main current should be mostly covered. Unless it's raining, the water will be dropping fast, so take this into consideration before putting on at a really boney looking level. If you just see lots of huge holes and no rocks, you probably should either wait for the water to drop or go find another creek! Hazards: Rapids are big, continuous, and dangerous. This is no place for the unprepared. Pins are possible almost everywhere. Full- face helmets and elbow pads are an excellent idea. Description: Fern Gulley is the name given to the East Fork of Little Mill Cr. by the local folks in Franklin Co. This creek is the jewel of steep creeking in the southern Ozarks. When full of water, it is easily one of the most difficult creeks in the state. The creek features large, continuous drops with almost no really good eddies. The run stays at a class IV intensity level all the way, with no real breaks and some notable class V interuptions. The lack of good eddies makes it feel even steeper than its 300 fpm average gradient figure (if that's possible), throwing at paddlers a constant barage of steep rapids that seem to blend into each other for long stretches. The creek begs for bank scouting at every turn, but since the water level tends to drop out quickly, you can't spend too much time on the banks. A pre-run hike is very highly recommended. The first drop is called simply "The Test". Those who fail to pass this class IV warm up, are urged to consider walking back up to the car. The next half mile of water is exactly the same - and then it gets much tougher. Somewhere in the first quarter mile is a drop called "Rooster Poot" (IV). This one looks like the rest, but it ends in an ugly looking rooster tail. Portage on the right if you can get stopped and don't want to risk a pin, or try to angle right to avoid getting slammed into the rocks. The first class V is encountered about 1/3 mile from the put-in, just past the second major tributary stream cascading in on the left. "Dumb and Dumber" is an ugly drop where the creek is split by a big rock. The left side of this eight foot plunge drops onto a roostertail rock and the right side dumps under a huge rock. The approach is (as always) almost eddyless - only boat what you can clearly see after Rooster Poot! At Dumb and Dumber, go ahead and scout the next big class IV, "Whack-A-Yaker". This is a big, twisting drop that dumps out under a tree at the end. This one can mess with you - for some reason it doesn't run as cleanly as it looks. The creek lets up a bit at this point to a continuous class III slalom through trees. When the creek turns back to the left, watch for a major tree jam that requires a portage. Just past these trees the creek gets very serious, so you might as well stay on the banks and scout the next 200 yards. This is the start of "The Drop Zone", and you won't want to enter it blind. The left bank is really rocky, but it provides the best look at the drops. The right bank is much easier for portaging boats. The Drop Zone consists of a 200 yard long staircase of fast, tough drops and tricky holes that run headlong into each other creating a solid class V rapid. There is no room for error when paddling this rapid - this author can attest to the beating that these drops can inflict upon those who are not on line! The Drop Zone can conceivably be broken down into four parts seperated by hard to catch eddies. The first part is a long, multi-stage drop with plenty of rocks and holes. You can then try to grab one of the small eddies - the last good ones you'll see for a while - on either bank to stop before part two of the Zone, known as "The Split". This is a tough, pushy drop that is sometimes run to the left of the pillowing rock, pulling hard right at the end to line up for the three remaining ledge holes. Another unstable eddy on the right preceeds part three - "Damned If You Do". The creek twists left and drops about 10 feet into two big holes before shooting out over a couple of interesting looking drops around the corner. A small, last chance eddy then appears just above the final plunge - "Big Juju". Juju is a massive drop and the route is complex and dangerous. A diagonal hole sits between the eddy and the most feasible route on the left, so expect it to kick you on the approach. If you are one of the few who choose to test their luck in Juju, try to precisely boof the first eight-foot drop to avoid the vertical pin on the left and the pin rocks in the middle of the drop. Assuming you are still upright and moving forward after you clear the first rocks, you will hopefully carry enough speed into the final hole to escape from it. If you're determined to run the Drop Zone, set up bank support in strategic locations and scout everything thoroughly. If you think this is nice scenery but not runnable whitewater, carry your boat around it high on the right bank. Below Juju, the class IV drops keep comming. There are a couple of large trees down in this stretch as well, and they probably won't move anytime soon. After three or four tricky class IV drops that should generally be run to the right, a long slide starts. It's a good idea to get out after the second drop below Juju and scout it, since a downed tree near the bottom would likely knock your head off your shoulders. This one is nicknamed the "Rocket Slide", because you'll tend to launch into the air off of the vertical ledges in the middle of the slide. Brace for the curler as you drop into the funneling plunge at the end, and don't forget to smile for the camera! Rocket Slide is not that hard if you can avoid getting upside down (ouch!) or surfed in the hole at the bottom. It's hard to believe that any hole will stop you when you're moving 25 miles per hour, but it is a possibility! The next 400 yards of the creek is non-stop class III+ through trees. If you haven't hiked out yet, you shouldn't have any trouble boat scouting down this stretch. It may look strange, but you'll finally see a small pool up ahead. Welcome to Little Mill Cr. Stop and take a few breaths and get ready for nearly three more miles of powerful class III-IV drops before you reach the take-out. The first two major drops both feature big, sticky holes at this level, so stay on your toes. If you run Fern Gulley at below optimal levels, you may not be too impressed by the rock bashing and sieve portaging. Running it with too much water will force you into situations you don't want to be in. The window for optimal levels is small, and even then, the creek is no place for those who overestimate their skills. Hike this one dry, and then follow someone who knows the creek if you can. Fern Gulley was first run on March 19, 2002 by Otter (aka Jason Bertschy), Mike Echols, Rob Polan, Danny Smith, Nick Hobbs, "Crazy" Steve Brandenbura, and Fish (aka Bill Herring), and they have the pictures to prove it!
Rating: I TDCR: 1111 Location: The playspot is on the Illinois R. south of Siloam Springs. Follow Hwy 16 West toward Siloam and turn on Hwy 244 West a short time after you pass Lake Wedington. Follow 244 for a couple of miles or so and take Cincinati Cr. Rd., a gravel road, to the north. You can look for the old, white "Nicodemus Church" sign that is mostly hidden by bushes at this turnoff. The Hwy 244 bridge over Cincinati Cr., a medium sized creekbed with a gravel bottom, is just past the turn you need to make, so if you cross it, you've gone a bit too far. If you reach Hwy 59, you've gone a little over a mile too far. Follow the gravel road north about a mile, and you'll come to an intersection. Go straight on what is now Fishers Ford Rd. The road makes a few bends, but just keep following it north toward the river. When you come to the old metal bridge, park on the river left, upstream of the bridge and be sure to pull off the road. Don't block the little road leading down to the river by the bridge, since local fishermen use it to lauch johnboats. Unload and walk down to the river and put in and paddle down about 100 yards to the ledge. When you're finished playing, either paddle or walk back up the streambed to get back to the bridge. Please respect landowners' rights around this spot, and DON'T TRESPASS on the river banks at the ledge, which are clearly posted. Ask permission from the landowner in advance if you want to walk through the field to reach the playspot. It's a long URL, and it may change, but you can follow this link to get a MapBlast map of the area. Zoom out on it to see how to come in from Fayetteville or other towns. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: N/A (just one rapid) Length: N/A (100 yards to the rapid) Season: ALL Gauge: The USGS gauge on the Illinois R. at Siloam Springs should be higher than 3.0 feet - but it always is. If the gauge is over 5.0 feet, the river is flooding and the water quality is about as bad as you can imagine. Due to heavy agricultural runoff, it's best to wait a couple of days after heavy rains before venturing out into the Illinois R. Hazards: None. A big pool will catch wayward boaters at all but the highest levels. Description: This is the only summertime play spot for Northwest Arkansas. If you don't go expecting a big rapid, you won't be disappointed. But it is the only game in town in the dry summer months, and the water is never to low to have some fun and get a workout. It's actually a great spot for beginners to hone their skills and practice rolls, ferries, catching eddies, surfing, etc. It's about the least threatening rapid in the state. The wave/hole varies with natural water flow. At lower levels, a small wave and some decent squirt lines are the attractions. With more water, a small hole forms that can be side surfed. With even more water a larger wave/hole appears and the well defined eddy lines vanish. At the highest water levels, there is still a wave, but the rapid is an e-coli mixing vat, due to a large amount of agricultural waste runoff following heavy rains. Be sure to carry or paddle back up the streambed to the bridge when you're finished playing. The local landowners like their privacy, and have posted the fields around the river. Some will give you permission to cross the fields if you ask in advance, but if you don't have permission, they're probably not going to be happy when they catch you. Please help promote good relationships with local landowners by not blocking roads or paths with your vehicle and by not trespassing on streamside property.
Rating: II TDCR: 2214 Location: Crawford Co.; S1: Put in at Ash St. low water bridge in Mountainburg; Take out at Silver Bridge at Hwy. 282 south of Mountainburg. S2: Take out at Grotto (next Hwy. 282 low water bridge south of Mountainburg. S3: Take out at Lancaster low water bridge (next low water bridge going south of Grotto). S4: Take out at Hwy. 282 bridge at Rudy. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg, Mountainburg SW, Rudy Gradient: less than 20 fpm Length: S1: 3.5 mi. S2: 6.5 mi. S3: 3.5 mi. S4: 8 mi. Season: FALL, SPRING Gauge: Look for the USGS gauge at Rudy to be between 2.7 and 5.0 feet for a good run. Hazards: watch out for downed trees and strainers Description: The Frog is an excellent class II run in the southern Ozarks. The river stays at a runnable level for much of the fall and spring and features a steady diet of class II and II+ drops that will challenge beginning boaters. All of the sections from Mountainburg down have some great rapids and all have the potential for tree strainers to fall into the river, so watch out for those hazards. The banks of the Frog are almost all private property, so treat the land and landowners with respect. At high water levels, the Frog can be run above L. Fort Smith, and Clear Cr. is another challenging high water option, but such runs are relatively rare. The stream can also be run below Rudy, where it is a slower class I-II float. The section that draws the most boaters is the section from Lancaster low water bridge to Rudy (sometimes called the "Ribbit Run"). The class II rapids in this stretch are long, twisting, and closely spaced, making it one of the best stretches of beginner- intermediate paddling in the state. Also, at most levels surfing and play opportunities for advanced paddlers abound. The first ledge below the Lancaster put-in is a great surfing spot where paddlers tend to wear themselves out before they even start the run. Waterfall Drop is just around the corner, a good example of the surprisingly beautiful scenery on this part of the creek. When a bluff bends the river back to the left, watch for a series of fast rapids finishing with "The Pourover". Powerful cross currents, rocks, and holes make the rapid a challenging class II+ run at most levels and kayakers can get vertical in the two pourover spots at lower levels (between 2.9 and 3.3 feet is best for the upper rock and 3.5 - 3.8 is good for the lower one). Railroad Trestle #1 just downstream features very friendly surfing waves and holes at all but the highest levels. Plenty more good rapids follow: Five Eddies, Railroad Trestle #2, Rapid Transit, Squirter's Eddy, and finally Canyon Rapids (aka "Invisible Rock"). This last one is less than a half-mile from the takeout in Rudy, and it features one of the most difficult to see pourover rocks in the state. Most of the action can be missed by staying far left, and the run down the right side is for would-be heros only! Don't let the "Bayou" in the name fool you - the Frog is as good a class II whitewater run as you will find!
Rating: III-IV * TDCR: ???? Location: Pope Co., The close proximity to I-40 and 4 mi. shuttle make this one of the easiest creek shuttles in Arkansas. Go north off I-40 (exit 88) at Pottsville (just East of Russellville) on Crow Mtn. Rd. (Hwy. 363). Proceed up the mountain 2.3 mi. The Bridge is unmarked but would be hard to miss. There is not a lot of parking so plan accordingly. Take out at Galla Lake by going back down the mountain and turning west on Hwy. 64 into Pottsville. Go 1 mi., then turn north and follow Galla Park Rd. to the lake. The park gates close at 4:30p.m. Alternative take out would require a carry around the dam and a short paddle in the dam outflow to I-40/Hwy.64. Galla Creek can be run in 1.5 to 2 hours including shuttle. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Russellville East Gradient: 92 fpm (last mile before lake drops 140 fpm) Length: 3.15 mi. (last .75 mi on the lake) Season: FLOOD Gauge: No gauge. Generally would require at least 2.5 in. of rain in Russellville. If there appears to be enough water at the put-in, there should adequate water downstream because there are several small branches that enter downstream. Hazards: The major hazards are trees. Several of the rapids require maneuvering thru trees in class III situations. Some of the drops are semi-blind with slots. Deadfalls are common. Description: Galla Cr. was first run in April 1992 by Charles Chevaillier and Bob Silkensen and then again in May 1995 after a 4 inch rain by David Wilbanks and Dale Barton of the Russellville area. The second run was in November 1996 after a 2.8in. rain. The total drop is 220 ft. The initial 2/3 mi. drops 60 ft. and is mainly characterized by fast water through trees, but the visibility downstream is fairly good. At one point the creek bends left and under a tree which has grown from the left bank onto a rock in the middle of the bend; portage on the left. The next mile drops 140 ft and is very similar to a smaller, steeper Richland Creek with trees. The canyon gets noticeably deeper and several waterfalls and small streams enter. It is difficult to believe that you are only about a half mile from the interstate! There are several class III rapids in this section and a couple of IV's. One (Boof Lube) has a tricky class III entry, followed by a tight line right through some trees, over a small hole, slide left, and a quick 7 ft. boof right into poorly padded, fast water (whew!). The bottom portion of the creek still has several class III drops and a few require some must make slot moves. The action only stops at the lake. Thanks go to Dale Barton for the description of this great little creek run!
Rating: III+ (IV+) * TDCR: ???? Location: Pope County; From Hwy 7, take Hwy 164 to Twin Bridges (Moore Outdoors), cross Big Piney, and turn right on 1800 (Pilot Rock Road). Turn right again on 1800A. When road changes from graded gravel to "4WD", continue down hill to just past the first hairpin; park and drag boat downhill about 1/2 mile going due West. Goal is the where two forks of the creek join at about Elevation 790 feet. Two options exist for take out; either continue down this same road until you first see Graves Creek (take out #1), or take out at Long Pool on the Big Piney (take out #2). Area Map Topo Quad(s): Treat Gradient: 106 fpm (not counting Big Piney) Length: 1.9 mi (plus 5.4 miles if you go to Long Pool) Season: RAIN Gauge: Can't be gauged by comparison to Piney. Has been run both with Piney at 4 ft and with Piney above 17 ft. Look for about 1.5" or more of rain within the last 6 to 12 hours. Rain gage exists at Twin Bridges; can be accessed via ACC Bulletin Board. Hazards: numerous strainers, undercuts (especially in one small box canyon) Description: The lower section (below Take out #1) was probably first run years ago by Kerry Moore, Dale Barton, and/or other locals, and has been used by Kerry as an alternate put-in for rescue work on the Big Piney run. The first known run of the upper section was Nov. 5, 1994, by a small army consisting of Paul Caldwell, Cowper Chadbourn, Nathan Kline, Chris Jones, Jim McDaniel, Paul Newton (OC-1), Ted Smethers, and David Wilbanks. This run is worth doing for the scenery alone, with many beautiful waterfalls coming in from either side, including a very spectacular one at "Amphitheater". The gradient is generally evenly distributed along the run, with one notable exception at "Amphitheater". Just after you run the first 8 foot waterfall, beware The next drop after this waterfall contains a hidden shelf rock and a nasty undercut rock/bluff, and as of late 1995 had only been run one time at a lower level (by Nathan). All boaters should be confident on steep class III+ water, or you should opt for a run on the Piney instead. Thanks go to Copwer Chadbourn for information on this run.
Rating: II to III+ TDCR: 4548 Location: Newton Co.; put in at NFR 1463 crossing 1.2 mi N. of Fallsville on Hwy 21; take out at the Hwy 21 bridge over the Buffalo R. at Boxley, AR Area Map Topo Quad(s): Fallsville, Boxley Gradient: 40 fpm Length: 14 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: 10 in airspace to 1.5 ft. over the low water bridge over the Buffalo R. at Ponca AR. Call BOC at 1-800-221-5514 for a reading. (Rating is a solid III+ at levels over 1 foot over the Ponca bridge.) You can also predict the levels using the Buffalo R. river and rain gauges which are linked below. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: strainers, remoteness and length of run Description: This is the major tributary to the upper Buffalo R. It is possibly the ultimate Arkansas wilderness run. 14 miles of nothing but you, the river, and the mountains. The rating easily goes up several notches in high water. The remoteness of the creek makes rescue a very difficult proposition, but mistakes can easily result in damaged equipment or people. Be sure you have lots of time to make it to the takeout. It often takes more than six hours to run the 14 miles. One particularly dangerous spot occurs about halfway down the run. A class II rapid leads into an undercut cave on the left bank, and a significant portion of the river disappears into this cave. There have been some close calls at this spot where boaters have been swept into the cave and gotten stuck on debris. At high water this cave could be a killer. Watch for it, and scout anything you can't see until you get past this point. Make sure you have solid intermediate whitewater skills and plenty of experience on other Ozark creeks before attempting the Hailstone.
Rating: III-IV (V) TDCR: 8785 Location: The take-out is at the popular Hwy 220 bridge over Lee Cr. (the put-in for section 2 of Lee). To get to the put-in take Hwy 220 south (the paved side) until you almost reach the top of the hill. Turn off on the first major dirt road to the left. This is the road that goes from Hwy. 220 to Chester and Hwy. 71. Follow this road for approx. 4 mi. until it parallels the Hart Cr. drainage. There is a large clear cut on the left that is barely visible from the road. It is easiest to hike down to the creek on the west side of the clear cut (left if you are on the road facing the creek). There are a few small turnouts on the side of the road opposite the creek that are good for parking. Be careful not to block any of the small dirt roads. Make sure that you carry down near the clear cut area, because the land there is owned by the USFS. All surrounding land is private. Another way to determine the proper location is to drive all the way to the first four way intersection. When you get there, turn around and drive about a mile back toward Lee before carrying down. The carry is a short, steep brushwhack that will take about 15 min. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Rudy NE Gradient: 200 fpm (1/2 mile @ 300 fpm) Length: 4 mi. (counting 2.25 miles on Lee Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Recent (within a few hours) and heavy (2+ inches) rains are a must for a good run. There are two ways to try to estimate the flow on Hart Cr. Neither is particularly accurate. Lee Cr. should probably be reaching flood stage (about 12+ ft). Also, Clear Cr. and its tributary McCaslin Br. near Chester should be very big and muddy. The only way to really be sure is to hike to the put-in. The put-in can look a little low and you'll still have a good run. If you can't boat at all at the put-in, the run will be too bony. Hazards: barbed wire fence (2/3 mile into the run), severe undercuts, boulder sieves, dangerous rapids, trees, trees, and more trees Description: The creek was first run 2/27/97 by a small determined group of paddlers including Noah Fraiser, Kevin Fendley, and Bill Herring. The level for the first run was quite low, but all rapids were successfully completed (with much scooting and dragging in the first 1/2 mile). A second run at a much higher level was made in January of 1998 by Bill Herring and Noah Fraiser. The creek starts out as an extremely small stream, even by Ozark standards. The first 3/4 mile consists of non-stop, straightforward class III- action in a 10 to 15 ft. stream bed. Much of this stretch is surprisingly clear of trees, but there are a few nasty strainers so stay alert. Many times the creek is tightly constricted (5 to 10 ft) for long stretches. This is fast, heads-up boating with little chance of catching eddies. Fortunately, the water is usually shallow and not very pushy. About 2/3 mile into the run you will drop into a very narrow bedrock sluice followed by a large island. Pull out at the top of this island to carry across the barbed wire strands at the end of the island. The current is fast under this fence, and the approach is devoid of good eddies, so be sure to get stopped in time. After this point you are on private land, so treat the land with respect (and please don't even think about cutting the fence!). A short distance past the fence, a large tributary enters from the right. The flow is doubled and begins to get quite pushy. The first big class III below this tributary (named Pacemaker) marks the start of the hard stuff. In the next 1/2 mile all hell breaks loose as the creek plunges continuously around, over, and through large boulders as it drops 150 ft. After a brief warm up you'll run into Hart Attack, a big class V jumble that blocks all downstream visibility. This rapid has been run, but the landing is extremely cluttered. If you choose to run it, try to angle from left to right to avoid a vertical pin on the left. The current pushes to the right at the top of the drop, so use this to your advantage. If you choose to walk it, drag up and over the left bank. Hart Attack is immediately followed by a series of tricky ledges, nicknamed Defibrillator, that lead into a blind, class IV- sluice called Nitro. This one is impressive at almost any water level, but, if the water is high, it will be the most memorable rapid on the creek. The creek is funneled down a narrow chute on the left until it plunges six feet into a shallow pool. It's hard to stay in control comming out of Nitro, but you need to regain your composure quickly because you'll be flushed through some class III ledges below it before the creek slows down. The next 1/2 mile is non-stop class III+ action. You may find yourself moving too fast in the narrow stream with no way to slow down. Scout as frequently as you can to avoid getting buried under one of the undercuts or strainers that occur frequently in this stretch. The individual rapids are not too nasty, but with a lot of water, it's hard to slow down and run the complex class III drops one at a time. After you come out of the hairy stuff, you still need to be on your toes for the 1/2 mile paddle to Lee Cr. The creek splits in a few places, but staying to the right should keep you in the clearer part of the stream. Once you hit Lee Cr., you're in for some big water. Watch for some big hydraulics (particularly a class V river-wide ledge just below the Hart Cr. confluence that can be skirted on the far left) and one very bad willow jungle before you reach the 220 bridge. Hart is a tough run, but it is mercifully short. Still, give yourself three or more hours to allow for a lot of time to be consumed by scouting, portaging, and unpinning boats. Also, take extra gear and a saw if you can. The gorge is extremely hard on equipment (a broken paddle resulted from the first run) as well as bodies. Obviously this is an experts-only creek run, and even the experts would be well advised to check it out on foot before attempting it in a boat.
Rating: II+-III * TDCR: 4450 Location: Put in below Bowman creek or anywhere along road. Bowman creek comes into Haw creek about 2.5 miles from Haw creek campground. It enters on river right. You can see Bowman creek on the left as you drive up highway 123. Take out- Haw creek campground crossing, or any spot along the creek. Topo Quad(s): Rosetta, Ft. Douglas Gradient: 48 fpm Length: 2.5 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Piney, Richland, Hailstone, little piney should all be in flood. There should be over 3 inches of rain at Deer in the past 48 hrs for a good run. At the campground, the crossing marks should have water one ft from the top for an optimal run. Above that, the creek will get pushier, faster and less room for error exists. You can see if thereís enough water by just looking at the creek. Hazards: log jams, blind drops, ledges and holes to avoid Description: This run would be good for boaters comfortable on Falling Water Cr. or Lower Richland. It is a small creek with good water volume, good ferrying, eddying hopping, and water reading skills are a must. When all the creeks are in flood, Haw Cr. is a good choice for intermediate boaters. It is short, close to the road, and can be scouted easily. Normally a class II+ to III run, if the creek is really pumping, then all bets are off. Across the road from Bowman creek, you can brush crash to a nice little ledge to put in. The creek could be run father up, but it gets tighter and bonier. Below the put-in are a couple of ledges that should be run to the right. Most of the rapids are best run far right or far left. There are a number of ledges with holes below them. Soon you'll find a double ledge that should be run to the left over the first and then ferried right over the second. Below this, there is a sharp ledge across the entire creek. Run it to the far right. You will see a shale rock sticking up on to a tree in the water below the ledge. We ran to the right of it. There is another hole below that can be skirted on far right or left. Left seems to have less brush. By now the road will be rising to river right with a noticeable cliff face. There is a waterfall on the right off of the shale bluff. Enter the rapid here to the left and work down. After the water fall, there is a class II+ drop that should be scouted. The creek is split by a tree with a ledge. Run to the left, follow the tongue, and move right to avoid the flat rock below. There is some more good stuff below, but eventually youíll get to a flat spot where the creek splits into two channels. You should also see the road again. Take the right channel, work down and go under the bridge to the right. There is another ledge and hole below the bridge - it can be run to the far right. The channel squeezes in again here and thereís willows, so be on your toes. A significant double drop/hole known as "Small Juju" can be run to the far right. Go right before the boulder in the middle of the channel and hug the right bank. Or run left into the holes if you dare! From this point, itís about 50 yds to the confluence of Gee Creek. Gee creek should double the volume of the water. From here on out, it rocks and rolls! A few yards below Gee creek, thereís a good wave series with a hole at the bottom. Run to the left to avoid the hole. You should see the campground crossing soon below. Below the campground crossing thereís a long rapid that looks like a flume. You should see the campground to your right below this. Haw Creek Falls is next. At an optimal level, the drops can be run to the right to avoid the second drop. At higher levels, who knows? Once you come around the left bend, you will be entering "Big Juju" (IV? V?). This rapid is a sight to behold! Thereís a sharp diagonal ledge at the top, immediately followed by a mushroom rock below it. The most obvious route looks like river left but there is a tree with a root stob sticking out in the middle of that line. Far right looks better, but any line is iffy! You can scout this rapid from the road as there is a campsite with a pulloff next to it. Above Big Juju, there are few eddies, but you can recognize it when the current picks up, the channel straightens and constricts, and you pass a triangular rock in the middle of the creek. Good Luck! Below this, the creek follows the road and then ducks below a bridge before entering the Piney. Beware of the bridge! Thanks to T. Yamashita for information on this run!
Rating: III-IV+ TDCR: 8897 Location: To reach the take-out take Hwy 164 North from I-40 (exit 47) and drive approx. 3 miles north to Horsehead Lake. Cross over Horsehead Cr. and take the next left which will take you around the East side of the lake. Bear to your left (stay near the lake) and you'll eventually come to a low water slab that is under water (hopefully!). This is the Main Fork of Horsehead Cr. Since you can't drive across this creek (assuming the water is high enough to boat), park here and drag your boat 1/2 mile over to this spot from the West Fork of Horsehead when you take out. Or you can paddle out on the lake if you want to. It's about 50/50 on effort either way. To get to the put-in, go back around the lake (the way you came) and take a right on 164. Once you cross over Horsehead Cr., take the second dirt road to the right (North). Bear right at the only major intersection and you'll start heading way uphill until you get to the small community of White Oak. At White Oak the road T's into County Road 30. Turn right (North) on CR 30 and follow it for a few miles through Oak Grove to Batson. Take the first road to the right (South) just past the Batson church. Follow this road for 3/4 mile until you see a small trailer in the corner of a field on your right. Turn right on the small road just past this trailer. This is labeled FR 1445A on Ozark National Forest maps. Bear left on this road past a road that splits off to the right. After another 1/8 mile, you'll see a small turnout on the right that you can park at. Park there and brushwhack 1/4 mile and 300 vertical feet down to the creek. Bringing some climbing ropes and harnesses is not a bad idea at all. You're aiming for aprox. elevation 1500 feet on the creek. Good luck! Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: 160 fpm avg. (1 mi @ 420 fpm) Length: 5 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Very heavy rains (3+ inches) in the Clarksville and Ozark areas are needed to bring the creek up to a runnable level. The creek is best gauged by driving to the Middle Fork of Horsehead Cr. (the takeout). The ends of the concrete slab should be at least a few inches under water for a good run. A gauge reading of 9 feet or higher on Spadra Cr. may also be an indication of enough water on Horsehead Cr. Hazards: Numerous trees, numerous undercut rocks and ledges (especially at the Teacup), and fast, blind approaches to big waterfalls Description: This run was first explored by Steve "Dog" Robertson, Dave "The Grey Ghost" Reid, and Bill "Fish" Herring on 5/13/1999. The character of this run can be summed up in one word: waterfalls. There are many of them of all shapes and sizes on the creek, and all of them are runnable under the right conditions. The run starts off with an incredibly steep brushwhack downhill to reach the put-in on the edge of the National Forest boundary. Once you reach the bottom (not an easy task) you'll find an old roadbed that leads up away from the creek on the left side. From this put-in, the creek slides and tumbles through a nearly solid sheet of rock as it descends at over 400 fpm through a very narrow, steep-walled gorge. The beauty of the gorge is incredible, but getting out of it requires ropes and climbing skills in many places. The rapids are almost all low angle slides with some rocks stuck in them. In fact the whole creek is really just a natural waterslide. While this is fun in the lesser rapids, it creates long, eddy-less approaches to the bigger drops. None of the major drops can be seen clearly before you are committed to them. Very frequent scouting is an absolute nescessity, and a good hike beforehand at low levels is a must as well. The bigger drops start with Gooseneck, a long sliding approach followed by a 10 foot drop into a very small grotto. The hydraulic at the base of the last plunge may be inescapable at high water. Lots of fast action and trees bring you to another large sluice/fall combination which is a lot of fun unless there is a tree down in it. A scout past the next major horizon line reveals one of the most dangerous rapids on the run. The "Teacup O' Death" consists of three consecutive four foot ledges with the second ledge emptying into a huge undercut. The portage is easiest on the right bank. If you put in just past the Teacup, you'll be running a fast runnout stretch that features some jagged looking undercut bluffs. Just past these a big feeder pours in from the right. Stop immediately at this feeder and scout ahead to the next big fall (it's almost a certainty that you'll get swept over the fall if you get within 50 yards of it). This fall drops about 15 feet into a shallow pool. The water right below the lip of the drop is quite shallow, but the center of the pool is a few feet deep. It's a very iffy drop, and the portage to the pool below it requires a rappel (be sure to bring a good rope!). Test the pool very carefully if you're thinking about running this one. A lot of fast, sliding drops follow this big fall. Only run when you're sure you can cleanly catch the next eddy. Flying Dog Falls, a potentially bruising 20+ footer, is somewhere in this stretch, and if you get closer than 50 yards to it you'll be running it blind. You can't see the horizon line from the start of the entrance rapid, so be very careful! Flying Dog has a 5 foot deep pool, and it will tend to launch you into a nearly flat boof because of the small step right above the big drop. Is it worse to try to pencil down into really shallow water, or to land flat and potentially compress your spinal column? If you don't want to try to find the answer to that question there's a really easy portage just to the left of the fall. There are a bunch of fun rapids below Flying Dog as well as a few bad trees. After another half mile or so, you'll pick up a lot more volume from some feeders and the gradient will ease off somewhat. The balance of the run is very fast and fun class II+ to III water. There are several nice ledges and slides on the lower part of the creek, and a few undercut spots that can take your head off if you get too complacent. If you take out on the lake, be sure not to paddle over the spillway at the far end. This monster has been run at certain levels, but it's definitely not a healthy thing to do. West Horsehead is obviously a potentially dangerous creek that requires a very high level of commitment. It's incredibly difficult to get out of the gorge once you're in it. Portages and scouting are best done in many places with the help of good climbing ropes. At medium to high levels, the countless sluices, slides and falls don't provide many eddies at all. There aren't that many really bad drops, but the few that are there are huge and very dangerous. No matter how good you are, you'll be swept into them if you don't know exactly where they are. Be very sure you know what you're getting into before you carry down to the creek!
Rating: II+ TDCR: 2341 Location: Franklin Co.; Take Hwy. 215 north from I-40 near Mulberry until you get to Shores Lake. Go south of Shores L. and put-in at low water bridge below the dam. Take out 1 mile downstream on gravel road on river right or float to Hwy. 215 take out for Mulberry R. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Bidville, Cravens, Mountainburg SE Gradient: 40 fpm Length: 1 mi. (or 9 mi. if you float the Mulberry too) Season: RAIN Gauge: The Mulberry R. gauge (501-324-5150) should be over 6 ft. Hazards: no major ones Description: Hurricane Cr. is a good warmup or chaser for Spirits Cr. that is located just to the east. It is also a good run to catch in the afternoons after a busy work day. The rapids are nearly continuous class II, and the first one is a 3-4 ft. ledge that can be surfed. There are several good surfing opportunities, and the end of the run provides good eddies for squirting. If you're only going one mile, you can walk the shuttle in 15 minutes and run the creek again. Just make sure you don't miss the take out; the next one is eight miles downstream!
Rating: II+-III * TDCR: 3345 Location: Take out is reached from I-40 by taking Hwy 7 north to Pelsor. Go west on Hwy 123 for about 10 or 11 miles. Take a right on a dirt road just before crossing the Ft. Douglas Bridge over the Big Piney Creek. Go about 1.5 miles to the Hurricane Creek take out at a low water crossing. (This is just upstream from the confluence with the Big Piney.) Put in is reached by back tracking on Hwy 123 to Hwy 7. Go north 7 to 9 miles. Look for the "Who'd A Thought It" gift shop on the left. Take the dirt road just to the left of the gift shop. Soon you will come to a fork. Veer right and continue down hill 3 or 4 miles. After you get to the bottom of the valley you will come to another fork. Veer right for another 1/2 mile to the put on Cub Creek just a few hundred yards upstream of Hurricane Cr. Topo Quad(s): Chancel, Ft. Douglas Gradient: ?? fpm Length: 9 mi.? Season: RAIN Gauge: Reportedly this run can be done when the Piney is at 5 feet. It can certainly be done when the Piney is about 6 feet and Richland Cr. is running at least 3 feet. 6 - 7 feet on the Piney is better and 4 feet on Richland would be even better. Hazards: Strainers are the main hazard. Often there are downed trees that must be portaged or avoided. Description: This stream is a good choice for intermediate to advanced paddlers who may not be interested in Richland Cr. or harder runs. The first few miles are similar to the Big Piney and the second 1/2 is more like Falling Water Creek or maybe even lower Richland. The scenery is A+; waterfalls entering the creek are numerous! Strainers are the most obvious hazard to contend with and there are usually a few downed trees that need to be portaged. The pace is good for the first mile or so with challenging class II rapids. The creek then slows down for a few miles before the mountains squeeze the creek bed into a good class III jewel. Watch for "Uh Oh"! rapid a nice class III boulder garden about 3 miles upstream of the takeout. The line is somewhat difficult to see until you enter the drop. It is reminiscent of some of the drops on Section III of the Chattooga. ("Uh Oh" was the loud response from Gordon Kumpuris when boat scouting it for the first time.) Run it left to right. Thanks go to Gordon Kumpuris for information about this great Ozark run!
Rating: II TDCR: 2324 Location: S1: (Snow creek run) Take Hwy 7 north from I-40 at Russellville, and then take Hwy 27 in Dover towards Hector. Turn left at Hwy 105 (Hwy 105 turns back into Hwy 27 at Hector) go through Hector to the second bridge that crosses the Bayou and turn left on to the dirt road just prior to driving over the bridge. Put in were Snow Cr. enters the Bayou. S2: (Hector bridge to bridge run) Put in at the second bridge past Hector and take out at the next bridge just outside of Hector. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: 20 fpm Length: S1: 2 mi. S2: 5 mi. Season: SPRING and FALL Gauge: The USGS gauge at Scottsville should be between 6 and 8 feet for a good run. Advanced boaters can enjoy big water at levels over 8 feet, but the creek is much more hazardous. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: trees, pour over hydraulics at high levels - the last hydraulic on S2 can be sticky at higher levels Description: S1 is a good class II run for intermediate boaters. Beware of downed trees in this section. S2 is a good run for beginners. Some of the best action on S2 comes just downstream of the put-in at a series of standing waves created by ledge drops.
Rating: II+ TDCR: Location: The put in is located at a bridge over the river just behind the "Hogeye Mall", a convienience store near the intersection of Hwy 265 and Hwy 156 (aka Hogeye Rd.). From Fayetteville, take 265 to Hogeye either from the Cato Springs exit or from the Greenland I-540 exit. Hwy 156 can be accessed from the West Fork exit as well. The main takeout is reached by driving north (toward Fayetteville) on Hwy 265 from the Hogeye Mall. The second marked county road on the left takes you to an old iron bridge across the river (this road is labeled as Orr Rd. on Google Maps. The first county road left (labeled Kinzer Rd) will also take you to a slab across the river to cut off a mile of the trip or to serve as a low water put-in, but you miss some great rapids either way. Topo Quad(s): West Fork, Strickler Gradient: 14 fpm Length: 4 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: The run takes a lot of rain to get it going and it drops out pretty quickly. It runs when Fall Creek is running, so the USGS gauge for Baron Fork at Dutch Mills may be a good predictor if rain is widespread (look for over 3.5 feet and rising). Also check the Illinois R. at Savoy gauge. 5 to 6 feet on this gauge and rising fast can be a good sign. However there are 25+ miles and a ton of watershed between Hogeye and Savoy, so the correlation is not really that good. Hazards: Trees, strainers, and some barbed wire near the creek. Description: When West Fork gets pounded with rain, it's not a bad idea to drive the 15 minutes from Fayetteville to Hogeye to check out this great little class II+ run. If the creek looks like it can be boated without scraping at the put-in near Hogeye Mall, it's good to go. But it gets better and better with more water! When the gravel bars under the iron bridge at the takeout are under and the rapid upstream of the bridge looks like two big riverwide ledge holes, hang on to your hat! Though the gradient appears somewhat anemic, the run tends to pool up and then drop over ledges, making for terrific surfing at higher levels. At optimal levels, there are six to seven terrific surfing spots, though finding good eddies gets more problematic as the water rises. When the water's really cooking, it's mostly "catch on the fly" time on some honest-to-god BIG waves. At the slab bridge (possible takeout) a long ledgy section produces some nice spin holes, and another half mile downstream, a sloped ledge generates a powerful hole for spins and tricks. The rapid just above the iron bridge is the biggest drop, and at certain water levels, it's holes can be difficult to exit. However, if you swim there (and a few have!), just get your boat to the right bank at the bridge and crawl up to your vehicle! Beginners should watch out for some tricky maneuvering through trees in a few places, and, needless to say, it's no place for beginners when the water is high.
Rating: III+ * TDCR: ???? Location: Put-in is .5 miles south of Cane Hill on Hwy 45. It will be obvious when one sees an old mill sluice on the left (east) side of the drainage (that can be an optional put-in) and on the right (west) you will see a dirt road that parallels Jordan Creek. There is a roadside pullover there with plenty of parking. You can also scout the meat of the run using both the dirt road and Hwy 45. The first drops of the run are along the dirt road, then on the other side of the creek - less than 100 yards down the highway - there is an old mill complete with huge steel grist wheel that is right on top of some of the best drops. It is marked on the topo maps as a roadside pullover. The take-out is reached by going south on Hwy 45 4.5 miles. You will see a road to your right, and two bridges should be visible (within 1/4 mile from Hwy 45), a new one and an old arched bridge made of concrete (this is an optional take-out if you want to extend the run another mile and a half). Continue across this bridge 1.9 miles until you see the third road on the right, follow it a short distance down to a low-water crossing - the take-out. Topo Quad(s): Lincoln Gradient: 55 fpm Length: 4 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: Baron Fork at Dutch Mills should be 5.0 minimum. The correlation should be fairly good because it is only 4.5 miles upstream from the guage, however there are two creeks that flow in upstream of the guage, so take that in consideration and check you precipitation estimates before you go. Hazards: Logs, log jams, barbed wire. There are several barbed wire fences that parallel the creek and could create a hazard after a flood, plus at least one cattle fence that needs to be treated with caution. Description: First known descent occured on January, 5 2005 by Steve "dog" Robertson, Steve Runnles, Wood Harlan, and Paul. The first part of the run consists of a mile of III+ and has all the characteristics of a small steep creek. Below the first mile it becomes a II-III run that is pastoral, and this is where logs are a concern. The first mile is extremely accessible via the highway. The creek is in a geographical "gray" area for whitewater, it is accesible by road, there is an accurate gauge correlation and it not too far from West Cedar, which provides a backup plan in case the water in Jordan is too low. Boaters who can handle creeks like Spirits and Falling Water should be able to paddle Jordan Cr., and like those creeks, easy road accesibility makes this one very creeker-friendly. Thanks to Steve Robertson for information on this run!
Rating: III+ * TDCR: 5657 Location: Madison Co.; Put in at Dripping Springs low water bridge north of Hwy. 16 just east of Boston. Take out at Hwy. 74 bridge west of Kingston. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Weathers, Kingston Gradient: Steep at the start and non-existent at the end... Length: 11 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: There is a gauge on the downstream side of the Dripping Springs bridge at the put-in. It is graduated in 1/10 inch increments. Minimum is 1.0 ft., optimum from 1.5 to 2.5 ft., and if water is running over the bridge the run is too high. The Upper Kings is usually runnable when other area streams, such as the Mulberry and White Rivers, are in flood. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: strainers, tight fast-paced rapids Description: This run is not to be confused with the pastoral Kings R. that Tom Kennon describes in his book "Ozark Whitewater." This is the Upper Kings that Kennon briefly mentions. A serious class III+ run, the Upper Kings warms up for the first mile until Kings Falls (III), a sheer drop of over six feet, is reached. Below the falls the gradient picks up and several class III to III+ rapids are encountered. God's Kitchen (III), Red Rock Sluice (IV), Jester (III), Wicked Game (III+), and Kings Throne (III+) are some of the more intense rapids. The toughest of these is Red Rock Sluice. This one got it's name from the red marks made by David Thrasher's open canoe during the first descent of the creek. Scout and/or portage it on the left. Take time to enjoy this steep, exciting stretch because the last six miles down to the Hwy. 74 bridge are as flat as a pancake. This character building paddle is the price of admission for the great whitewater above. DO NOT be tempted to shorten the run by taking out above Hwy. 74. The land is all private, and the landowners have threatened to tow any vehicles parked near the creek! All boaters should have solid intermediate whitewater skills and advanced flat water skills for this run. Seriously, be confident on fast class III-IV water or don't mess with this part of the Kings. Thanks to Shelby Johnson for information on this run.
Rating: II+ (S1: II-III, S2: II+) TDCR: 3232 Location: Crawford Co.; S1: Put in south of Devil's Den Park on NFR 702 and take out at Hwy 220 bridge. S2: Put in at the new Hwy 220 bridge (which replaced the classic "steel bridge" in 2000. There's a dirt road on the river left side upstream of the bridge that leads to a parking area. Take out at the great new NFS take out by going south on Hwy 200 from the bridge about 200 yards and then turning right onto Lee Creek Community Rd. (gravel). Go about 1/4 mile and follow the signs, turning right to drive to the parking area for the take out. You can drive right to the river to pick up boats, but please park in the designated area. This is an easy shuttle to walk if you don't want to mess with two cars. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Strickler, Rudy NE Gradient: 15 fpm Length: S1: 10 mi., S2: 1.5 mi. Season: FALL, SPRING Gauge: The USGS gauge at Short Oklahoma should be more than 4.5 feet to scrape down. Above 5.0 the play is fairly good. Above 6.0 it's much better! S2 can be fun up to very high levels for advanced boaters, but most folks will think it's getting pretty crazy at anything over 8 feet or so. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: heavy strainers in S1, powerful hole at Buck and Flush at high levels Description: S2 is one of the most popular play runs in the area. Fun can be found at almost any runnable level. The gradient is not great, but the short run seems to be filled with action. At higher levels waves and holes are abundant. After a longish pool, the first drop is fast and powerful - and studded with rocks at lower levels. It doesn't have any well known name, but the rest do. Football Field Rapids is a 100 yard long, wide series of ledges. This one is usually shallow with some surf holes on the right and the hard to catch Touchdown Wave at the end. At very high levels (>12 feet) the entire rapid is filled with large irregular waves and wave-holes! The next drop is El Horrendo, which used to be less than half it's present width. A tree washed out on the left bank in the mid 90's and the result was a much weaker, straightforward ledge at regular levels. After a pool comes Surfing Ledges (also known by other names), where holes can be surfed, and enders can be had on the river right at levels of about 9 feet. After another pool, Buck-N-Flush is waiting. This rapid was long feared in the 90's for it's grabby, punishing hole at levels of 7+ feet. Testing oneself in Buck-N-Flush hole was sort of a right of passage for Northwest Arkansas kayakers for a decade, and many a bold boater tangled with the hole and lost, providing an opportunity to test PFD's and throw ropes. While not terminal (swimmers generally flushed out almost immediately), this spot was maybe the most infamous stopper in the state. But after the record flooding of June 2000, a gravel bar downstream of the main ledge was formed, the pool level was raised and the result was a kinder and gentler hole. At least for a while. One of these days another flood could relocate some gravel and surprise some boaters once again. In any case, the main part of the hole can be avoided by staying to the left and riding down the seam of green water. After Buck-N-Flush waves continue until the takeout at high levels. Look for rock steps up the bank at the end of the long rock shelf on river left to take out. S1 is a different run entirely. It has a few nice rapids, but the play is not nearly as good as the lower section. Also there is one of the worst strainer jungles in the Ozarks just upstream of the Blackburn Cr. confluence. Due to the ugly hazards and lack of nice drops, S1 is not often run. S2 is a good run for agressive beginners, but S1 is much more dangerous and boaters running that stretch should have experience negotiating strainers and holes.
Rating: II-IV * TDCR: ???? Location: Put-in: Take Hwy 16 East from Pelsor appox. 1.5 miles and take an old logging road to the right (South). Follow the road as far as possible and drag down the hill the confluence of the first two forks (Elevation 1500). Reach the take-out at the Victor bridge over the North Fork of the Illinois Bayou by taking Victor Road from Hwy 7 near the Freeman Springs Cemetery. Topo Quad(s): Sand Gap Gradient: 140 fpm (300+ fpm max) Length: 8 mi. (2 mi. on LHP) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Gage at Richland Campground should to be above 6 or headed that way. Look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer and Ben Hur rain gages, at the BNR Data Page. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. Description: First known descent was November 1, 1996. By Cowper Chadbourn, Chris Anderson, Robin Booth, Walter & Gayle Felton (OC-2), Lane Gorman, Lance Jones, Nate Kline and Robert Orr. The creek starts out small until joining with the Right Hand Prong and Cedar Creek. Most drops are tight continuous class II-III in nature, but a few IVs are scattered in for good measure. Scenery is very excellent! Shortly below the put-in is a tight complex slot drop with some pin potential. About 0.5 miles downstream is a poorly padded 5-6 ft ledge with a piton rock waiting. A hard landing is likely even with a good boof. The highlight of the creek comes shortly when the creek narrows to 3-4 feet on a shallow bedrock slide. The slide ends in an 8 ft drop known as "The Spout" into a horseshoe shaped pool. The Right Hand Prong doubles the flow and some fun shoals and slides await near the confluence with Cedar Creek. There is a 4wd road to the right at Boyd Cemetery, if needed. But fun class II-III water with lots of surfing lasts for the next 3 miles to the Victor bridge. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek may seem like a very technical class III, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher levels, several rapids are expected to become solid class V. Be familiar with the particular hazards of small Ozark creeks before attempting this run. Thanks to Lance Jones for information on this creek!
Rating: III-IV TDCR: 5676 Location: The take-out is the same as is used for the Mill creek take-out on the bottom end of the Mulberry River. It is on a road that turns east off of Hwy. 215 north of the I-40 Mulberry exit. The turn is about 3 miles north of the freeway and just north of the Mill Cr. bridge on Hwy. 215 (this is the only large creek crossing between I-40 and the town of Fern). Follow this dirt road for about 1/4 mile to a low water slab and park off the road on the river right side. Several put-ins are possible, but none are really easy. Be very careful trying to cross the creek when the water is up, but if you can do it, you can follow the dirt road on the east side of the gorge. Just past the last house on the left (back in the woods), where the road is very near the creek, you can scramble down the bluff with your boat to access at Slap Happy Pappy rapid at the top of the lower gorge. This is a good low water option, but it is not an easy climb down! Another couple of miles or so up the road, there is an old logging road that heads west toward the creek into an old clearcut area. The turn onto this road is greater than 90 degrees if you're heading north (it's a "Y" intersection from the other direction). You'll probably want to drive only a little way down this road (the USFS tries to block it from time to time). Park and walk down the old road and bear downhill to the creek. You'll cut through the clearcut and down through a bluff line. When you intersect the creek you are at Fern Gulley - either put in here if there is enough water or cross and continue down a short distance to the confluence with the Middle Fork. If the water is too high to cross the low water slab at the takeout (which it often is), you can drive back to 215 and then north to Fern. When 215 turns east at Fern, go until you pass an A-frame house on the right. Take the next right on a very good geavel road. This is the same road that crosses the creek at the takeout. Follow it for a mile or so to the "Y" with the old logging road that leads to the put-in described above. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg SE Gradient: 120 fpm (first mile @ 180 fpm) Length: 2.75 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Mulberry should be high and rain farily recent to run the creek. The best way to gauge it is at the takeout slab. An inch or so of water over this slab is absolute zero level for a run down the lower gorge section (the upper part is too low). With 6 inches of water over the slab in the middle, the gorge will be good and the upper creek bony. A foot or more is a good level for the entire creek. If the creek is spreading into the parking area, it will be very pushy and dangerous - it has been run with several feet of water over the slab, but that can't be recommended! The USGS Mulberry R. at Mulberry gauge is not a great indicator for Little Mill since it is upstream of the Mill Cr. confluence. However a level of 8 feet or more on the Mulberry gauge is a good sign that Little Mill could be there. Also, the USGS rain gauge at Mulberry is close to Little Mill's watershed, so a rain of 2 inches or more in a short time is also a good indicator. Hazards: many trees and strainers, large drops, undercut rocks Description: First run on 2/21/97 by Steve Robertson, Zen Boulden, Kent Peetz, and Richard Haler, this creek is a real gem. The creek starts at the confluence of Fern Gulley (the East Fork) and the Middle Fork of Little Mill (both are steeper creek runs when the water is high). Just downstream, the West Fork enters to add more volume. The first major rapid is Gollum's Hole, a class III drop around a blind right hand corner, with a spooky series of caves in a sandstone bluff at the bottom. At really high levels, this rapid and the next one, Stone Ground (III) have some mean holes that must be punched. The next two miles of the creek consists of almost constant rapids, though at optimal levels none are tougher than class III. Trees are often a major hazard in these two miles, so stay alert and be ready to eddy out and portage! The creek suddenly opens up and changes character as Slap Happy Pappy Sluice (III-) is encountered. This is usually a scape down a wide shoal unless the water is extremely high. The creek narrows again, but now has a solid bedrock bottom. This is the lower gorge - the main attraction! After some smaller drops, the horizon line of Lacerator (III+) comes into view. Don't flip here or you may find out how it got its name! The next drop is The Gash, a class IV at optimal levels. The eddies below Lacerator are hard to catch, so it may be a good idea to scout both of these drops if you're new to the creek. The Gash starts with a move to the right around a big mid-stream rock and then a short slide into a turbulent sluice. This is kayak pinball at it's finest! Strong cross currents tend to try to push you into the jagged looking rock wall on the right near the bottom. You can try to stay left, but failure may result in a flip and The Gash is not a good place to be out of control! An alternate plan is to go with the flow and play the bank shot off of the reaction pillow against the wall. This is a gutsy looking move, but with good boat control and a solid brace it can result is a smooth ride to the bottom. After The Gash is a ledge with a hole that demands respect at higher levels and then the Undercut From Hell. This is a rocky drop that feeds into a jagged and deeply undercut wall on the left side. Though it can be snuck to the far right, a scout and/or portage here is prudent. After a bit more water, the last major rapid can be recognized from the large horizon line on river left. This is Love Shack Falls, and it is the biggest drop on the creek. Love Shack has been run on the left over the big angled ledge, but it is a shallow landing and can result in a bruising. The more frequently run line is down the entrance rapid on the right, hang the corner, and try to get to the middle of the waterfall for a boof. The base of this 6-7 footer is rocky, and a long boat could vertically pin here if the nose plunges deep. Failure to boof has resulted in the occasional elbow injury. Boats can be carried back up on far river left for another run here, and The Gash is also a good candidate for multiple runs if you don't mind tempting fate! The gorge ends at Love Shack and the rapids are tree-choked class II to the takeout 1/4 mile down. Little Mill is a great steep creek run in the southern Ozarks. It's maybe a half-notch tougher than nearby Spirits Cr. which may be a good alternative for those not sure about tackling the more hazardous rapids on Little Mill. If you're a Fayetteville or Fort Smith boater, this creek is a good reason to not drive all the way to Richland! Thanks go to Steve Robertson for information on this one.
Rating: III+ (IV) * TDCR: ???? Location: the put-in road is off Hwy 215 4 miles from the Mill Creek bridge. Take-out is the same as the Little Mill take-out. An optional put-in may be accessed 2.7 miles from Mill Creek Bridge but is 4x4 only and may not get you to the creek without a hard hike. Topo Quad(s): Mounatinburg SW Gradient: 228 fpm Length: 1.6 mi. (plus 2.75 mi on Little Mill Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Mulberry should be huge (8 feet) and rising on the USGS gauge at Mulberry to catch the West Fork of Little Mill. Little Mill Cr. should almost be covering all of the concrete of the slab at the takeout. You can also check Fern Gulley - if it is at a runnable level, the West Fork should be too. Hazards: continuous rapids, undercuts, and of course a bunch of logs! Description: This creek was first run on January 4, 2005 by Steve "Dog" Robertson, Steve Runnles and Sammy Wellborn. It is 1.6 miles of nearly continuous class III with a couple of drops besides the big one at the bottom that approach class IV in difficulty. The big drop comes right before the confluence with Little Mill, and is formed by a boulder pile. There is an undercut on river right, but most of the current blows by it. At high water the whole run might be bumped up to class IV. This is a great alternate run for those not yet ready to handle the more serious hazards on Fern Gulley or Mormon Creek. Those comfortable on Little Mill and Spirits Cr. could make the step up to this creek when the water is high in the area - just watch out for the fast pace of drops and the high potential for logs blocking the streambed. The run is WAY fun, has plenty of challenging whitewater, and there is no hike in. What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, how about three miles of Little Mill Creek running high to boot! Thanks to Steve Robertson for information on this and the entire Little Mill drainage!
Rating: III-IV * TDCR: 5657 Location: Madison Co.; Put in is reached by turning on a dirt road to the south two miles east of Red Star on Hwy. 16. The road is located just below a large microwave tower. Follow this road till it ends or until the going gets too rough for your vehicle. Then hike down to the creek. Take out at the Spoke Plant low water bridge 5 miles downstream. IMPORTANT NOTE: a landowner on the creek above Spoke Plant has expressed concern with paddlers boating this stretch, which runs through her property and does not want anyone to boat the creek at this time. Boaters are encouraged to respect the landowner's wishes. If you need to contact the landowner, please contact me, Fish, at email@example.com. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Boston Gradient: 60-80 fpm Length: 5 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: None. Can be run only after heavy local rains. Hazards: fast action, strainers, and class III+ rapids Description: This run was pioneered by Shelby Johnson and Ryan Johnson in Spring of 1994. The first mile and a half packs quite a punch with rapids like Initiator (III), a 6 ft. waterfall, and OWS (Ozark Wall Slammer) (III+). Several class III drops are then followed by Fish Ladder (IV), a congested boulder sieve that remains unrun due to low water conditions on the first descent. Several class III rapids follow until the paddler reaches Plank Rapid (III). Here the paddler must eddy out and remove a plank bridge before running the rapid. Be sure to replace the plank after completing this fun drop. Several class II-III rapids follow until the takeout. Strainers are a fact of life on small Ozark creeks, so watch out for downed trees that can easily block the creek. Only solid class IV boaters should attempt this fast paced and challenging run. Thanks to Shelby Johnson for information on this run.
Rating: III-V * TDCR: ???? Location: Newton Co.; Go North on CR 28 from Deer toward Wayton and Parthenon. This road takes you past the Alum Cove recreation area. Continue for 2 miles North past the rec. area and park on the side of the road. Drag West down the through the woods aiming for the confluence of the top two forks. (Elevation 1800) The creek is small and basically a shallow bedrock shoal for first 0.25 miles. Reach the take-out by continuing North to the community of Wayton from the put-in. Turn left (West) on CR 96 at the Wayton Baptist Church. Go 2.3 miles and turn left (South) on CR 95. Snow cemetery should be on the right. Continue ~2.5 miles down the mountain to the community of Murray. Be sure to check out the scenery on the way down. Especially the small but tall waterfall above the first creek crossing. At the bottom of the hill, there are a couple of houses on the right then a triangle intersection. To the left, Willis Park is beside the creek at the low-water bridge and there will probably be standing water in the field. Park at the community building next to the park at the intersection. Be sure to thank any locals and leave a donation for this facility. (Elevation 1065) Topo Quad(s): Murray Gradient: 285 fpm (450 fpm for last .4 miles on Long Branch) Length: 2 miles on Long Branch followed by 4.5 miles on East Fork Little Buffalo Season: FLOOD Gauge: Gauge at Richland Campground should to be above 6 or headed that way. Look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer and Mockingbird Hill and Murray rain gages, at the BNR Data Page. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. Very tight in places (pinning hazards). Watch your head at 'Duck and Cover'. The last 0.5 miles of the creek is essentially one long steep complex rapid. Description: First known descent was March 19, 2002 by Lance Jones, Cowper Chadbourn, Greg Churan, Heath Day, Scott Hanshaw, Bryan Hughbanks, Mike Jacobs, Jeremy Kasouf, Nate Kline, Matt May, John McCoy, Jason Mellor, Mike Oglesby and Ray Skinner. The creek starts out very narrow with a 0.2+ mile long shoal. Shortly after crossing an ATV trail a third fork enters from the left. Immediately below this fork is the first set of drops. The first horizon line is a steep fast slide dropping 12-15 ft followed shortly by a 6-8 ft waterfall (run on left or right) followed shortly by a 20-ft steep fast slide into a small pool. Leave the pool far right in a narrow slide, ramp up on the right bank to avoid slamming the boulder on river left and ride the flume out the bottom. After these first drops, the creek becomes boulder drops. The next horizon line is an interesting double drop named 'Duck and Cover'. The first 4-ft drop is under an overhanging rock into a sticky boiling hole. The second part offers a nasty slot with pin/piton potential on river left or shallow slide down river right. Lots more nice class III/IV for the next mile with some nice drops like "Baby Zwick's" and 'Switchback'. Haunt Hollow enters from river right to add a little more water before the meat of the lower gorge begins. The bottom gorge offers very steep banks and 450+ ft/mile for a third mile. Big complex boulder drops with holes, pin potential and undercuts. The portages are worse! The lower gorge consists back to back drops with small eddys scattered about. The beginning is a boof from the right aiming left. Go left of the first rock and boof off the second back to the right. This avoids the two holes to the right of the rocks and lines up for the final slot on the right. Small eddys on each side offer a break before dropping over a 3-ft ledge preferably right. The left side below the ledge feeds a boiling eddy which pillows on a rock blocking most of the exit. One more small eddy and through a 5-ft slot drop, eddy left. Boof center over the small hump into the next eddy on river right. Pin potential in the river right tongue beside the hump. Below this river right eddy is the 'Particle Separator'. Name has dual meaning. First, the rapid requires a 3-ft boof to the left over the broken ledge aiming for a boat wide slot on river left beside the 'separator' rock and over an 8-ft ledge at the bottom. Going right of the separator rock will take you into a nasty looking notch. Will probably flush though but it may be a bumpy ride. Second, it separates the boaters from the walkers (The portage is high and tough on either bank.) A couple eddys are available below the ledge before entering the 'Long Branch Saloon'. Majority of the flow funnels left toward a house size boulder. Enter the door to the left onto the tongue beside the pillow and get ready for a punch in the face from the hole at the bottom of the 10-ft drop. At high water this hole could become nasty as the creek is constricted between the large boulder on the left, the cliff on the right and water pouring straight down into the deep pool. Out of the pool and work between some rocks and back to the right. Boof off the 5-ft ledge onto a sluice/slide. Follow the flume around the sharp left hand turn, avoid the left bank and eddy right. The main rapid is next. The gorge ends in a bang with 'Freeride'. This rapid drops 45-50 ft over 100 yards. A long complex solid class V rapid starting with 3 boulder slot moves followed by a 5-ft boof into a small eddy on the left. There is no stopping after this eddy until the pool at the bottom. The creek turns sharply right over a cluttered 4-ft rock pile. Best line is middle to right, ride the bow high on the right bank as it turns back to the left. Negotiate a route through some trash rocks down the right side as the creek turns back to the left. Line up for an 8-ft boof onto a slide. Hit the boof right with left angle to avoid the right shelf rock and the hole and undercut wall on the left. Once on the slide, quick acceleration takes over to the final 10+ foot waterfall. Punch through the curler pushing you right on the approach to the waterfall. You want to be left to avoid the large boulder on the bottom right side of the pool. Just around the corner from the pool is the East Fork Little Buffalo. The creek enters ~ 0.5 miles below Johnson's Falls so get ready for 4.5 miles of big water through the meat of the EFLB at flood! This is class IV+ big water with juicy holes, swirlies and crosscurrents. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek will seem like a very technical Class III, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher levels, several rapids are solid Class V. Thanks go to Lance Jones for the description of this run. See Lance Jones' Pages for more info.
Rating: III-V * TDCR: 8786 Location: Newton Co.; Put in is just south of Ketcherside Mtn on Lurton Quad; start near where map shows elevation 2059 on road, follow faint remains of old logging road SE downhill then turning to NE and continuing down ridge to creek junction just below elev. 1600. Drag from main road is about 0.7 mi. to put-in. Take-out is at Richland Creek Campground. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Lurton, Moore Gradient: 180 fpm (not counting Richland) Length: 2.5 mi. plus 1.5 mi. on Richland Season: FLOOD Gauge: Water should be nearly flush with Richland Campground bridge or above 6 ft on the ACC Bulletin Board gauge. Also, look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer and Ben Hur rain gages, as posted on the ACC Bulletin Board. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours for a run. At very high levels, expect a solid class V run for 4 miles. Hazards: difficult rapids, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. Description: First known run was April 30, 1995, by Cowper Chadbourn, Chris Jones, and Nathan Kline, with the exception of Long Devils Falls (river right side of Twin Falls) which was first run April 11, 1995 by Cowper Chadbourn (followed shortly by all others who were participating in the first run of Big Devils Fork). In early May, 1995, Lance Jones made the first OC-1 run of this stretch of whitewater with some portages). Dale Barton claimed the first OC-1 run of Long Devils Falls about this same time. This run is very similar to Big Devils, but has generally cleaner drops, longer slides, and fewer undercuts. This run has what has to be one of the longest (but not the steepest!) rock slides in Arkansas; expect terminal velocity if water is sufficient to prevent scraping! Just below the first big waterfall (8 to 10 feet), you will encounter "The Devil's Playground". Look for the runnable channel down the river left side. If you choose to run the 16 to 18' waterfall at Twin Falls, run left of center and try to maintain good speed to launch well into the pool below. Several pitons have occurred due to low speed, right of center runs of this falls. Also, the portage around the falls may be more hazardous than the run. At lower levels, consider tying your throw rope to your boat and letting the boat run the falls without you. All drops on Long Devils have been run, but many could be rough for an inverted boater. After you leave Devils Fork, the run down Richland (IV+ at these levels) gives you little opportunity to relax! This run is for expert level boaters only. The room for error on the run is very, very small, and mistakes will be punished! A flooded run on Falling Water Cr. would probably be a more sane option that tackling this creek before you're ready. Thanks go to Cowper Chadbourn for the description of this run. See Lance Jones' Pages for more info on Long Devils Cr.
Rating: III+ TDCR: 5567 Location: From Leslie, AR on Hwy 65 go 7 miles east on Hwy 66 to Oxley. Turn right on paved county road and travel 2 miles to end of pavement. Turn left and follow winding county road 3 miles to a T-intersection. Turn left and go 0.5 mile to the Flag intersection. Turn left and go 1.5 miles to a low-water bridge where the road makes a 90 degree right turn. This is the put-in. Return to the Flag intersection and continue straight (this would be a right turn in the put-in directions). About 3 miles past Flag at the bottom of the mountain you will come to a flooded Suck Hollow Creek crossing. The take-out is at the mouth of this creek as it flows into Meadow Creek 100 yards below the road. If you miss the mouth of Suck Hollow Branch while paddling you can take-out at a low-water bridge 0.5 mile further down the creek and walk the county road 0.5 mile back to the vehicle. If you decide to cross this creek you can drive 0.5 mile further to the low-water bridge and take-out there. The bridge will probably have 3-4 ft of water over it so keep in mind if the creeks are still rising you may become stranded between two flooded creeks. In addition, as you have probably figured out by now, your are a long way from nowhere. Topo Quad(s): Fox, Oxley Gradient: 55 fpm Length: 5.5 mi. Season: Rain Gauge: The Middle Fork of the Little Red should be at least 12 ft or more in Shirley. This gauge however has its limits because the Little Red is a large river and several miles below its headwaters when it gets to Shirley. Meadow Creek does not have a significant impact on the Little Red so the gauge is approximate. There should be at least 1 ft. of water over the put-in bridge for a good run. The Tick Creek tributary to Meadow Creek is tiny at the put-in, but it meets two other tributaries and nearly triples in size within 200 yards of the put-in. Hazards: waterfalls, undercuts, strainers, trees Description: The first two miles on Tick Creek are chocked full of willow lined chutes and fast II+ water. At about two miles the paddler reaches Squeeze-the-Tick (III) where the creek turns sharply left and drops about 15 ft. over 20 yards through a very narrow willow lined chute. The approach to Squeeze is sudden and the decision to run the left chute must be made quickly. Don't run the right chute because of a poorly placed tree growing in the middle of your path. About 1/4 mile farther Tick Creek meets Jimmy's Creek entering from river left and the two become Meadow Creek. The next mile contains fast II+ water with some nice boulder dodging. A small bluff on river right signals the arrival of Walk-on-the-Wild-Slide (II-III+). The Slide is river wide and drops 15 ft. or more over about 15 yards. At a level of 1 ft. over the put-in bridge the Slide should be run river left. A Walk in the name implies the slide should be ported at lower levels for the sake of boat preservation. At higher levels the Slide a wild cascade with two river wide holes on the way down and a slap-you-in-the-face stopper at the bottom. The bottom hole provides nice surfing at lower levels. About 1/4 mile below the Slide hides a 15 yard long undercut ledge on river right. This could be dangerous at lower levels so pay close attention. Another 1/2 mile later the roaring of Meadow Creek Falls (III+) announces the arrival of a nice scouting trail on river right. The Falls section drops approximately 25-30 ft. over 150 yards and cannot be scouted adequately from your boat. The only line available to run the sheer 8 foot drop is about 15 feet from river right. The paddler needs plenty of speed and a good boof to avoid the nasty hydraulic below. A bad boof will result in a Class IV+ nightmare. I have seen these falls without water and they are no place to be inverted or swimming. Paddle aggressively and catch an eddy before washing through the rest of the falls. From the pool below the falls you paddle through a wide slot on river right and blast through Greener Pastures Ahead (III). Greener Pastures is the last drop in the Falls section. It's a narrow, but straight forward chute on river left that drops about 12 ft. over 10-15 yards. Watch for brush hanging out over the chute from the bluff on river left. In higher water Greener Pastures Ahead may be run on river right which ends with a 5 ft. sheer drop. Looking back up through the Falls section provides a very nice picture of just how scenic whitewater paddling can be. The remaining 2 miles provide little time to relax as the fast II+ water continues to wind through narrow slots lined with willows and dotted with trees. If you plan to take-out at the mouth of Suck Hollow Branch it is a large tributary on river right as Meadow Creek makes a hard left turn about 1 1/2 miles below the falls. Meadow Creek was first run on January 6, 1998 by Randall Gammill and Nick Hansen of Springfield, Missouri. It compares well with many other intermediate runs in the Ozarks. It has good length, gradient, scenery and doesn't require a flood for a good level.
Rating: III TDCR: 5570 Location: Crawford Co.; Put in and take out 1/10 mi. below Lee Cr. put in (S2) at Hwy. 220 bridge. You can boat or walk down to the creek which enters Lee on river right as Lee bends sharply to the left. Topo Quad(s): Rudy NE Gradient: ??? fpm (it's very, very steep and short) Length: 0.1 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Lee Cr. should be flooded (> 12 ft.) This one can only be boated immediately after extremely heavy rainfall. Hazards: several trees standing in the creek and very tight, bony drops. Description: If you are lucky enough to catch Lee Cr. an hour or less after a big rain, you may want to look at this tiny creek with no name. The entire run consists of two drops. The first is a 6-7 ft. class III+ with a narrow margin for error and a very shallow landing. After a short lesson in tree dodging the second drop of about 5 ft. is encountered. The creek never gets more than 10 ft. wide, so maneuvering and/or eddy catching is a joke. This is a good side trip during a run on a very flooded Lee Cr. Just make sure you are ready to pay the price in lost skin if you screw up on this one!
Rating: III-IV TDCR: 6786 Location: Traveling south on Hwy. 215 from Fern, go one mile then take a left (east) on a gravel road (if you go 100 yards past it there is a yellow two-story house indicating you've gone too far). Follow this road for about 200 yards until it turns to the south and begins to go uphill where the road widens and there is plenty of room to park. Park you car here, and carry down to the put-in, a short 100-150 yards due east. This is the confluence of the middle fork and two tributaries; slides and waterfalls abound! The take-out is found by going south on 215 from Fern, turning left at the Ozark National Forest sign, and then taking the first right. This will follow a finger ridge, then a steep slope down to the mouth of the Middle Fork Gorge (this is also the put-in for Little Mill Cr.). From the highway to the take-out is 1 mile. This is definitely a road for 4WD's only! If the Middle Fork is up then this take-out will be an adventure in itself, class IV driving at least! Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg SE Gradient: 187 fpm Length: 1.5 mi. Season: Flood Gauge: Creeks such as Spirits and others larger creeks like Hurricane must be in full flood. If Mill Creek appears to be bank-full at the Mill Creek Bridge then it is ready. If it just looks runnable then it may be too low. Two or more inches of very recent rain are a must for this creek. Hazards: undercut rocks, downed trees, strainers, undercut grottos Description: The defining characteristic of the Middle Fork is the exposed sandstone bedrock that literally forms a sandstone sluice for a large part of this section. This sluice varies from 6 to 20 feet in width and drops over shale and sandstone falls that are at times partially blocked by sandstone boulders. There are at least two drops over boulders into grottos that need to be scouted due to the possibility of vertical pins or lodging under undercut ledges. It is a unique run in that civilization (I-40 is less than 8 miles away) is close, but the extreme relief so effectively isolates the paddler that one feels as though it is a wilderness run. To not do the rest of Little Mill would be silly indeed, especially when one considers the condition of the access road to reach the take out. Middle Fork of Little Mill is a tough creek that gives the paddler very little room to maneuver. You had better be a very competent class IV boater, or you may find out just how extreme the relief is as you are hiking out of the gorge. As with all super-narrow Ozark creeks, trees can be a huge factor in the difficulty of the run. Deadfalls can easily create some overnight class V traps on the Middle Fork, so scout ahead as often as possible. Thanks go to Steve Roberston, the pioneer of the Little Mill/Mill drainages, for information on this terrific run.
Rating: II+ TDCR: ???? Location: Searcy and Van Buren Co.; Take Hwy. 110 east of Hwy. 9 (south of Shirley) to Old Lexington. Drive approximately 3 miles past Old Lexington to the second dirt road to the right (north). Follow this road until it closely parallels the river (on the left). It's a good idea to seek permission to park here, since the land is privately owned. To take out, find a small dirt road that runs north from Old Lexington. Drive about two miles to a low-water bridge over the creek in Arlberg. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Oxley, Old Lexington Gradient: ?? fpm Length: 10 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: The USGS gauge at Hwy. 9 can be used for this run. Min: 8.5 ft. Max: 11.0 ft. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: numerous strainers Description: This run contains many good class II+ rapids, and the action is pleasantly continuous. Walter Diggs Rapid is encountered halfway into the run, and it is a long class III rapid that many less experienced boaters may want to portage. The willow strainers are unrelenting on this run. If you don't have great boat control in class II water, this isn't the run for you.
Rating: II-III+ TDCR: 4555 Location: You can put in up in Devil's Canyon, but this is not recommended for three reasons. One is that the put-in is a long drag into a gorge that is hard enough to access without having a boat to drag. The second is that Devil's Canyon Branch of Mill Cr. is usually too small and dry to paddle, necessitating an even longer drag down to the main branch of Mill Cr. The last reason is the multitude of deadfalls that require long portages on the upper creek. The few good rapids in Devil's Canyon are not worth the effort. A better put-in can be reached by going about a mile north of the Hwy 215 bridge over Mill Cr. You'll see the National Forest sign marking the forest boundary. Within the next mile there is a private inholding consisting of a big rectangular area on the left side of the road (the inholding is clearly marked on the Ozark National Forest Map). This was orignally owned by a church (still marked on the map) and there is a building that used to serve as the church but is now a private residence. Keep going past this building and look for a gravel road on the left. Go past this road and take the next small road on the left. Drive as far as you can and then park and walk down to the creek. These directions are still very rough, so follow them at your own risk. The take-out is the easy to access Hwy 215 bridge over Mill Cr. a few miles north of I-40 near Mulberry. If you want to access in Devil's Canyon, you can follow Hwy. 215 north from the take-out until you see a small dirt road on the left with a red post near it. Follow this road through a clear-cut until you come to a posted gate. Go right at this gate until you see the dark red National Forest Boundary marks on some trees. Park anywhere and start hiking left off of the road toward the canyon. Topo Quad(s): Fern, Mountainburg SE Gradient: 86 fpm Length: 7 mi. from Devil's Canyon to Hwy 215 Season: RAIN Gauge: If the rapid above the 215 bridge appears to be runnable then it should be at a runnable level. The run is at the bottom of the creek, so the appearance of this rapid is a direct reflection of the conditions upstream. The higher the water the better the ride over the slide drops upstream. The Mulberry should probably be around 5 ft. or more, but it is not a great gauge for Mill Cr. if rains are localized. Hazards: strainers, undercut ledges and boulders Description: This is a strange, but cool Ozark creek. If you are crazy enough to carry down into one of the steepest canyons in the Ozarks, Devil's Canyon, you'll be rewarded with a very small creek that has some good drops but little water. This creek merges with the main branch of Mill Cr. about 1/2 mile downstream, and until this confluence there is rarely enough water to boat. The first two miles of the creek are fairly uneventful, with constant easy class II drops and a couple of tougher rapids. Then the next mile is a portage, with bunches of trees dropped into the creek by the tornado that ravaged Fort Smith in 1996. It almost looks as if the area has been clearcut and the trees left to rot. The only bright side to this is that it gives you lots of time to admire the interesting bluffs that rise up to the left of the creek. After a long, ugly walk, the trees end, and fortunately they don't return. This is where the second access point is - a much better place to put in. After this point the creek gets quite interesting as it cuts down through several layers of sandstone and shale, creating numerous small falls and slides. The biggest of these is Charlie's Slide which can be recognized by a car sized boulder that sits dead center just upstream of the slide. The creek drops 10 to 15 feet over a very cool low-angle side drop. The rapids for the next three miles are predominantly easy class III drops that are nearly continuous. Stay alert for a couple of potentially nasty undercuts that can sneak up on you if you get too complacent. At high water the surfing is about as good as it gets in the Ozarks. True eastern style boating in your backyard. Not as hard as it's tributary Little Mill Cr., Mill Cr. has a bigger watershed and will be runnable when other creeks in the area are not going. The first known kayak run of Mill creek was in 4/98 by Charlie "No Paddle" Stotts, Steve "Treedini" Robertson, and Bill "Pickled" Herring, a truly crazy bunch of boaters.
Rating: IV (IV+) TDCR: 7895 Location: Drive north on Hwy 215 from I-40 (the Mulberry exit) about five miles to the bridge over Mill Cr. This is the takeout. To reach the put-in, go north from the Mill Cr. bridge on Hwy 215 approximately 3 miles. There you will see an Ozark National Forest sign on the right. Go past this sign and look for the first well-maintained road on the left (it should be fairly obvious, since the others "roads" are old logging roads and skitter trails). Follow this road until it dead ends at a berm. There is a trail that has been beat down to the left of the bern, and a big 4WD truck can make it down, but it is only a 1/3 mile drag down to the creek, so why not park at the top. Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg SE Gradient: 330 fpm Length: 1.5 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Mormon Cr. is tiny. It doesn't need much water to make a good run, but the level will not hold long at all. It can generally be paddled for only a couple of hours follwing heavy downpours of rain. Look for 2+" in under 2 hours to pump the creek up. The Mulberry should be flooded, probably 8 feet or higher on the Mulberry gauge. A visual check should be made at the Mill Cr. bridge (the take-out). Mill Creek should be bank-full or better, meaning ALL of the rocks in the rapid above the bridge should be covered and the water should be very muddy. If you get to the put-in and there looks like there's enough water to scrape down in a boat, it's probably a good level. If you're not scraping down the first long slide, the level is extremely high and hazardous. Hazards: The 20+ foot drop of Mammer Jammer is certainly a serious hazard! The entire creek is fast and shallow, so it is nowhere to be upside down in your boat! Trees can be (and usually are) a serious threat. Often, you may not have any eddies to stop in for long distances, and with the extremely narrow streambed, trees can easily block the entire creek. Scouting ahead from every you can get in eddy is a very good idea, and be prepared to hit a tree somewhere on the run. Description: Mormon Creek was first run February 15, 2001, by Steve "Dog" Robertson and Micah "Nick" Adams. Mormon creek does not have a name on any maps, but the closest landmark is an old Latter Day Saints church, and thus the name. It begins as a small sandstone ditch that is almost laughable when one considers this a "runnable" creek, however it is not to be taken lightly. The put-in starts one of the longest slides in the Ozarks, at least 1/2 mile long, with numerous 3 to 6 foot ledges to generate interest. There aren't any major tributaries to Mormon Cr., but hundreds of little creeks cascading down the sandstone/shale bluffs gradually contribute to the water level and volume picks up steadily as you go downstream. Several bigger ledges signal the beginning of the gorge, so when you encounter these, it's time to strap on your seat belt. At high water, the creek will come at you incredibly fast with few eddies to stop in. The first major drop, "UH", is a nice "sluice- with-rocks" type drop of about 6 to 8 feet. Pull out to scout this and the next rapids too, since it is followed immediately by "OH", a 12-15' near vertical slide with a shallow landing. Recover quickly because at the end of the pool (25 yards) below OH is "Snake Eyes", a potentially nasty class IV drop. This whole area is reminicent of a tea-cup style series of drops, dropping a total of 15-20 feet onto a sandstone slide that ends in a pool. The rapid gets its name from the large boulder that looks like a dice (showing the number two) lodged in the left side of the drop. At low water, the drop should be run from the left at a 45 degree angle to the right; at high water run it anyway you can! Now, you're in the heart of the gorge, consisting of a narrow, winding closed in sandstone trough surrounded by undercut sandstone and shale walls. The big drops are surrounded by huge undercut bluffs that look like a backdrop to an Anasazi village. After Snake Eyes there is constant class III until the biggest drop is encountered: the Mammer Jammmer. This class IV+ monster is a 20-25' drop that begins as a vertical 10' drop before landing on a 60 degree angle slide. At low water levels the majority of water flows over the right side of the drop producing a vertical drop that crashes onto a rock shelf. The drop is not safely runnable on the right line at any level! The optimal route is the far left where the water has worn a "V" in the lip of the drop, followed by a steep slide to the bottom. No mater what line is used, boofing the drop is not a good idea at all. Mammer Jammer is follwed by one a good class III drop called "Sycamore". This one consists of a double drop connected by a slide. Watch out for the sycamore tree at the bottom of the first drop; the only route shoots you directly into the giant undercut roots of the Sycmore. If you don't get pinned on the roots you're off to a nice ride down the slide/drop. This is followed by one of the most beautiful corridors of hanging plants/waterfalls in the Ozarks. The rapid under this natural wonder is named "Bobsled", since it feels like running a bobsled track through an ethereal setting. After the big drops above, the rest of the run is cake, with lots of fast class III drops to paddle. When you get to Mill Cr., it will be big and bad, like a high water run on the Hailstone with huge waves. There are also many surfing opportunities on the paddle out, with dozens of Lee Cr. style surfing holes and waves. You'll probably be completely worn out when you reach the take-out bridge. Mormon is a tiny little creek that does some big things when it comes to slides and waterfalls. Like Horsehead Cr. and Rattlesnake Hollow, the biggest challenge for a paddler will be stopping. If the water level is very high at all, you may not be able to stop if there is a tree down in the creek, or you may be swept over a drop you'd rather not run. Make sure you're comfortable paddling this type of sub-micro steep creek before you put on.
Rating: II TDCR: 2314 Location: Newton, Johnson, and Franklin Co.; S1: Take Hwy. 23 north of Ozark form I-40. Put-in at Wolf Pen Recreation Area on NFR 1003 east of Hwy. 23. Take out at Redding Campground on NFR 1003. (Alternate take out is Byrd's Campground east of Redding.) S2: Take out at Hwy. 23 bridge. S3: Take out at Milton Ford on NFR 1501 west of Hwy 23. S4: Take out at Hwy. 215 bridge north of Mulberry. (Alternate take out is dirt road south of Shores L.) Area Map Topo Quad(s): Oark, Yale, Cass, Watula, Cravens, Mountainburg SE Gradient: S1: 20 fpm S2 - S4: less than 15 fpm Length: S1: 15 mi. S2: 4 mi. S3: 9 mi. S4: 20 mi. Season: SPRING, FALL, WINTER Gauge: Call the Corps at 501-324-5150 for a reading. Should be between 2.0 and 5.0 ft. for a safe run. Also call Turner's Bend Store at 501-667-3641 for a reading. LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: minor strainers, fast current Description: Not enough can be said about this beautiful class II river in the heart of the Ozarks. I won't attempt to describe the entire river here, but Kennon's "Ozark Whitewater" guidebook is a great source for information. S1 is a bit tougher than the remainder of the river, and it can approach class III in difficulty in very high water. Most of the time the river is suitable for beginning canoeists with some whitewater experience.
Rating: IV+ (V) * TDCR: ???? Location: Newton Co.; To reach the put-in go south from Deer on Hwy 16 then turn right just past Deer Church on outskirts of town. After about 2 miles, turn right again on smaller dirt road descending a hill. Go straight to hit creek directly, or turn left and follow road that parallels creek until it ends. For directions to take-out, see EFLB description. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Deer, Swain, Murray Gradient: 190 fpm (1/2 mi @ 320 fpm) Length: 9.8 mi. (this includes 8 miles on normal EFLB run) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Must have mucho big rains for this one. The EFLB takeout should be roaring. Hazards: difficult rapids, strainers, waterfalls Description: The designation "Mystery Creek" for this extreme upper section of the EFLB began as an inside joke because when this run was first being considered, the name of the creek was not divulged even to close friends until the day of the run. It is often called "Sandy Springs Hollow" these days, since that's the name of the small hollow at the put-in. It is believed that the first run putting in at elevation 1840 ft occurred on November 14, 1993. The first descent party included David Bibbs, Don Calaway, Cowper Chadbourn, Charles Chevaillier, Bill Keathley, Jim McDaniel, Ted Smethers, and Gil Wooten, all in kayaks. An early put in is strongly advised. The first descent ended well after dark, leading to interesting conversations with locals and forcing some late night hiking along the roads that parallel the lower portion of the EFLB run. Due to the gradient and tiny watershed, water levels can fall before you complete the upper section. The creek starts out with some fast but easy slides. A class III ledge adds some excitement before the creek is choked by boulders into a much more serious rapid. At lower water, pins are likely here and for the next half mile or so. At higher water, a downed tree will be life threatening in the extremely high gradient. The highlight of the run is "Rooster's Two Step", named for the 3 ft step above the 12 ft waterfall, first run by David Bibbs, AKA "The Rooster". The approach is a blind curve to the left with one potential eddy on the right side of the curve. If you boat around the corner, hang on tight! After the "Rooster" the gradient is serious and the rocks are big and often ugly. Several bad sieves appear at low levels, making for mandatory portages. Higher water opens things up, but it can be hard to slow down and a flip will result in a serious beating. When the main EFLB stem comes in from the right, the gradient backs off, but with the added flow, there are several spots with sycamores that present serious hazards. Scout anything you can't see until you reach the normal EFLB put in. The EFLB will be big and brawny at these levels - possibly the wildest part of your day! Sandy Springs is as difficult a steep creek as the Ozarks has to offer and it requires a much greater skill level than the EFLB run itself does. It rates right up there with the hardest Ozark hair runs. If there's any doubt put in on the EFLB. Thanks go to Cowper Chadbourn for information on the creek!
Rating: III-IV TDCR: 7666 Location: The put-in is located just north of Compton, AR in the northwest corner of Newton Co. Take Hwy. 43 north from Compton about 1/2 mile and take the first dirt road to the left. There is a sign for an iron works place at the turn off. The put-in bridge is about 1/2 mile down this. ASK FOR PERMISSION to park near the bridge. The owners of the house near the bridge are extremely nice, and they generally don't mind boaters parking there if they ask to do so. To reach the take-out bridge, go across the creek and take a right. You'll climb a hill and go about 2 miles before taking another right. Go about 3 miles to the small burg of Delmar and take another right at the intersection. You'll cross a small low water slab and go about one more mile to a small bridge across Osage. Park near the bridge and don't block the road. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Ponca, Osage NE Gradient: 80 fpm (first 2 miles @ 130 fpm) Length: 6 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Osage is probably runnable when the Buffalo R. is about six inches or more over the Ponca low water bridge, but the watersheds are not very close, so Osage can be up when the upper Buffalo isn't that high. The best place to gauge the stream is at the put-in. If the first ledge below the bridge has water across most of the ledge (between the big bush and the left bank) then the run is good to go. If the first ledge is wall-to-wall muddy water and the hole there looks really bad, the run through the gorge will be extremely dangerous, sporting some of the worst keepers in the state. You can also predict the levels using the Buffalo R. river and rain gauges which are linked below. The Compton rain gauge is in the Osage Cr. watershed, and it will usually take an inch-an-hour rate of rain to bring the creek up. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: big drops, undercuts, boulder sieves, hydraulics, strainers, a fence in the last two miles Description: Osage Cr. is a gem of an Ozark creek run. With a short shuttle, easy access, a good watershed, A+ scenery, and a 2 mile gorge boxed in by bluffs and chock full of class III+ rapids, what's not to love? The first attempts at running the creek were made in the late 1970's by some of the BOC crew who were bored with the Hailstone, and it was re-explored in April of 1997 by Bill Herring, Howell Cox, and Jim Jernigan when all rapids were run. This run is tougher than the average gradient would seem to indicate. You know you're not dealing with the average Ozark creek when you see the put-in. The run starts off with a bang by dropping over a big rapid called Starting Gun 15 yards below the bridge. This seven foot class III fall will give you some idea of what is comming up downstream. If this rapid gives you pause, don't venture into the gorge below. It only gets tougher as you go down. Another 40 yards brings you to Old Mill Falls, an eight foot sheer plunge over an old dam. The landing is fairly shallow, but it is easy to boof the drop on the right. For the next 1/8 mile the creek tries to lull you to sleep with some tight class II+ drops. When the drops start picking up steam a little, the first class IV drop comes into view. Bottleneck is a straight shot down the middle of a churning sluice. The entrance rapid is class III, and there is little room to stop before you go into the maelstrom below. The line is obvious and not too hard to make, just don't get upside down - there are several nasty rocks under the surface. A very blind and tight class III+ drop follows Bottleneck and then the next class IV is reached. Howler is a complex drop which requires some tricky maneuvering to reach the final slot drops. The bottom drop is split: the right has a rooster tail in the middle and the left has a chance for a vertical pin. Howler definitely warrants some careful scouting or maybe a portage, both of which are best done on river right. After several back to back class III to III+ drops, you come to a long rapid that looks like a good place for a scout. Get out on the right bank and walk down to take a look at the biggest rapid on the run, Magic Mushroom (aka Moon Landing). The Mushroom starts off with a long class III+ entrance which dumps out onto a sloping shelf. With few good eddies to catch, the creek screams down the shelf for about 30 yards. At the end of this shelf the creek is confined between sheer rock walls on either side and it drops about seven feet onto another shelf. At moderate levels, most of the water is channeled over a sloping ledge to the left. The water banks off the left wall and pushes to the right below the drop into a huge, slightly undercut boulder. The slide below the big drop continues for over 50 yards around the corner. A huge mushroom shaped rock overhangs the stream on the left below the drop, providing for some of the strangest scenery in the Ozarks. At most levels the Mushroom is a long class IV drop, but at really high levels the combination of the tricky entrance and the thundering main falls may push it to class V difficulty. Scouting and portaging here can be very difficult, but a scout is needed. It is best scouted on the right, but the best portage route is on the left, up and over the bluff and back down at the end of the rapid. After the Mushroom, the creek drops through myriad class III and III+ drops. At least two of these cannot be navigated completely at lower levels. One has a good looking entrance only to wash out into a boulder sieve. Scout anything that you can't clearly see in this section. Another nice class III+ drop is encountered near a dramatic double cascade comming in on river right. Several more class III's lead up to the final class IV drop. Switchback is a powerful "S" turn compressed into the space of just a few yards. It may not be as bad as it first appears, but a mistake can result in a dangerous pin on the numerous rocks. Be confident of making the required move or take the easy portage to the left. Below Switchback the action slows down a bit, but several good class III's remain. With the added flow from dozens of tributaries, some of these contain some fairly sticky hydraulics, so don't become too complacent. Finally the gorge recedes and the rapids moderate to continuous class II+ for the last few miles. There are still many bad strainers and one badly placed wire fence to negotiate, so stay on your toes until you get to the takeout bridge. If you tackle Osage Cr., be sure that you have solid class IV boating skills. Even at lower levels, the creek can be pushy and it is incredibly blind from the cockpit of a kayak. The rapids are fast, powerful, and very rocky, making the penalties for mistakes quite high. At higher levels the rapids grow exponentially in power and danger. With enough water to make the first hydraulic really bad, the gorge is transformed into a very pushy, blind class IV+ run. Runs of the creek often produce broken paddles, side pins, vertical pins, lost skin, and bruised egos.
Rating: IV-V (P) TDCR: 8966 Location: To reach the put-in go 0.25 miles North from Drasco (intersection of Hwy 5/25 and 92) on Hwy 5/25. Continue North on Five Mile Road 1.75 miles to the first bridge. Please park on the South side of the bridge. To reach the take-out, go approximately 6 miles West from Drasco on Hwy 92 turn North on Hwy 263. Go 1.5 miles and park at the Public Access on the North side of the bridge over Greers Ferry Lake. Topo Quad(s): Drasco and Prim Gradient: 100 fpm (3/4 mile at 200+ fpm) Length: 2.4 mi (plus a few miles on Racoon and Beech Fork Creeks) Season: FLOOD Gauge: No official gauge. Look for 1.5" or more rain in the area. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. If the bottom bar on the white water-fence at the put-in bridge is partially underwater, it's a definite run. It should really look fairly low at the put-in for a good level. If there's water filling most of the streambed under the bridge, the gorge will be extremely dangerous, and waiting for the water level to drop may be the only good option. Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers. Very tight in places (some very nasty pinning hazards). "Possum Hole" is a portage at higher water. Description: First known descent was January 22, 1999 by Randall Gammill, Lance Jones, Chris Anderson, Cowper Chadbourn, Bill Herring, Steve Robertson, Zack Smith and Billy Williams. Don't let the 100 fpm gradient fool you, that's for the full 2.5 miles of the creek. The first 3/4 mile is only 25 fpm. The meat of the run has a 3/4 mile section at 200 fpm, within lies a 1/4 mile section at 270 fpm and a maximum gradient around 310 fpm. The first 0.75 miles consists of a flat water warm up with a few riffles, followed by a couple of actual small rapids. Then the first notable drop: a little straight forward slide over some smooth boulders. Now the meat begins. The next drop is the "Possum Pinch", fast current that is pinched into a slot just a few inches wider than a boat. The pool below the pinch marks the start of the "big five". The first one, "Road Kill" is a short complex drop of about 10-12 feet, which ends in a nasty slot. The best option is to portage over the right ledge and run the sneak around the bottom on the right. The second is a tight sluice into an S-turn. Enter the sluice, avoid the first pin rock turn hard right over the drop and avoid the second pin rock, then finish with a hard left over the bottom of the drop. The third drop is immediately below. A huge undercut boulder forces the current far left and creates an eddy to the right. Watch out for the vortex sucking things under the boulder. A hard turn to the right around the boulder and off a steep 6 ft drop, followed with a small drop into a small eddy-pool. The fourth drop, "Possum Stew" is a long complex rapid with several rocks and holes to negotiate with a 5-6 foot drop in the middle. This drop was portaged by all during the first descent due to a large tree across the creek. This drop feeds the last of the big five, the "Possum Hole". Large boulders block the path. The left line is through a pyramid shaped hole (at the right water level). The right line requires a hard 90+ degree turn to the left in front of a killer undercut slot (this is one of the worst slots that this boater has ever seen). Portage high on the right or climb over the log debris on the left and wade through another pyramid shaped hole then run the bottom part of the drop. The creek continues intensity with some nice rock jumbles, slides, and ledges. Notable drops are "Boof and Slide", "Snake Eyes" and "Possum Pie", the last being a complex drop (boof-slide, dodge, line up, over the 6 ft narrow drop, avoid the tree and rock partially blocking the outflow). The gradient continues to level off until the confluence with Raccoon Creek. Raccoon contains some good surf waves and decent current in the pools then joins the Beech Fork for some nice volume. Several big waves and big pools and one monster hole near the end. Finish with about a 3/4 mile paddle across the NE corner of Greers Ferry Lake to the Hwy 263 bridge. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek will seem like a very technical class IV, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher levels, several rapids become solid class V. At any level, the creek contains many serious hazards, and any paddlers without experience negotiating undercut rocks on tight, steep creeks should think twice before trying to tame the Possum. Thanks go to Lance Jones and Randall Gammill for information about Possum Walk Creek.
Rating: IV (V) TDCR: 7794 Location: The put-in is reached by crossing Hurricane Cr. 8 miles upstream from Shores Lake on NFR 1003 heading toward White Rock Mtn. Dockery's Gap is fairly close to this crossing. After you cross Hurricane (which should be huge and muddy), go uphill about one mile until you see a good dirt road angling down to the right (this road is not on USGS maps). Follow this small, rough road about a half mile or so until it crosses Rattlesnake Hollow (4WD is a very good idea). The best idea in my opinion is to run the creek down to where it crosses an old logging road right before it runs into Hurricane Cr. From here, brushwhack up on the left side of the creek (the left facing downstream on Rattlesnake), angling away from the creek gorge as you go up. The slope is not too bad. After about 150 to 200 yards (or so) you should run into a good dirt road. Follow this back to the left (back toward the creek) and stay on it as it paralells the creek gorge and climbs back up to the put-in. If you don't stop and rest too much, you can make it back up in less than 30 minutes of easy boat dragging. If you really want to, set shuttle on Hurricane Cr. down near Shores Lake and paddle down the 8 miles of class II water and trees. If you take the hiking option, Rattlesnake can be run and shuttled in less than 1.5 hours, giving you time for a second run, either on Rattlesnake or on one of the other local creeks. Topo Quad(s): Fern Gradient: 400 fpm Length: 0.6 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: This creek only runs when everything else is in flood. Putting in an no more than an hour after a hard, fast rain (2+" in less than 2 hours) is a must to catch it up. The good news is that you can gauge it by driving to the put-in. The bedrock slide just upstream of the put-in road should have water spreading across it for a good solid run. Everything but the first waterfall can be gotten down with even less water. If there's not quite enough water, simply drive over to nearby Little Mill or Spirits creek for a good run on one of those. Hazards: one big waterfall, downed trees, and continuous water Description: This strange little creek would probably have never been run if the USFS had not made its rather unpopular decision to sell off some timber around Hurricane Cr. and Whiterock Mtn. in 1998. When they did this, they cut a road into this previously inaccessible hollow. As if they had consulted a group of paddlers when they did it, they chose to cross the hollow about a half mile above Hurricane Cr., right above a 25+ foot waterfall. As a result, it was run by Bill Herring and Trey Marley in June of 2000. The short run is easy to describe: about 100 feet of fast water leads to a 25 foot sheer plunge into a small 6 foot deep pool after which a rapid starts and doesn't stop for about 1/2 mile. Then you pull out and carry back up a gentle slope for about 150 yards to the road where you can drag back up to the put-in in less than 30 minutes. The waterfall is potentially the highlight of the run, but like all big falls, it can be dangerous as hell. The first (and to date the only) attempt to run it resulted in a piton into the gravel at the bottom. This author can attest that the impact can be severe. The problem with this fall is that water is spread out thinly over the uneven lip of the drop. It's very easy to hang up on the take-off resulting in a vertical landing in shallow water. If your boat is longer than 5 feet, you're gonna stop very, very abruptly! At very high levels, the fall may be more cleanly runnable, but you're guinea-pigging it if you try. Obviuosly this fall should be scouted carefully both from the top and bottom before any future attempts. The pool below the fall is small and it's washout is blocked by a tree, so you'll probably need to portage at the bottom whether or not you run the fall. From here the creek starts dropping and doesn't stop. If you can pick out individual drops, all but one of them are probably class III. But a severe shortage of boat sized eddys makes everything just blend into one long class IV rapid. If a tree is down (very likely) stopping before you hit it will be very interesting (the creekbed is so narrow that grabbing a rock or tree on the bank is probably the best way to slow down). The crux of the run is a solid class IV drop over multiple ledges about halfway down. This one pinned a boater on the first descent as his boat disapeared completely into a crevice in the rocks. Really, it's pointless to describe any of the drops. If you are really sure you want to run it, strap your seatbelt on below the big fall and just hang on until you reach the bottom! Depending on your sense of adventure and the water level, you'll either be completely exhilarated or terrified by the time Hurricane Cr. comes into view. If the water is high, hiking it on foot first is probably the best way to stay out of serious trouble (it's a terrific short hike when it's dry). Rattlesnake is a crazy, tiny little creek that only a crazy creek boater can appreciate. If that describes you, enjoy!
Rating: S1: III-IV S2: II-III TDCR: 6656 (S1) Location: Newton and Searcy Co.; S1: Take Hwy. 65 north of Conway from I-40 and then Hwy. 16 west of Clinton to Ben Hur. then NFR 1203 north to low water bridge at put-in. Take out at Richland Cr. campground north of Hwy. 16 on NFR 1205. S2: Take out by driving north of Richland Cr. Campground on NFR 1205 and then turn north on NFR 1201 and go to Stack Rock. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Moore, Eula Gradient: S1: 55 fpm (some sections approach 80 fpm) S2: 20 fpm Length: S1: 6 mi. S2: 10 mi. Season: FALL and SPRING Gauge: Low water bridge at the put-in should have between 18 and 5 in. of airspace showing. Richland Campground bridge should have 3 to 1 ft of airspace. The ACC Bulletin Board gauge should read between 3.5 and 5.0 ft. A level of 3.3 on the the Corps On-Line gauge (follow link below) corresponds to approx. 12 in. of airspace at put-in bridge. Levels over these maximum limits easily push the creek into the class IV-V range. You can also predict the levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are linked below. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: dangerous rapids, undercut rocks, bad hydraulics Description: S1 is one of the premier advanced whitewater runs in the state. The first mile is relatively calm but the next five contain several class III-IV rapids including a six foot drop at Richland Falls and others such as Crack in the Rock (III+), Knuckle Buster (III+), Upper Screw Up (III), Lower Screw Up (AKA Shaw's Folly) (IV), and Maytag (III). The most dangerous drop is Lower Screw Up which has a badly undercut rock in the far right hand slot which is the preferred entrance to the rapid, but many of the other rapids can be rough on an inverted paddler (especially at lower levels). At higher levels the water volume and steep gradient can be a very dangerous combination making for a solid class IV-V run (if Richland is too high try Falling Water Cr to the south). A hike up to Twin Devils Fork falls (below Richland Falls) provides some extra scenery, and the rest of the run is very scenic, but it's hard to take your eyes off of the rapids! Only confident intermediates to expert boaters should attempt upper Richland. Be sure you have the requisite eddy hopping, ferrying, and rolling skills or you may be doing more hiking than boating. S2 is more tame, but still provides plenty of good action in the first few miles. The end of this stretch is relatively flat as it approaches the Buffalo R.
Rating: II-III * TDCR: 4464 Location: From I-40 take Hwy 215 (the Mulberry exit) north approx. 3.5 miles and turn left (west) just before you cross over Mill Cr. Stay on the main road always going west until you reach the four-way at Piney. Turn left (west) and go about a mile until the road T's. Take a right and go another mile until you come to a bridge. This is the put-in. To get to the take-out, go back to the T in the road and continue straight (south) at the T. Follow this road until you reach another intersection. Hang a right and go about one mile to the creek. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Mountainburg SE Gradient: 75 fpm Length: 2.75 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Mulberry should be flooded (7+ ft on the gauge). This creek requires some serious rainfall to come up. Hazards: strainers, undercuts Description: First descent on this creek was on 2/21/97, just before a run on Little Mill Cr. to the east. The group was made up of ten boaters: Steve Robertson, Landon Colwell, Alex Woolworth, Zen Boulden, Richard Haley, Kent Peetz, Josh Webster, Eddie Cross, and a guy named Tim. The first 1/4 mile of the creek is clogged with strainers, but there is a good trail on river right to get around the trees. But the next mile is well worth the trouble, dropping 100 ft. in a nice gorge. Class II to III rapids are encountered with no pools to slow things down. Many strainers and some undercuts may also be encountered so be sure to stay on your toes. The very continuous nature of the run makes the hazards much more dangerous than they would be elsewhere. This creek lies somewhere between the Salt Fork and Spirits Cr. in overall difficulty and excitement. It's a good training ground for would be steep creekers who have the skills to handle the pushy, narrow rapids. If you don't then consider Hurricane Cr. or the Salt Fork which are only a few minutes drive to the east. Thanks go to Steve Robertson for information on this run.
Rating: II TDCR: ???? Location: From Poughkeepsie (Sharp County), go north on Highway 58 approximately 1-2 miles. Look for a county road sign marking Hulett Road on the left. There is also single house on the left side jsut north of the road. Take this left and go about 1 mile to low-water bridge. Park on river left side. Please help keep this area clean when visiting! Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: N/A Length: Park and Play Season: RAIN Gauge: The USGS Strawberry River Gauge near Poughkeepsie should be above 2.5 for a low surfable level on the wave. Above 3.7 the surfing is best. Hazards: Initial inspection shows no rebar as wave is made solely by existing bedrock. May be shallow at some levels so watch your head. Description: This is a great park and play wave located just downstream of the low-water bridge on the Strawberry R. The wave is relatively wide with a foam pile at levels of 4 feet and above on river right with glassy surface on the left. Two large eddies on either side provide plenty of recovery and room to wait in line. The wave train below the surfing wave has some smaller waves that some might find entertaining. Higher levels make for ideal conditions for kayaks and expert open-boaters. As the level drops, it becomes friendlier to less-skilled boaters. Thanks to Roger Head for information on his great play wave!
Rating: II-III TDCR: 4454 Location: Take Hwy. 215 (Mulberry exit) north from I-40 to Shores Lake. Go south of the lake, cross Hurricane Cr., and continue uphill past the dam and lake overlook. Take a left (north) at the first four way intersection and drive three miles. Take a left at the second four way intersection and drive two more miles to a low water bridge at the put-in. The take-out is back at Shores L. Try to take out on the north end of the lake to avoid as much flat water as possible. With a little quick shuttling, you may be able to catch Spirits Cr. or Hurricane Cr. after you take off, assuming the Salt Fork didn't completely wear you out. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Bidville Gradient: 75 fpm Length: 4 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: The only way to be sure is to check at the put-in bridge. The first ledge on Hurricane Cr. below Shores L. bridge should be covered completely, and the Mulberry should probably be over 6 ft. Hazards: Numerous tree strainers and willow jungles. Scout all blind curves! Description: This great little run is one of the best kept secrets in the Ozarks. Fast paced class II+ rapids characterize the majority of the run, but there are a few legitimate III's at any level and the majority of the run may be pushy III at higher water. Great surfing opportunities abound in the second half of the run. In some places there are four or five good surfing holes separated by only a few yards. But don't get too relaxed by all of that playing, because there are a few spots with some nasty strainers. Be extremely careful around willow jungles and blind turns. Some of the most challenging rapids and the best scenery occur right at the end of the run, and then the feisty little Salt Fork disappears under Shores Lake. You can take out anywhere on the lake, but it's best to drive to the picnic areas on the north side. Just make sure you don't paddle over the 30 ft. dam on the south end. The fall won't kill you but the landing might. Salt Fork is a good run for paddlers comfortable on tight, fast class III water. If you can't maneuver in these conditions, try a run on Hurricane creek on the other side of Shores Lake.
Rating: III-V * TDCR: 8878 Location: Newton Co.; Take USFS Road 1206D (unmarked dirt road) north of Hwy. 16 from Deer till you pass Alum Cove. Before you reach Wayton, there are two dirt roads in quick succession that head west (to the left). Shortly after these a single dirt track heads due east at a 90 deg. angle to the main road. Take this road and drive about 1/2 mile then walk the trail leading downhill and to the east 1/2 mile. When you reach the bottom of the gorge head left and you will intersect the creek. This is the put-in. Take out at the bridge south of Parthenon. (NOTE: the creek is labeled as West Fork Shop Cr. on my Parthenon topo quad. Spellings of "Shop" Cr. may vary.) Area Map Topo Quad(s): Deer, Parthenon Gradient: 120 fpm (upper gorge is 200 fpm) Length: > 6 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: The EFLB should be flooded for a run on Shop Cr. A put in soon after very heavy rainfall is required for a run. Hazards: Strainers, tight and technical drops, undercuts Description: Shop Cr. was first run by Randy Jackson and Robert Handford in March 1988. It has been run only a few times since. It is a very steep, tight, technical run with solid, continuous class III-IV rapids in the upper 200 fpm section. Big rocks form big, continuous drops with lots of hazards. Major drops include (but are not limited to): Hypermart (IV), Checkout Line (V), Blue Light Special (III+), Express Lane (III), No Refund (III), and Thanks for Shopping (III+). Above and between Hypermart and Checkout Line the creek is nearly continuous class III+. All boaters should have very, very advanced skills and be confident on tight class IV+ water. Be prepared for severe consequences if you underestimate the difficulty of this run or overestimate your skill. A high water trip in June, 2000 resulted in several very good paddlers walking out of the gorge, and one needing dental work. Be careful out there. Thanks to Shelby Johnson for information on this creek.
Rating: III-V TDCR: 8986 Location: Newton Co.; Two put-ins are possible. The first of these is off of Shiloh Rd. that turns East off of Hwy. 21 near Mossville (this is the road the the EFLB takeout). Follow this road for a short distance until you come to a USFS timer cutting area on the right (look for the signs). If you cross a cattle grate you've gone too far. Park on the right in the timber cutting area, and hike down to the creek on the left had side of the road (also USFS land). The hike is almost 1/4 mile and is way downhill. Once you get down, you'll darn sure be running the creek! A much better put-in is found by taking the second dirt road to the left after passing the Hwy. 21 Smith Cr. bridge on your way south to Mossville. (NOTE: This put-in is private property but the owners don't mind paddlers using it for a put-in when the creek is running. Please treat the land with great respect and pick up any trash you find, so we can make sure the access to this great creek run continues.) Thanks to the owners improving the road, you may be able to drive this road all the way to the creek if you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle. The first hill is a real doozy to get back up though, so you may want to do a little shuttle scouting to be sure you want to try it! Once down the first hill (either in your vehicle or dragging your boat) bear to your right and follow the road to the Southwest. At the bottom of the first hill, another road/trail branches off and goes more steeply downhill and to the Northwest. This road will take you just below the Lower Gorge and is a good spot to take out. When you get to the creek you can put in for the Lower Gorge, or you can follow the road upstream over a couple of small tributaries about 1/4 mile to get to the Upper Gorge. A take-out at the Hwy. 21 bridge is possible but not recommended since it requries paddling the lower creek which has many fences across it and is surrounded by private land. Unless you can somehow duck the fences, the lower creek cannot be run without portaging, so you'll have to seek permission from landowners first. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Boxley, Murray Gradient: 130 fpm (upper 2.5 mi. @ 180 fpm) Length: 2 to 5 mi. (depending on put-in and take-out) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Generally 3 to 6 ft of water over the low water bridge over the Buffalo R. at Ponca is a good indicator. At the Hwy 21 bridge over Smith Cr. no rocks should be visible in the flow near the bridge and the water should be muddy. The creek is only runnable after extremely heavy local rains. You may be able to predict the levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are linked below. The Ponca and Buffalo Tower gauges are the ones to watch. 2+ inches of rain in a few hours may be enough to produce a good run. If the creek looks flooded at the put-in, it probably is, and you'll be portaging class VI nightmares in the gorge if it's that high! LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: strainers, undercut rocks, barbed wire fences (above upper gorge and below lower gorge), severe rapids, hydraulics Description: First run in May, 1995 by Bill and Chanoy Herring and Chris Monroe, this creek has two of the toughest gorges in the Ozarks (the Lower Gorge may have been partly explored as early as 1978). The uppermost put-in is a 1/4 mile climb down from a dirt road East of Mossville. From this location the creek drops at a rate of over 180 fpm for the next 2.5 miles with continuous class III rapids and many nasty deadfalls that must be portaged. One mile from the upper put-in, the creek drops more than 60 ft. in 1/10 mi. and is choked to less than 5 ft. wide by several house sized boulders in the stream bed. The result of this is a nasty class V+ gorge! When you see the creek choking down to a really narrow slot on river left, eddy out immediately and portage on the left (where there is an old roadbed). The first drop is very questionable, and if you accidentally enter this gorge, it may be the last thing you ever run! One half mile later you'll arrive at the put-in for the lower gorge run. From this access point to Hwy. 21 is only about 3 miles, but the first of those miles is very intense. After a half mile of fast class III water you'll encounter the Lower Gorge where the creek drops 100 ft. in 1/3 mile. This gorge features back-to-back class IV-V rapids. The major rapids encountered in the Lower Gorge include: Little Bull (IV), Looking for Trouble (IV), Trouble (V+), Crack in the Rock (IV), Gunbarrel (III+), Smith Falls (IV+), Box Sluice (III), and Whippersnaper (III). All of these rapids have been run at certain water levels, but each of them harbors undercut traps. All should be bank scouted very carefully. Taken as a whole, the Lower Gorge is basically a long class V whitewater rapid. Indeed, at moderate to high water levels, the continuous nature of the rapids from Looking For Trouble down to Smith Falls may commit the paddler to running all of these drops at once. Little Bull pushes 75% of the creek into a big undercut on the right, Trouble is basically an undercut rock sieve, Crack in the Rock funnels about half of the water in the creek under and through a big ledge, and a very large undercut just below Smith Falls has already been the site of a near accident. Needless to say you'd better have 100% confidence in your ability to run a clean line through these tricky drops! After the Lower Gorge the creek settles down to a continuous class II-III run until its confluence with the Buffalo R. Due to private land and fencing across the creek (do not try to remove these fences!) the creek is not really boatable below the Lower Gorge. Take out on the trail at the end of the Lower Gorge and hike back up the hill to get to your vehicle. Smith Cr. is a very serious run due to the extreme hazards encountered in the two inner gorges. The gorges are short, but don't expect to get through or around them quickly. If you're not a seasoned creek boater, you may find yourself doing a lot of hiking as you try to "run" the creek.
Rating: I-III TDCR: 3355 Location: Van Buren County; S1: On Hwy 16 after going through Alread and Rupert, turn left onto Anchor Rd. just past the Pleasant Grove Church. When Anchor T's turn right onto Brock Rd., and when Brock splits go right and then onto Moonlight Rd. 2WD's can park up on the hill and drag down. 4WD's can continue down the hill on a woods road to a lower parking area, and then put in on the river at a 4 wheeler crossing at N35 38.537 W092 44.649, take out is on river left at the ford below Koown Hollow on FR 1342 at N35 33.193 W092 43.869. S2: Put in at FR 1342 crossing below Koone Hollow, or at lower end of Brushy Fork (4wd only), or about a mile downstream on FR 1307 (Slick Rock Road). This road has recently been improved and offers better access for all vehicles, take out on river left at the low water bridge in Gulf Mt. WMA on Cottonwood Rd. at W35 34.275 N092 39.762, which runs north south connecting Lo Gap to Gulf Mt. Rd. Warning, the large culverts can trap you at the higher levels. S3: Take out at the Lo Gap bridge at N35 34.182 W092 37.286 on river right above the bridge. Landowner permission required, see description below. S4: Take out is at Hwy 95 bridge on river right. Topo Quad(s): ? Gradient: 12 to 66 fpm (depending on section) Length: S1: 9 mi. S2: 7.0 mi. S3: 3.5 mi. S4: 5.0 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: The minimum level on the USGS gauge at Clinton is around 7.0 feet for S1, 6.0 for S2, and 5.5 for S3. A level check can be made at both the Hwy 95 bridge and at the low water bridge with culverts on Cottonwood Rd. At Hwy 95, water should be pooling on river right above the bridge where the woods road enters. At the low water bridge, 4" of water passing through the culverts is the necessary minimum for a S3 put in. Hazards: Downed tree tops, logs, and strainers are likely, one wire cable across creek in S1. Description: The South Fork of the Little Red is a very scenic river loaded with rapids. S1 is very rain dependent and starts off with lots of rock bumping action and a 66 fpm gradient. It's low volume at first, with narrow, technical rapids. The upper run has very few pools, and is only suitable for boaters with good boat control, elbow pads, and a sturdy hull. Depending on rainfall, one rapid may be class III. A logged area about 2 miles down is a good place to watch for strainers. At around 4 miles, Wilson creek enters from river left and the river picks up speed. About mile 8, hunters have placed a wire cable (N 35 33.725 W 092 44.738) across the creek above Koown Hollow, probably in order to walk across the river during hunting season. Signs of downed cables were also present and should be watched for in this area. The cables we last encountered were about 12" above our heads. A warning sign has been placed on a tree upstream from the cable, and the cable has also been painted. S2 at 7 miles is more pool drop, allowing more enjoyment of the scenery. Around mile 5, as the river turns left, the Root Wad rapid, with a snag waiting at the bottom is located at N35 33.877 W 092 41.390 and can be trouble. Two miles later the low water bridge on Cottonwood Rd. in the WMA is reached. Take out is on river left at the bridge. Be careful, as the large culverts can be a trap at the higher levels. S3 flows through 3.5 miles of nice scenery and ends by passing first by a low water bridge under a historic wooden suspension bridge and then under the new CR 9 bridge at Lo Gap. Permission from the landowner at Bear Hole Hollow Farm must be obtained prior to using this location as a take out or put in. Do not drive through the gate onto the property. Drag your boats in/out instead. S4 offering 5.0 miles, is more nice scenery at a slower pace with some fun rapids, a set of nice surfing ledges, and a few camps dotted along the banks. Take out is just above the Hwy 95 bridge on river right. Thanks go to Chester for info. on this run!
Rating: III+ TDCR: ???? Location: Spadra creek runs through the middle of Clarksville, AR. The main take out is in the middle of town where Main Street Bridge and Cherry Street Bridge cross the creek. Go down to the stone building beside the creek to park your car. To get to the put-in, turn at the stop light beside the Southern Flames Music Theater and head up toward the College of the Ozarks. Right after the College, the road splits off. Take the road to the right and stay on it until you cross two bridges. The second bridge goes over Spadra creek. This is where the gauge is. You can put in here or you can keep going up the road until another road comes in on the left. Turn left and go about a mile to the first bridge and and take a another left. Go about twenty yards and put in on the left side of the road. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Clarksville, Ludwig Gradient: 30 fpm Length: 8 or 12 mi. (depending on your put-in) Season: RAIN Gauge: There should be at most 4 feet of airspace under the middle bridge. With less than 3 ft. of airspace you should expect a very pushy run. There is also a gauge on the USGS page. About 4 ft. is minimal on this gauge, over 6 ft is optimal, and over 8 ft. is high and pushy. Hazards: willow strainers, keeper hydraulics, low-head dam (near the end of the run) Description: Just down from the uppermost put-in you will encounter a very nice rapid with good surfing. After this, you will see the bridge. A good hole above the bridge provides an excellent opportunely for 360's, but be careful because the hole immediately below is a serious keeper. Next up are some great surfing ledges. After these, the river splits as it goes through a reclaimed coal mine. Take the left fork and watch for trees. Soon after this there is a bad willow jungle. Stay far right in this jungle and you'll be in good shape. A bit more river will bring you to a house on a cliff, where the river pushes up against the cliff. A pourover on river left is a good spot for enders and squirt moves. A long continuous stretch of rapids just upstream of the middle bridge ends with Nomie's Rapid (Nomie swam this one on a very cold day!). After the middle bridge (the second put-in), you'll have waves, holes, and willows for the next 3 miles. After this is Quarter Mile Rapid, a long series of waves and holes. At high levels the holes are huge and sticky, so stay on your toes here. After a few more rapids, you'll encounter a large, ugly willow jungle. You can recognize the spot by the camp and water pipe on river right. To run the willows, take a left, then another left, and finally another left when you see a Chevy with a tree sticking through the hood. About a mile after this hazard there are a few fences across the creek. Be careful around these. After the fences, you will have a few rapids and pools and then an some buildings (an old water plant) and an old dam will loom ahead. Take the chute to the right around the dam. The hydraulic below the dam is a death trap so be sure you get to the right to avoid it. Next up is Water Plant Rapid. It is the biggest on the river and a scream at any water level. The next time the river splits take a left, and then take a right and cross a big downed tree. The take-out is on the right just downstream of the two bridges. Also, remember that most of Spadra Cr. is on private land, so respect the rights of local landowners and try to keep the creek and the land around it clean. If there is very much water at all, all boaters on Spadra should be comfortable with big, pushy class III water and big holes (similar to the Ocoee R. in Tennessee, but less continuous). Thanks to Noah Fraiser and Curtis Milsap for the description of this great creek.
Rating: III TDCR: 5464 Location: Take Hwy. 215 (Mulberry exit) north from I-40 to Shores Lake. Go south of the lake, cross Hurricane Cr., and continue uphill past the dam and lake overlook. Take a left (north) at the first four way intersection and drive three miles. Take a right at the second four way intersection and drive a mile to a low water bridge at the put-in. To reach the take-out, go back the way you came and hang a left at the first four way (back toward Shores L.). When you reach the next four way (should look familiar) turn left and drive one mile to the wooden bridge over Spirits Cr. This road is the Capmbell's Cemetery road that goes to Cass. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Bidville Gradient: 75 fpm (1st mile @ 100 fpm) Length: 4 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Mulberry R. gauge should be greater than 8 ft. and Hurricane Cr. should look high and muddy. Runnable only after heavy local rains. Hazards: dangerous strainers (esp. in 3rd mile), undercut rock at First Ledge Description: This run has continuous class II-III rapids, an extremely narrow stream bed (10 - 15 ft wide), and one 12 ft. class III+ fall (The Funnel at the end of the third mile) that is one of the best drops in the state. It is highly recommended to those who have the skills needed to run the non-stop rapids. Strainers are very common, and usually a portage or two will be needed. The first 1/4 mile can be scouted from a trail on river right to determine a strategy for approaching First Ledge, a five foot class III drop. Avoid the eddy on the left below this ledge. The current flows under a potentially hazardous undercut boulder on this side. The Funnel is the highlight of the run. It is located just after a two ft. sloping ledge with a river wide hydraulic. When the river makes a sharp bend to the right, pull out and scout from the old road on river right. The drop here is over ten feet, and, although it is easier to run than it first appears, it is quite shallow at most levels. An inverted paddler is very likely to lose some skin. A trail on river right makes it easy to carry up and run the big flume again and again. Spirits is a great introduction to the tight steep creeks of the Ozarks, but the very continuous nature of this run can make it dangerous for paddlers with anything less than perfect boat control. All boaters should be confident intermediates before trying to tackle Spirits Cr.
Rating: III-IV+ TDCR: 8983 Location: Take-out is reached by turning north onto County Rd. 8, a gravel road leading from Swain at Hwy. 16 to the low water slab over the EFLB near the Murray Community Center. The turn at Swain is about one mile east of the intersection where Hwy. 21 turns north off of Hwy. 16 to go to Boxley - look for a sign that advertizes for "Pottery and Gifts". Follow this gravel road for a while until it it forks. Take the rougher looking, steep dirt road downhill to the right. Continue driving through the beautiful country until the road turns left alongside the East Fork of the Little Buffalo R. (a possible takeout point for that run). If the water is high, the East Fork may be up over the road - please don't block the road parking as several folks live down in this valley. If the EFLB is not covering the road, there is room for parking on the opposite side of the road from the creek just before you reach the creek crossing. The best put-in for the lower gorge is to drive a bit more than 1.5 miles back up the hill and look for the turnout to park in on the right (again, don't block the road and irritate the landowners!). Carry your boat downhill on the road about a third of a mile to the second culvert funneling water under the road and then start angling downhill away from the road. It's a steep, tough brushwhack, but it's only about a quarter mile long. With some luck you should reach the confluence of Gum Br. and Stepp Cr. (hopefully with all of your limbs unbroken!). It's an excellent idea to consult a topo map (Murray quad) and explore this little hike before the day of your run to work out the logistics. IMPORTANT NOTE: a small road near the takeout follows the EFLB upstream and crosses Stepp Cr., but this is private property and the landowner doesn't want visitors - please respect his privacy and DO NOT DRIVE UP THIS ROAD. Thanks! Topo Quad(s): Murray, Swain Gradient: 150 fpm Length: 1.5 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Stepp Cr. can generally been run with the EFLB at optimal levels or higher. If rain is widespread, a level of 6 feet or higher on the USGS Buffalo at Boxley gauge can be a good indicator. The National Park Service's Swain and Deer rain gauges are great indicators for this run. Look for 1 to 2 inches in a couple of hours. A quick walk up the road that follows the EFLB upstream from the takeout will take you to the Stepp Cr. confluence. If there's enough water to run this last rapid before the EFLB, then there'll be enough water to get down the lower gorge. Don't drive up this road or walk any farther than the confluence though as it runs through private property. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: Continuous severe rapids, undercuts, trees, and sieves. Description: The difficult access to Stepp Cr. led to it being first run somewhat accidentally on November 29, 2004. Bill "Fish" Herring and Ryan Center hiked in with boats thinking they would drag down the creek at sub-minimal water levels only to be pleasantly suprised. Stepp Creek's lower gorge starts at the Gum Br. confluence and the action doesn't let up for more than a mile. With a relatively large watershed and long, rocky drops, Stepp compares to its eastern cousin, Bobtail Cr. Both creeks have good rapids even at low levels, and such levels on these creeks happen surprisingly often. In fact, not much more rainfall is required to run Stepp Cr. than for the EFLB itself. At higher water levels, Stepp's gorge ratchets up into the class IV+ range in a hurry. With enough water the nearly continuous, big drops will challenge even the most experienced steep creek boater. The first drop in the gorge is called "Double Bubble" - a blind chute on the right leads to a boulder that can be avoided with a hard cut to the left. Those new to the creek may want to scout this drop and possibly several more below it. The water doesn't stop moving for the next quarter mile. Next is "Thighmaster", named for Ryan Center's bruised upper leg after swimming the log-choked river-left sluice on the first descent. This one can be snuck with a good ferry to the far right slot. The left side is a Z-shaped slot that features a wicked hole that tends to backender anything that passes through it. The hole recirculates under the rock on the right and then the backwash kicks out into another undercut straight ahead. If it sounds bad, it typically looks and boats even worse! Scout this one carefully and set good bank support on the left before trying the sneak or a run of the main slot. The creekin continues with a couple of long drops followed by another slot drop into a surging, boxed-in hole. This is "The Chute" and it is another great spot to set a rope. A short pool leads to a ledge hole that is the start of Stepp Creek's biggest rapid: "Eight Seconds". Like riding an angry bull, a good run in this class IV+ drop will take about 8 seconds. A bad line will take considerably longer trying to escape from holes and pin-rocks! Runs tend to disintegrate here about four or five moves down from the top hole. A number of folks have been thrown off the bull and had some rough rides to the bottom. The next major drop is called "Pac Man": a big boof that kisses the rock is possible on the left or take the twisting route through boulders on the right. Look back upstream at this one - a very cool looking drop! Several more class III+ and IV drops follow, but the pace slows down to a more managable speed after Pac Man. The scenery is fantastic if you can take your eyes off the rapids! If you can find it, there's even a wonderful creek boat ender spot near the bottom of the run - a great way to finish your trip! When you see a field on your right, the banks are private property, so don't get out of your boat and float through quietly so as to not disturb the landowner who lives there. At the confluence with the EFLB, hang a left through the bushes (it's quite possible to swim here!) and paddle 100 yards to your vehicle. Another run on Stepp is possible (known as "doing the two Stepp"), or you can head up the EFLB or over to Thomas Cr. for some more creekin' action! Stepp's lower gorge is a great creek run that has serious hazards, especially when the holes are churning at higher levels - all paddlers need to be able to handle continuous class IV+ water and organize bank support. If you're not prepared, it may give you more excitement than you want!
Rating: IV-V+ * TDCR: ???? Location: There are many Sulphur Creeks in Arkansas; this is the one in the Richland Cr. watershed downstream of Bobtail Cr. Reach the put-in by going North on Hwy 377 from Witts Springs about 3 miles to the edge of the community of Magic Springs turn left on a dirt road. Take the first fork right and the second fork left (90 degree turns). Go about 3/4 mile look for a 4WD drive road to the right (should be on National Forest land now). Road ends very shortly at a small partial clearing with several berms. Park and drag down the ATV/Horse trail past the NF gate until the trail turns sharply to the left. Bushwack downhill, due North, or follow the first rivulet from the trail. Put-in on the South fork of the creek 0.25 above the confluence with the West fork. (elv. 1300 ft). Take out is at Richland Cr. Campground. If the water is high (very likely) may consider accessing from the East. Go North on 377 to Snowball and follow Point Peter road to Richland Creek. Topo Quad(s): Eula, Moore, Snowball, and Witts Springs Gradient: 320 fpm (some sections 500 to 700 fpm) Length: 1.5†mi (plus 3.5 mi on Richland Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: Gauge at Richland Campground needs to be above 6 feet. Look for 2" or more rain at the Tilly and surrounding rain gages, as posted on the ACC Resource Page. Rain must have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers, waterfalls. With 500 and 700 ft/mile sections, this one is steep! Several portages are advised. Description: First known run was April 5, 1997. By Cowper Chadbourn, Lance Jones, Greg Churan and Nathan Kline. Sulphur Creek doesn't have any monsterly tall drops, just lots and lots of 3 to 15 footers. Very blind, very undercut, very tight and extremely beautiful. Several drops land on poorly padded shelf rock, and one funnels 90% of the water into a NASTY undercut cave. Sulphur Creek is 1.5 miles from put-in described to Richland Creek, then another 3.5 miles to the normal Lower Richland take-out. Average gradient on the creek is 350 ft/mile. First mile averages 400 ft/mile, with sections approaching 500 to 700 ft/mile. Sulphur starts out with a very tight slot move leading to the only "waterfall". Run the tight slot in a right hand turn with boat on edge (won't go through flat) onto the shelf rock and hug as close to the large undercut boulder on the right to go over "Sulphur Falls". There is a rock in the middle of the pool at the bottom. (I know, because my bow found it!) A few more tight boulder jumbles follow until the confluence with the West fork. Enjoy this shallow pool, because it's the only one you get. The pool feeds a two-step stair drop of about 6 feet. Scout the next drop from the right. Steep, tight boulder drop with wood in it. (at least during our run) After this, it's all a blur with too many drops to mention. My advice: SCOUT everything you can't see. Some of the drops that stick out are Pin-Rock, The Cauldron, The Cave, many good slots and boofs, and an 8-10 foot drop onto poorly padded rock. One of the last big drops funnels around both sides of a 10-12 foot boulder into a hole in front of another 5-6 ft boulder. Past this one the creek funnels through an opening under two very large boulders. Enjoy a flush down the remainder of Lower Richland. It is highly recommended to hike this creek before attempting a run. Like other micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek will seem like a very technical class IV-V, with much rock bashing, scraping, and many portages. At higher levels, most rapids are expected to become solid class V. Make sure you have plenty of experience on other Ozark steep creeks before you try to tackle Sulphur, and it is a very good idea to hike it before running. (Thanks to Lance Jones for information on this creek!)
Rating: III-IV (V) * TDCR: ???? Location: The creek is found by taking the Town Center exit off of Hwy. 71 North in Bella Vista. Take a left at the light and follow the highway. You will go over the Tanyard Creek bridge - an optional takeout. Further up the highway you will go up a large hill and there will be a sign on the right that says "Lake Windsor Dam". Turn left there, and follow the road to the dam. The creek begins on the east side of the dam below the spillway. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: 65 fpm Length: .75 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Only runnable after very heavy rains. A good indicator would be flooded ponds on any of the golf courses along Hwy. 71 in Bella Vista. Hazards: very swift water, boulders, strainers near the bottom Description: First run on 6/21/2000 by Jason and Robert Bertschy, Tanyard Creek is a very short but dangerous creek. It is a class V/IV/III run, in that order. Fed by Lake Windsor, the whole stretch is only about 3/4 mile, and the intense rapids come in a section only 300 yards long. The put-in is located a little way down a trail that follows the spillway to the north. You must drop in off of a large boulder (it will be obvious) to start the run. The first rapid is a massive drop with an extremely shallow landing. You would probably have to be crazy to run this fall since the potential for injury appears to be very high. Next up is Pennyís Plunge, a 8 to 9 foot drop that can easily push you into an undercut ledge on river right (nicknamed "Sideburns"). Pennyís Plunge should be run on the right. The Plunge can be portaged on the left by following the trail downhill 25 yards. The next rapid, "Gone to Bosnia", signifies that the war has begun. This is a class IV drop of 5 or 6 ft. Next, you encounter "Whereíd He Go", a class III+ drop of 4 feet. This drop produces a large hole that can completely swamp a boat. After this rapid you have about 40 yards before hitting "Headhunter". This is a class II rapid that runs under a bridge which is low enough to take your head off. After Headhunter, the creek slows down and flattens out for the remaining 500 yards. There could be strainers below all the action, so scout well before running. There is NO recovery time on this run, and if you blink you might miss the rapids - but they may not miss you. Only serious boaters should run Tanyard Cr., it is strongly suggested that no one try to run the first drop! Thanks to Robert Bertschy for information about this strange, cool little creek.
Rating: III-IV * TDCR: 6667 Location: Newton Co; Put in is reached by taking Shiloh Rd. east of Hwy. 21 just south of Mossville. Drive for 0.2 miles and take the small dirt road on the right. Descend the hill keeping to the right all the way down. After you pass a small clearing on the left the road switches back to the right. This is a prudent place to park and hike down to the creek (unless you have a really good 4 wheel drive and a winch!). The take out is reached by following the right fork of Shiloh Rd. to the low water slab that is the take out for the East Fork of the Little Buffalo. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Murray Gradient: 110 fpm (upper 2 miles at 140 fpm) Length: 4.5 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Only runnable after heavy local rains. The Buffalo should probably be two feet or more over the low water bridge at Ponca. You may be able to predict the levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are linked below. The Swain and Deer gauges are the ones to watch. LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY) Hazards: killer attack trees, big drops, high gradient Description: First known run of this creek was in March of 1988 by Randy Jackson and his gang. The gradient in the first two miles is a steady 140 fpm. Some big drops are created as the boulder choked creek races down a small gorge. A ten ft. fall is encountered near the beginning of the run. This fall is very rocky at the bottom, and equipment or paddler damage is a very real possibility there. You can portage this one on the left. The next two miles consist of nearly constant tricky class III drops. Stay on your toes in this section. At one point a boulder and log sieve makes for a mandatory 200 yard portage, and strainers can easily block the narrow creek almost anywhere. One of the rapids was dubbed "Action Jackson" in '88 when an undercut on the left of a zig-zag staircase drop swallowed Randy Jackson's paddle. The paddle was retrieved several days later after the water level had dropped. The gradient continues to produce some good rapids until just upstream of the EFLB confluence when everything flattens out for the next half mile. This is a fun run for advanced boaters who are used to narrow, high gradient Ozark creeks, but it could be a nightmare for the unprepared. Get very comfortable on runs such as Richland Cr. before trying Thomas Cr.
Rating: III-IV TDCR: 7672 Location: To get to the put-in, take Hwy 170 from West Fork to Devils Den State Park. Three miles before you reach Devils Den turn right (west) on the Zinamon Church Rd. (unpaved). Follow this road for 1/3 to 1/2 mile and turn left by the American Trash sign (the second left off of the Zinnamon Rd.). Go approx. 1 mile down this road and take the first dirt road to the right (if you reach a house you've gone too far). This road is very rugged and steep and you'll pass several "NO HUNTING" signs on the way down. It's private land, and getting permission from the hunting club that owns it might not be a bad idea. I spoke with a man who lives close to the creek, and he said no one would mind, but it never hurts to double check. Go as far down this road as you dare (4WD is mandatory); the road ends very near the creek. Carry down and put on the creek, or carry downstream on the old roadbed on river left until the creek widens a bit. When you get past the last big rapids, carry back up the old road on river left. No shuttle required. If you want an extended run, you can take out at the bridge near Devils Den, just before the creek joins Lee Cr. It's 4.5 miles to the bridge and chock full of trees most of the way. You can't say you weren't warned. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Strickler Gradient: 180 fpm Length: 0.25 to 0.5 mi. (or 5 mi. to Lee Cr.) Season: FLOOD Gauge: None. Only runnable soon after heavy local rainfall. Drive to the put-in or the bridge near Lee to check the creek. Hazards: tight and continuous rapids, overhanging limbs and strainers Description: This small stretch of Ellis Br. was first run in November 1996 by Bill Herring and Randy Childers. The entire creek is runnable, but the most challenging rapids are encountered in the first 1/2 mile. After that point the gradient diminishes and the trees close in - an unpleasant combination. The uppermost part of the creek is very, very narrow and steep, and with enough water (a rare event) the rapids are continuous class III+ for 1/3 mile. After a couple of warm up drops, a large class III+ staircase drop is encountered. After some serious tree dodging there's another big drop. This rapid got the name Runaway Rapid when Bill Herring dropped his boat while portaging a tree on the steep left bank above the rapid. The boat successfully made a first descent of the rapid before it was extracted from the creek. This rapid is actually a series of falls dropping more than 15 feet. The right side of the second drop is a vertical pin waiting to happen, and the last two drops are the largest and fastest. Hit an eddy very quickly after Runaway because a deadfall blocks the creek just around the corner. After quite a bit of fast action another large drop comes into view. This one consists of a fairly straightforward single drop over a slanting rock. This is the last of the big drops on the creek, and it may be to bony to run if the water is not high. Unless the creek is really roaring, it's probably a good idea to pull out on the left just below Runaway, and start the short drag back up to the car. If you go further down, the gorge gets deeper, making it harder to carry out. As a result of it's proximity of Fayetteville (35 min) and the potential for a very short but exciting kayak run, Ellis Br. makes a good one to catch when heavy midday rains bring the creeks up but there's not enough daylight for a longer run. All boaters should be good at rock dodging in tight class III-IV rapids, and a flip could be a very bruising experience. Pinning is par for the course, but bank support for pinned paddlers is easy to set up ahead of time on this ultra narrow creek.
Rating: IV-V (P) TDCR: 8995 Location: Whistlepost is entirely on private land, so be very careful to not trespass on your way to the creek. The put-in is reached by taking the Winslow exit off of I-540 and heading East to Winslow. Just before you drop off the hill into town, take a right on a good gravel road. This road is Bunyard Rd. which eventually crosses over the freeway tunnel. (It's also called Freedom Rd. at it's other end that comes out near the Hart Cr. and Ben Doodle Cr. put-ins. You can drive in from Chester that way too if you prefer.) You'll need to make a right just outside of Winslow and a left a while later. Just stay on the best road surface if in doubt. After 4.5 to 5 miles of driving you'll see a small road turning left with a sign for "Morris Taxidermy". Take this road and take the first left near a house (the taxidermy shop) about 1/4 mile down. You'll go past some fields and finally come to a nice gravel driveway leading to a house in a field. Turn right at this driveway and follow the dirt road/trail downhill. Unless you have a very high-clearance 4WD you'll want to find a turnout to park in at this point. The road becomes very rough. Either drive or walk downhill on this road until you come to a large field on the right. Go just past the field and look for a road/trail going left toward the creek. Follow this road as it doubles back the way you came and eventually paralells the bluffs of the creek gorge. Stay on the road until it drops down into a timber cut and intersects the creek. Put in on either of the two branches which merge just downstream of the put-in. You're standing right on the Washington/Crawford Co. line at the put in. Don't try to access the put-in from the other side of the creek (the left or East side). That road is gated (twice!) and posted no trespassing! You can either take out on Clear Cr. at Schaberg or at Chester. Schaberg is only 1/2 mile down from the Whistlepost and Clear Cr. confluence, and it can be reached by taking Schaberg Rd. from old Hwy. 71 at the rest stop near Artist Point. Park on the near side (river left) of the bridges at Schaberg to avoid annoying landowners near the railroad tracks. Going to Chester adds another 5 miles of class II-III water (about 1.5 hours when Clear Cr. is high) to the trip and provides an easier to find take-out. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: 250 fpm (1 mi @ 350 fpm) Length: 2.25 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: This is a very small creek that needs very recent and heavy rain to pump it up. 3" of rain no more than 6 hours before you get there will probably produce a good run. Clear Cr. and McCaslin Br. in Chester should be flooded, and Lee Cr. should be heading for a reading of 15+ feet. There are two tributaries converging right at the put-in. Both should look at least a low-runnable level for a good run. If the right trib is flowing over the road into the left trib, the run will be very dangerous. No more than 200 cfs is needed for a solid class IV-V run! Hazards: Numerous undercut rocks, downed trees, potholes, strong hydraulics, big, continuous rapids. Description: Whistlepost Cr. is probably the best and toughest of Crawford Co. steep creek runs. In fact, its extreme combination of gradient and huge undercut boulders packed into a super-narrow gorge makes for one of the most intense runs anywhere in the Ozarks. First run after a freak summer storm on 6/30/99 by Bill Herring and Steve Robertson, a little water goes a very long way in this small gorge. Minimum, optimal, and high levels are only seperated by a few cubic feet per second of flow. And this is not a good creek to run when it's too high. The run starts at a road crossing where two tributaries merge. The first drops are a few easy class III's, which provide little warmup for what's comming up. When you pass a cascade comming in on the left, you'll be entering "Wet Your Whistle", a 1/4 mile long stretch of class III-IV that never seems to end. Good eddies are really hard to find in this section, and there are some places in it that you don't want to explore. Scout ahead anytime you can get stopped. When you see a dark, cave looking feature up ahead on the right, stop immediately and get out on the left bank to scout "Cathedral". This is one of the most difficult and impressive rapids anywhere in the Ozarks. It consists of four successive falls of four to ten feet in height. The total drop is nearly 30 feet. Huge undercut rocks overhang the rapid from the right, and water sieves into and under these rocks in every drop. The third and shortest drop is the most intense part, and you have to work left fast after it to avoid an undercut and huge pothole on the right. Scouting and portaging are possible on river left. Next you'll have to get to the right bank immediately below the last drop of Cathedral and scout downstream to "Quiet Falls". Don't try to run down to it from Cathedral, since there is not much oppourtunity to stop before you drop over this 18 foot fall. The scout or portage is on the right, and it is extremely tough. It's a 10 to 15 minute trip one way to get around the fall and the grotto that surrounds it. Scout the pool carefully before trying to run Quiet Falls, as wood tends to collect in the pool below. The pool is about 6' at its deepest, and anywhere you land can hit you really hard. The drop following the falls is fairly straightforward on the right, but on the left it has one of the worst undercuts in the Ozarks (nicknamed "Wondercut"). If you run it, stay well to the right. After this drop, scout ahead all the way to the next big drop about 100 yards downstream. This is "Big Nasty", which is not runnable by human beings at normal levels. This combination waterfall/natural bridge/undercut crevice is easiest to portage on the left. If you get close to it, you'll likely be running it, so pick out a good place to stop if you choose to run the class III rapids just above. More class III+ leads to a big class IV drop of about 10 feet. This rapid tends to collect trees, so a portage on the right may be the only good option. About 1/3 mile of continuous, cluttered class III-IV water remains before the creek eases up to class II-III. Don't let your gaurd down in this stretch. After 1/3 mile of easier water, you'll turn right and come along side a man-made rock pile that has a railroad track on top of it. Get out and walk downstream to scout "The Tunnel Of Love". This 6' culvert can be boated into Clear Cr., which runs on the other side of the tracks. The drop into Clear Cr. is about 6 feet and the hydraulics at the bottom are bizzare and could be dangerous. You'll most likely have to roll up against the rock wall that the current pushes into right at the bottom. Clear Cr. will seem huge after Whistlepost, but it's considered a creek run in its own right. Clear Cr. has lots of class II-III action and some really bad trees right above the bridge at Schaberg. You can take out at Schaberg (1/2 mile from Whistlepost) or you can run 5 more miles to Chester. If you go to Chester, watch out for some more big culverts just past the I-540 bridges, and beware of a rebar studded low-water crossing near some ramshackle houses not too far below the freeway. (This author will not run this section of Clear Cr. again, due to holes punched into his creek boat by pieces of rebar!) Whistlepost is an incredible steep creek run, and it is one of the most dangerous runs around. It has more undercuts in one mile than any other creek described in this list! Scouting the creek dry ahead of time may be a requirement for survival. (Besides it's as beautiful to hike as it is to run!) If you've been down Hart Cr. and thought it was no big deal, you'll probably enjoy Whistlepost. If you don't have the skills to handle it, you'll have a lot of hiking to do on your way out of the gorge.
Rating: I-II (III) TDCR: 2231 Location: Several put-ins and take-outs are possible. The river follows Hwy. 71 between Winslow and West Fork. The uppermost put-in is at the ball park in Winslow. Look for a gas station with a gravel parking lot beside it. Park in the lot where the wooden footbridge crosses the small creek. The next public access point is the rest area on Hwy. 71 just north of Brentwood. The next commonly used access is at a green steel bridge, right beside a roadside cemetery, a few miles south of West Fork. The usual lower take-out is at the park just upstream of the Hwy. 170 bridge in West Fork. Park in the lot on river left just upstream of the dam. Topo Quad(s): Winslow, Brentwood, West Fork Gradient: 15 fpm Length: 12 mi. Season: FALL, SPRING Gauge: The White R. at Fayetteville should be 5 feet or higher for a run from the green bridge to West Fork. To gauge the river above that point, just inspect the river from the road. At the wooden bridge in the ballpark at Winslow, the rocks under the bridge should be just about covered for a good run from that point. Hazards: Occasional strainers, undercut at the second ledge Description: The West Fork of the White is one of the most accessible runs in the state, with a major highway following almost the entire run. It comes up farily often, not needing much rain to be runnable in its lower stretches. It offers two class III rapids when it's high and a few nice playspots. But the river is rarely run compared to other rivers in the area. It's hard to guess why this is so, but it sure makes for a pleasant trip down the river. If the water is high, you can put in as high up as Winslow, where the stream has continuous class II rapids and a very narrow, twisting course. A straightforward class III ledge is encountered just after putting in, and another class III (IV on the left side?) ledge that pushes into an undercut left bank is encountered a few miles down under a red metal footbridge. Watch out for strainers in this stretch - it's easy to get pushed into downed trees. The rest stop, about 5 miles from Winslow, is a better put-in if the level looks too low for Winslow. In the next four miles, the creek picks up a lot of volume until it becomes a river. Pools are longer, and rapids in this stretch are generally in the class I and easy II range with some tight corners and a few trees to dodge. Just before the green bridge, additional water from Winn Cr. pumps up the flow even more. This is a good put-in if the water is low. Between the green bridge and West Fork there are some fairly long pools, but a few ledgy class II drops with some nice surfing opportunites make the trip worthwhile. The bluffs on the right just above the dam offer some beautiful scenery as well. Whatever you do, don't paddle over the low head dam at West Fork! The hydraulic can kill, even at moderate water levels. Take out upstream of the dam, or walk around if you want to continue downstream. The West Fork is suitable for beginning paddlers from the rest stop down, and for paddlers who have a good deal of class II-III experience from Winslow to the rest stop when the water is high.
Rating: III-IV * TDCR: 8797 Location: To get to the take out drive west on I-40 turn at the Mulberry exit, go north on Hwy 215. Three miles north one encounters the Mill Creek bridge; be sure to stop and check the level. Continue north for about five miles until Fern at which time 215 curves to the east continue east three milestowards Shores Lake. There will be a sign, "Shores Lake Campground" to the right, take it and go one mile to the bridge crossing Hurricane Creek. This is the take-out. For the put-in be sure to have the Bidville topo and a compass! From the take-out follow Bliss Ridge Road north until it "T's", take a left and go approxiamately one mile until you see an unmaintained road to the left, drive about fifty yards down it until you can find a parking place. This road also serves as access to a hiking trail. You can either follow the hiking trail down to the creek(1.5 mi.)or follow the finger ridge down to the creek. It has a gentle slope until you are about 100 feet over the creek and adds .5 mi. of fun onto the run. If there is any doubt as to the level of the creek...take the trail. Topo Quad(s): Bidville Gradient: 100 fpm (180 fpm in the first mile) Length: 4.5 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Check Mill and Little Mill creeks on the way up 215. They should at the very least appear to be runnable. Hurricane creek should appear to be flooded. Hazards: Several undercuts on White Rock, strainers are present on Hurricane but none to speak of on White Rock. As one nears the conflence with Hurricane on White Rock there is some tornado damage that produces some nasty downed trees and logs. Walk around them! This section is noticable as the creek appears to be clear-cut on either side, so there is plenty of advance notice. These should wash out in the coming years. Description: White Rock Creek is a low-volume creek that runs off of White Rock Mountain - well known by the White Rock Mountain Recreation Area that sits on top of a big outcrop of Atoka sandstone and affords a view unlike any in the area (campsites and hiking trails etc.). Surprisingly the first runnable mile only drops 180 feet, however it boasts continuous III-IV rapids and falls that require previous creeking expirience. There are many falls ranging from 12 to 6 feet in height and inumerable slides, chutes, boulder gardens and the like. White Rock goes about three miles through a deep canyon providing views from the creek bottom that is some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the Ozarks. About one half mile down the creek, one enters a gorge marked by a two-tiered fall of approxiamtely 15 feet. It is runnable as a broken slide on the far right or two vertical drops that are separated by an eddy just big enough to hold a couple of kayaks. The right and left are preferred routes as there is a pile of angular rocks at the center of the base. After another quarter mile of countless drops there appears an entrance to a slide with a large undercut boulder on the right creating a large reaction wave, at higher levels it could be dangerous to a swimmer (foot entrapment) as the entire creek pushes against the base of the rock where there is a slot horizontal to the creekbed just wide enough to fit a swimmer's foot or leg. This one is nicknamed Pizza Bone Rapid. Numerous rapids follow until one comes to a slot (4 to 5 feet wide) that is the entrance to a 10 to 12 foot near vertical slide that ends in a pool surrounded on all sides by an undercut bluff. Micah Adams aptly named it Punchbowl Falls. After Punchbowl the creek runs along and under a bluffline that creates a tapestry of cascading falls running through hanging gardens of ferns and moss for about 200 yards; as you paddle back and forth through the mild rapids under the drip-line the feeling of isolated wilderness is hard to ignore! Numerous rapids follow that gradually lessen in intensity, and soon the gorge ends. However, this does not mark the end of the fun as there are several more six foot drops with a 10 to 12 foot falls I like to think of as Skinnydip Falls (because it has a nice pool and there is a trail in from the road to access it). Not long after this one encounters the confluence of Dry Fork and White Rock which is marked by a 5 to 6' falls/drop on both drainages, Dry Fork Rapid. It may seem to be an end to the whitewater but the paddler should not grow complacent as soon one encounters a fall that may produce a extremely nasty hydraulic at flood stage. This consists of a fall that drops six feet over a sandstone slab that is the most uniform falls I have ever seen; so much so it appears to be man-made(no straight lines in nature). This one is named Shower Curtain Falls because one can easily paddle behind the veil and relax while viewing the cascading water in a tunnel half sandstone, half water. Five of us fit behind it with room to spare.† There are more rapids and drops until one nears the confluence with Hurricane creek where a tornado touched down and produced some nasty log jams, be prepared to walk around them. Hurricane will be flooded, so one should be very careful when approaching trees and strainers. About a mile downstream, Hurricane the creek shoots into and under a bluff. To all appearances from upstream it doesn't look bad, but when viewing it up close you can see an extremely undercut bluff that could be fatal if you became trapped under it as the force of the entire creek is flowing against it. The take-out is about .75 to .5 miles downstream where you'll be glad to see Hurricane Creek Bridge! White Rock Cr. is a good run, but it is very isolated and it is certainly no place for those who are not sure of their abilities on class IV water. White Rock Cr. was first run on 10/6/98 by Micah Adams, Trey Marley, Rob Pollan, Mike Echols and Steve "Dog" Robertson. Thanks to Steve Robertson for the write up on this one!
Rating: II-IV TDCR: 5563 Location: Howard Co.; Put in from Weyerhauser Rd. 52000 heading west from 52200 east of the section 2 put-in for the Cossatot. Take out at the Hwy. 4 bridge over Baker Cr. just east of the Cossatot bridge. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Baker Springs Gradient: 75 fpm Length: 3.5 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: The Corps gauge for the Cossatot should be between 2000 and 4500 cfs. Hazards: several large drops in the first mile, some strainers Description: Baker is a short but exciting advanced whitewater run. It drops very steeply in the first mile, and the worst drop is encountered in the first bend of the creek. This is a solid class IV ledge of over ten feet, and at high water an ugly hydraulic forms at the base of the ledge. Scout and/or run it on the left. After some good class III water, you get another horizon line. This is another big, tough ledge that is only slightly easier than the first one. After the first 3/4 mile or so the creek settles into some good class II-III action until the takeout. All boaters should be confident on fast class III-IV water before running Baker Cr. If you get nervous at Cossatot Falls then this run will probably be over your head.
Rating: II TDCR: ???? Location: Hot Springs County. Take exit 91 (Social Hill) off I-30 and head east on Hwy 84 about 3 miles then turn left on county road 13 (830 in the Delorme Atlas) just before the store on the left. After the road turns to dirt it's about 1/4 mile turn left 50 yds. to the takeout; to get to the put-in go back to CR 13 and turn left when the main road turns right stay straight until the road makes a sharp left and you're there. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: N/A Length: 1.5 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: There should be at least 6 inches of water over the low water bridge at the put-in for the creek to be runnable. You will cross over the main fork of Blakely Creek between the exit and the turn on the county road if it's not high and muddy the water's probably too low. Hazards: Downed trees Description: The first 3/8 of a mile has numerous 1-3 feet drops separated by short pools with fast current and some waves. One rapid about 1/4 of a mile from the put-in is a double drop and the clear path on the first drop doesn't line up with the second drop path quick maneuvering is required. After you go through Car Cruncher (there's a crunched car on the right bank) beware of downed trees. Then after you go through a channel in the willows barely wide enough for a kayak the rapids lose intensity and the pools get longer until right before the takeout where there's a 2 foot drop followed by 50 yds. of waves. The creek is never very far from the road and it could be floated into the Main Fork of Blakely Creek and use Hwy 84 as a takeout. Don't expect a large volume of water on this swift narrow stream unless you float into the main fork. Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org for info on this creek.
Rating: IV+ * TDCR: ???? Location: Take Hwy. 70 west from Hot Springs, then take Hwy. 4 north just before you get to Dierks. Go about 7 miles until you reach the Blue Ridge Campgound access. Go past this point and take the first dirt road on the left. Go about one mile until you see a tin barn on the right. Directy accross from this barn is a small road that leads to a camping spot. Camp Creek Falls is only 30 feet from the campping area. Other put-ins and take-outs may be possible. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: N/A fpm Length: N/A mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Visual gauge at the Falls. If the Little Missouri R. gauge at Langley is very high, that may be a good indication as well. Hazards: Vertical pins at the falls if you dont boof. Description: This description only covers Camp Creek Falls, a 12 to 13 foot plunge on the creek. There may be other rapids worth running, but, so far, scouting the creek near the Falls hasn't turned up much. The Falls has two possible lines, both of which have "S" turns at the top. Both also land on a foam pile with a grabby hole at the bottom. The Falls were first run on Nov. 6, 2000 on river right by Jason Mellor, John McCoy, and Heath Day. Jason also ran the river left line that day, which is a bit more difficult. The Falls is about 20 minutes from the Cossatot and Little Missouri, and is worth checking out if you're in the area after a big rain!
Rating: II-IV TDCR: 5544 Location: Polk and Howard Co.; S1: Put in at the Hwy. 246 bridge east of Hwy 71. Take out is reached by taking Weyerhauser Rd. 52200 south from Hwy. 246 just east of the put-in. Then take 52000 west to reach the river. S2: Take out at Ed Banks bridge on Weyerhauser Rd 52600 which runs north from Hwy. 278 (used to be Hwy. 4) and connects with 52200 coming south from Hwy. 246. S3: Take out at the low water bridge downstream from the Hwy. 278 bridge. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Eagle Mountain, Baker Springs Gradient: 15 to 25 fpm (the Falls area is a major exception) Length: S1: 3 mi S2: 1.5 mi S3: 4.5 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: The minimum level on the USGS gauge at Vandervoort is around 3.2 feet. The Falls can be run down to 3.0 or so, but the rest of the river starts getting really bony below 3.5. The river is much pushier and the Falls starts to go into the solid class IV+ range somewhere above 5.0 feet. The river has been run by crazed adrenaline junkies up to over 10 feet, but the Falls is very scary for even the best of boaters at anything over 7 feet! LINK TO USGS GAUGE Hazards: Big, continuous drops in the Falls area, and very heavy water in S2 and S3 when levels are high. Description: The Cossatot is probably the premier whitewater run in Arkansas. S1 consists of mostly class II rapids and is suitable for boaters with a little experience on whitewater. However, if you don't have much experience, don't venture below S1! The action picks up considerably in S2 with rapids like ZigZag and The Esses. ZigZag is an easy class III drop, and enders are possible in the hole below if the water is high. The Esses is a long, complex class III rapid, and the penalty for a mistake in this rapid could be a long and bruising swim! To avoid the big stuff, you can start center-left and work your way to the right toward several eddies along the right bank. There are a couple of solid holes in the middle of the run to pick your way past. A few more good rapids are encountered before you come to the Sandbar bridge where the final section of the river begins. Portage the bridge on the left - don't get near the middle of the bridge as it is extremely hazardous. Only a few hundred yards below the Sandbar bridge, the Cossatot Falls section begins. This is a series of back-to-back class III-IV rapids that drops around 40 feet in 1/8 of a mile. The first of these is a big class II+ drop followed by a pool at most levels. The next drop, Eye Opener, presents the paddler with a horizon line. At lower levels, the hole below this three foot ledge is not too bad, but at levels of over 5.0 feet, it can be a keeper! Scout if there is any doubt. Below this the river is pushed to the left into B.M.F. a tricky class III drop. This one is generally run angling to the left and dodging the hidden rock in the middle. Be sure to catch an eddy below B.M.F. because the Washing Machine is just below. The Machine is a class IV drop at almost any level. At levels below 4.5 feet, it must be approached from the right side. Running almost perpendicular to the streambed, enter the drop, turn right and hit the middle of the slot to finish. It's easy to make the turn too tight and end up on the right where the Cannonball Rock lurks at low water levels and where the Washing Machine Hole will take you to the cleaners at medium flows. At high water, you can approach from the center or even the left and run straight over the top of the drop. If you have trouble in the Machine, your troubles will be compounded by Whiplash, a long class III+ drop right below the Machine. At high water levels, it's a great idea to set some rope support on the left bank at strategic locations between B.M.F. and Whiplash, since an unassisted swimmer will get flushed through all of these - a bruising ride. Needless to say, having a reliable roll is also an excellent idea. The Falls ends with Shoulderbone, a class II drop with a pretty good play hole at lower levels. At certain flows even bigger boats can get enders in the hole here. Several good rapids are encountered below the Falls, but if you had a clean run in the Falls only two will give you any trouble. The first is Deer Camp Rapids, an easy looking class III that can pin unwary boaters. The other is Devil's Hollow Falls. This ugly sheer fall has a nasty landing on jagged rocks that have taken skin off of more than a few boaters. Pins and entrapments are a real danger in this rapid, and some close calls have happened here. Don't run the ledge unless you know exactly what you're doing. You can walk or sneak around Devil's Hollow Falls on the far left. At lower levels, it's a long, relatively flat, paddle to the takeout from Devil's Hollow. If the river is below 3.5 feet, many boater will run Cossatot Falls and then carry back up the bank rather than continuing down to the Hwy. 278 bridge. It's about an equal effort either way though - the trek back up the Falls is not for the meek! The Cossatot is a great whitewater river, but be sure you're up to the challenge before you try to boat down the Falls. A lot of folks, including this author, have been beaten up by this infamous stretch of river. Only boaters with solid self rescue skills and experience on pushy class IV water should attempt the Falls.
Rating: III-IV (V) TDCR: 7771 Location: Go about 2 miles north of Albert Pike on CR4 until you come to CR1. Take CR1 about anther 2 miles until the creek goes under the road. This is the takeout. There are campsites there that you can use to park. Continue up CR1 until you get to the Little Missouri Falls turn off - this is the putin for the lower gorge. To get to the put in for the upper gorge keep following CR1 until you come to a low water bridge that is not crossable, park here and ferry across the creek. Carry your boat .5 to .75 miles up the road to the next low water bridge. Put in at that point for the upper gorge. The creek runs right by the road the entire time so scouting on the way up is possible. At the time of this writing in Spring of 2001, the section of the creek between the Backbreaker Falls and the lower gorge is completely full of downed trees from a massive ice storm. You will probably just want to skip this whole section and shuttle back down from the big falls to the put-in for the lower section. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: 115 fpm (275 fpm max) Length: 3 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Little Missouri at Langley should be at least 7.5 for the lower section and 9.5 for the upper gorge. The only way to be sure is visual inspection of the creek. Hazards: Large falls, undercuts, strainers, continuous rapids, etc. Description: The first run of Crooked Cr. was by Chris Anderson in January 1995, when all but a couple of drops were run. Chris returned in January of 1997 and ran all of the drops at that time. The upper gorge consists of 5 or 6 waterfalls ranging 5 to 10 feet in height. These falls all occur in less than 100 yards. After this the creek makes a left turn followed by several slide/ledge drops before it slows down a little before the low water bridge. Thanks to the ice storm the upper gorge is not runnable at the time of this writing. Just below the low water bridge is Back Breaker Falls, a class IV+ to V drop. Trees tend to accumulate near or in the drop, so watch out for them. The only good line on this drop is the far right. If you get into the middle of the falls, you will hit a launching pad that can send you flying onto an extremely shallow shelf 18 to 20 feet below! If you stay on the right side line, you can run down on a seam just big enough to put a boat down. It's a great ride if you make the line - a real banger if you don't. As of June 2001, you'll need to portage (shuttle) from the pool below the falls to the start of the lower section near Little Missouri Falls. Eventually the dozens of downed trees in this section will not be a problem, but it will take several years for that to happen. The lower section starts of with some class II+ rapids, and then a definite horizon line appears. This is the start of Double Ledges - a solid class III rapid. Start on the far left and run the slot working your way right into a seam about half way down. The next bridge you go under marks the start of the lower gorge. All of the water pushes to the right, but head for the eddy on the left to scout the drops. There are several different lines through this tight, class IV section of whitewater, but only one way out at the bottom. Pick the line that suits you best, but be on target when you reach the final drops. At the bottom of the gorge there is a 6 to 8 foot waterfall with a boofing pad just right of center. Make sure you hit the boof because the pool is shallow! Several bows have been smashed here due to wayward lines. A few more class II rapids brings you to another bridge - the entrance to the last rapid. This solid class III drop provides several broaching and pinning possibilities. Take out at the bottom of this rapid and head to the Little Missuori for some big water play boating! This little creek is certainly one of the most beautiful and exciting runs in the state. Scout it carefully from the road and make sure you are up to the challenge before tackling the drops. Thanks to Heath Day and Lance Jones for information on this great run.
Rating: II-III * TDCR: ???? Location: Put-in: Highwy 283 bridge. Plenty of parking just before bridge on the right coming from Arkadelphia. Take-out: Highway 67 bridge, either side. There's a nice place to park at the bridge. There are cows and a nice fence on the right and a little incline on the left. Take your pick. It seems to be friendly teritory, but you never know these days. Topo Quad(s): Caddo Valley Gradient: 20 fpm (65 fpm max) Length: 6 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: Guage on Hwy 283 bridge. Any thing above 3 feet is runnable. Up to 6 or 7 becomes a much tougher run. Above that the run is severely flooded. Hazards:† Trees and strainers. An ugly triple set of culverts that proceed through a low water bridge are usually clogged with debris Also at the take out watch for slick cow patties. :-) Description: The run starts out with about 3.4 miles of moving flat water. The good stuff starts at A**-hole Culverts, which should be portaged. There are a number of good surf waves just downstream of the culverts but the meat of the run begins as you notice the walls of the ridge rising. Rock House Rapid is a nice III rapid, sometimes presenting difficulty when trees or debree collect in the boulders. The rapid can also be run right from the very top where the rocks are split by an island. A few hundred yards downstream is a nice continuous field of waves and holes called "Fitz-Cha Rapids". You might want to stay river right the first time you run this one, because half way down there's a BIG hole left of center. (Note: The hole very deceptive from up top and based on personal experience, it will hold you untill the water level drops. You will then be nearing I-30, and Meatface Rapids, which is the best section of class III rapids, depending on the level. This section is about several hundred yards of continuous drops, holes, and waves. If you can find a path back up to the top, I recomend running this section twice. Just below the interstate is the last good rapid which can be run straight on. This one ends with a nice surf wave, once again depending on the level. Be warned that this is a narrow, fast paced creek run full of numerous strainers and other hazards. Because it is so tight, there is a lot of difference between 3 ft on the gauge and 6 ft. Anyone who can't hit an eddy on a dime has no business being on the creek when the water's good, despite what you might hear from paddlers who have run it at low levels. Thanks to Rob Fisher and Lance Jones for information on this run.
Rating: III+ * TDCR: ???? Location: Logan Co.; Take Hwy 23 south of I-40 at Mulberry the take Hwy 309 to Paris. From there, all I can remember is that it's below the north face of Mt. Magazine on a road labeled 1631C on the topo quads. Find the Cove Cr. confluence and put in on the road 2 mi. above that. Take out on another dirt road 1 mile below Cove Cr. on Short Mtn. Cr. Shuttle is on the river left side of the creek. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Blue Mountain, Paris Gradient: 100 fpm. Length: 3 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Only runnable after extremely heavy rainfall. You may be able to estimate when Gutter Rock is up by checking the flows on Dutch Cr. and Pettit Jean at Booneville. When Dutch Cr. is running 1000 cfs (7.0 ft) or more and Pettit Jean is running several thousand cfs (12+ ft), Gutter Rock and Shoal Cr. are probably runnable (that day at least!). Also, check the rainfall gauge at Blue Mtn. Dam. Over 1.5 inches of recent rain is a good indicator. You can find these gauges on the ACC Bulletin Board. Hazards: heavy strainers, continuous rapids Description: This creek was first run by Tom Lewis, Cowper Chadbourn, C. Chevalier, Jim McDaniel, Chris Anderson, Nathan Kline and Paul Caldwell in Dec. 1993. It is very tight and fast paced, and contains numerous class III+ rapids. The gradient is spread out very evenly over the 3 mile run. Some of the tougher drops are encountered in a small gorge just above the confluence with Cove Cr. After this confluence you are on Short Mtn. Cr. which may be boated past the above mentioned take out. This creek has been described as comparable to Shoal Cr. I've just seen it dry, so thanks to Tom Lewis and Cowper Chadbourn for the info. on this one. Gutter Rock should only be attempted by advanced boaters, due to the heavy whitewater and the remoteness of the run.
Rating: II-III TDCR: 4442 Location: To reach the take-out, take Hwy 23 south from Booneville aprrox 1.5 miles and turn left on Jack Cr. Rd. going toward Grayson and Jack Cr. Recreation Area. The road will eventually turn to gravel. At the next four way intersection, turn left (East) onto a paved road. Follow this road downhill to Jack Cr. Rec. Area and the bridge over Sugar Cr. Jack Cr. Campgorund is the take-out. To reach the put-in, go over the bridge over Sugar Cr. and follow this road to the next bridge which crosses Jack Cr. You can either put in at this bridge or take one of the small dirt roads to the left (West) which will take you up to Ramsey or Pigeon Cr. and add a few miles of class II+ water to the run if the water is high. The creek is only one hour from Fort Smith and Russellville, so it's a great afternoon run for paddlers in these areas. Topo Quad(s): Sugar Grove, Freedom Mountain Gradient: 65 fpm Length: 3 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: One possible way to gauge Jack Cr. is to look at the USGS Petit Jean R. gauge at Booneville. If this gauge is reading over 10 feet there should be enough water for a good run, unless rain was spotty. Also look at Dutch Creek at Waltreak. A reading of 6.0 or better can be a good indication of water on Jack and Sugar Cr. Typically Jack Cr. takes a bit more rain than Sugar Cr., and about 1.5"+ in the area is a good indication that it will be comming up. When you get to Sugar Cr., water comming over the low water bridge at Knoppers Ford usually means you'll have enough for a run on Jack Cr. Hazards: Willow strainers, downed trees, and hydraulics at high levels Description: Jack Cr. is a great little creek run in the Ouachita Mountains. The scenery along the creek is superb! The creek races between intricately layered and folded bluffs as it appraches its confluence with Sugar Cr., creating fast-paced class II and III rapids and taking the paddler through some of the most interesting scenery in the state. Surfing oppourtunities abound, with several nice waves and holes to catch on the way down. Watch out for willow strainers in a few places that can pin paddlers who misjudge the fast currents flowing through them. However, the trees aren't usually as bad as those on Sugar Cr., so if the creeks are high, Jack is a much better choice. At high levels, also watch out for a couple of chutes into really big hydraulics! If you want to extend your run, you can follow the small roads upstream from the put-in bridge that lead to Ramsey Cr. or Pigeon Cr. Pigeon Cr. is extremely small, and Jack Cr. must be very high before Pigeon Cr. will be running. The rapids in these two creeks are not really any more challenging than Jack Cr., but the stream beds are narrow (especially Pigeon Cr.!) and the gradient is steeper. If Jack Cr. is too bony, try Sugar Cr. upstream of the Jack Cr. confluence, a good class II+ to III run when Jack Cr. is too low to boat.
Rating: III-IV * TDCR: 5472 Location: Jimmy Cr. is located in Comanche Co., OK in the Wichita Mts. Take Hwy. 58 until there is a sign that says "Meers 4 miles". At the sign take a left. Set your car to take out at Lake Lawtonka. Firther up the road, you will pass over the creek just before Meers Cafe. At the next stop sign take a right. About fifty yards up the road is the put-in. Jimmy Cr. confluences with Medicine Cr. after about 1.25 mi, then it is about two miles to the take out at Lake Lawtonka. Topo Quad(s): Pg. 50 of OK Gazeteer Qd. E-3 Gradient: 100 fpm Length: 3 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Optimal is about 4" of water over the put-in bridge, but the creek can be run with even less water. Quite a bit of rain is needed to bring this creek up. Hazards: There are a few hazards to keep an eye out for. Strainers are thick on this creek, so watch for them. The bridge before Meers had two of three channels blocked with debris on the first run. Narrow channels and technical moves are the mainstay of this run, and vertical pins are a possibility at Chocolate Thunder. Description: Jimmy Cr. was first run on Oct. 23, 2000 by Dave Borrel and Terry DeMoe. The run is best described as a very fun and continuous creek run with class III-IV rapids. The first rapid comes about thirty yards into the run. Sugar Mama (III) drops three feet with a glassy wave below it. The next rapid is Snicker Doodle (II+) featuring three and four foot waves, cutting to the right. Then comes the bridge, so eddy out on river left and make sure the channel is clear before running or consider a portage. Immediatly after the bridge is Porcupine (III+). This rapid runs through trees, and there are several precise cuts you must make in to complete the drop. Choclate Thunder (III+) is a five ft. drop with a narrow slot to hit. In the center of the creek, the first descent paddlers both hit a rock at the bottom of the drop. A good boof may be needed to keep your bow up as you go over the top. Little Thunder (III) is a three foot drop followed by a wave train. After this the river cuts to the right again. Eddy out left to scout the next rapid, Twisted Cedar (IV). This is a double drop with a right entrance. Stay right and be ready for a left draw as you hit the second drop. The last rapid is Twisted Sister (III+) a four ft. drop on the right. There are several vines hanging into the water here and the current pushes into them, so be careful. About fifty yards later Jimmy Cr. runs into Medicine Cr. (II-III). There is much more flat water on Medicine, but towards the end there are three good class III rapids (Apache, Comanche, and Geronimo). Although Jimmy is only a mile and a quarter run, it is packed with great rapids. It is well worth checking out, but make sure you're experienced with tight class III+ rapids before you make the trip.
Rating: II-III TDCR: 4445 Location: Polk, Montgomery, and Pike Co.; Put in is at Albert Pike Campground reached by taking Hwy. 369 north from Hwy. 84 at Langley. The take out is at the Hwy. 84 bridge west of Langley. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Big Fork, Polk Cr. Mountain, Athens Gradient: 35 fpm (?) Length: 8.5 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: A minimum of 27 inches of airspace is needed at the Albert Pike low-water bridge. When water is lapping against the bottom of this bridge, the run will be severely flooded and solid class III-IV. Hazards: Willow strainers, hydraulics at high levels Description: This pristine stream is one of the prettiest in the Ouachitas. The run contains some class III rapids at any level, and some of the biggies may be pushing class IV when the water is high. The Winding Stairs (III) is a series of four good drops in quick succession, and Edgar's Ledge (III) can flex it's muscles at medium to high water. Take time to drive a few miles north of Albert Pike to the Little Missouri Falls area. These drops are almost always too shallow to run, but the last one may be runnable if the water is extremely high. All boaters should be competent on class III water if the level is low, and only solid class IV boaters should tackle the run at higher flows. If you don't fall into either one of these categories, you can put in at the Hwy. 84 bridge and float through some good class II water for 11 miles down to the bridge at U.S. 70.
Rating: II TDCR: ???? Location: You can float the river by launching just below Remmel Dam, take US Hwy 270 east from Malvern to Jones Mill. Turn left onto Remmel Dam road and follow to the river. Or you can drive to the I-30 Bridge crossing and paddle 1/4 mile upstream to the ledge. Recently the road on the north side has been opened and it may be possible to drive directly to the ledge. To park under the I-30 Bridge cross the river on I-30 going west and exit immediately, cross over and turn left at the old Tanner Street Bridge to cross private property to the I-30 Bridge access. Topo Quad(s): Malvern North Gradient: N/A (just one rapid) Length: N/A (5 mi. from dam to I-30) Season: ALL Gauge: USGS Ouachita River Gage at Jones Mill, river is typically up or down. Optimum surfing at the ledge is 3,600 cfs which is full flow generation from the dam. Hazards: No major hazards beyond the typical underwater rocks and swift water. There is excellent recovery if you should swim while playing. Description: There is a river wide ledge that creates a number of Class II play spots. This is a good location for beginners to learn to ferry and roll and for more advanced paddlers to play when nothing else is running. During the week you can call Entergy at 501-844-2148 and ask if Remmel Dam is generating. Note that it requires 3 hours for the water to fully develop at the ledge after generation starts. During the late summer the dam may only run for 3 hours. The dam typically operates during the peak energy load demand which is late afternoon in the summer so this makes an ideal after work opportunity for those in the Little Rock and Hot Springs areas. Thanks to Ted Smethers for information on this great summertime playspot.
Rating: II-III * TDCR: ???? Location: Howard Co.; Put in below Shady Lake on Hwy. 84 west of Athens. Take out at Hwy. 246 bridge north of Athens. Area Map Topo Quad(s): Umpire Gradient: 50 fpm Length: 3 mi Season: FLOOD Gauge: Water should be running over Shady Lake Dam near the put-in. Also, other runs nearby should be in flood. Hazards: strainers and very fast current Description: This is a fast, continuous class II+ run with some class III+ hazards created by downed trees. All boaters need to have very good boat control, since catching an eddy in the fast current could mean the difference between a good run and a very bad one. Otherwise, the run is fast and fun with continuous gradient. Boaters should be very comfortable on class II-III water and very familiar with the dangers of strainers before attempting this run.
Rating: II+ (play waves) TDCR: ???? Location: Below Dierks Lake at USCOE Campground. Follow the signs to Dierks Lake Dam from Hwy 70 just West of the town of Dierks. Play the 3/4 mile horseshoe bend around the campground. This area contains the best play spots. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: ?? fpm Length: 3/4 mi Season: DAM CONTROLLED - usually releases occur during drawdown in early fall Gauge: The USGS gauge on the Saline R. near Dierks. The new features seem to be playable from 6 ft up to maximum flow from the spillway (somewhere around 10 or 11 ft). This gauge is several miles downstream from the features and it seem to take 4-5 hours for the water to travel that far and for the gauge to show a release. Click here for the Corp gauge for the lake. Notice the min pool level. If below this, the river won't run. Click here for the gauge at the spillway/pipe. This updates every four hours or so. It is a faster indicator than the USGS guage, which is 5 miles down stream. Hazards: N/A Description: This is a really nice area that is perfect for park and play. There is a wooded campground with 8-10 sites with blacktop roads, level, gravel parking pads, a restroom with flush toilets and a pavilion. The loop is about 3/4 of a mile long and shuttle can be walked (about a 1/4 mile). There are a couple of natural class I-II rapids in the loop besides the 3 features that were built with the COE in July, 2004. These features are at the bottom of the loop, just down from the campground. The first one is a small, glassy wave (about 1.5ft tall) with a good eddy on the right. The second feature is an aggressive hole that is more surfable on river right, and more trashy on river left. Eddies on both sides, with the eddie on the right being a little more user friendly. Several people have swum out of this hole, but all with smiles on their faces and with little to no recirculation once the boater and the boat separate. The third feature is a large frothy wave/hole (about 4 ft tall) with nice eddies on both sides. This hole has a clean washout and is not as nasty as it first appears. The size intimidates newer paddlers but can be fun for everyone. Any trick you want to throw can be attempted here. Just below at the takeout by the swimming area is the last rapid. A class II with a couple of small surfing spots. Eddy service is not as good for these. Currently there is only one scheduled release that happens the first or second weekend in October. The rest of the time it will only run several days after a good rain. This is a flood control lake and they actually hold water back to help out down stream and release several days later when things downstream drop down.
Rating: III * TDCR: ???? Location: Logan Co.; Take Hwy 109 south from Clarksville to New Blaine then take NFR 1603 south and then NFR 1600 south (right) and then NFR 1601 west (right again) to the bridge over Shoal Cr. Put in at this bridge. Take out at low water bridge on NFR 1614 south of Midway (west of New Blaine on Hwy 22). Area Map Topo Quad(s): Magazine Mountain NE, Scranton Gradient: 75 fpm Length: 7 mi. Season: FLOOD Gauge: Water should be flowing over the low water bridge at the take out. Only boatable after heavy rains. Hazards: strainers and tight technical rapids Description: Shoal Cr. is a fast, tight run with many good class III and even IV rapids. Watch out for willows near the end of the run. You should be a confident class III boater to attempt Shoal Cr.
Rating: II+ TDCR: 2234 Location: The uppermost put-in is the USFS campground at Hollis on Hwy. 7. The bottom take-out is near Aplin at the Deberrie low water bridge. To get to the take-out from the west, drive towards Aplin on Hwy. 60. Just before Aplin, Hwy. 155 runs south and crosses the Fouche. There is a dirt road that veers off to the right immediately after the bridge and follows the Fourche. Follow this road and keep bearing right and you will get to the take out bridge. Itís near the Deberrie cemetary, and it's a fairly big concrete low-water bridge with several culverts in the middle. If the middle culverts are 1/2 to 2/3 full, youíll have good water. If the river is over the bridge, itís probably too high for safe paddling. To get to the put-in at Hollis, get back on Hwy. 60 and head east to Fourche Junction. Take Hwy. 7 south toward Hot Springs and put-in at the USFS campground just south of the bridge at Hollis. Topo Quad(s): Nimrod Gradient: ??? Length: 11 mi. Season: RAIN Gauge: The USGS Hollis gauge should be at 3.5 for a runnable level. 4-5 ft is optimal, and 6 ft and up may be dangerous due to log jams and meanders. Put in at Cedar Creek lake dam when the creek is higher to avoid the log jams. Hazards: Log jams and pushy water when high. Also the low water bridge at the take out has culverts that must be avoided. Description: The first part of the river is pretty tame. The S. Fourche tends to be pretty brown from runnoff due to farms above Hollis, but the scenery is good. As the river just bumps along, you can look around and see Forked Mountain in the distance. After about a third of the way through the trip, the river braids and breaks into several branches through a tangle of trees and flotsam. This spot is about a half mile past a cabin on river left. The first river left branch appears to be the best as thereís only one nasty, gown-up area you have to pick a line through. Keep to the left as you work through the first part and then right at the bottom. You want to be pretty careful through this mess to avoid pinning on a tree. Eventually, the river runs back into one channel, runs into a large hillside as it turns left and Cedar Cr. comes in from river right. Cedar Cr. makes a good alternate put-in at high water levels (put-in at Cedar Cr. Lake below the dam by taking FR 86 off of Hwy. 7 just south of Hollis, then go north on FR 29150 through a clear cut until you get to an intersection, and follow the small road that runs northeast and uphill to the dam). About 200 yards downstream from Cedar Cr. is the first significant rapid (class II+), called "Blockhead" because it features a large blocky boulder on river right that much of the water funnels into. Above the rock and in the middle of the flow is another smaller rock that must be missed. When water is flowing over the rock, it makes for a nice "boof" move. Below this rapid, you can play in the jet and eddylines caused by Blockhead Rock. A half mile below Blockhead, another rapid appears as you approach a rocky hogback ridge that cuts into the river from the left. This rapid has no real obstacles but is fun, fast water. This is a spot to appreciate how unique the scenery on the S. Fourche is. It looks like no other river in Arkansas, as it cuts through the rocky and sparesely vegetated east/west Ouachita ridges. If you paddle the river in winter, the barren slopes are reminicient of the desert runs in the West. The midpoint of the trip comes at one of the few roads that crosses the river, FR 210. There's no bridge, but you can see an old concrete tower on river left: the USGS Hollis gaging station. There's a big willow jungle right below the road, with the best line at middle-right. A few hundred yards below the jungle is a large, bald ridge on river right that is very scenic. The action picks up again as Cove Cr. approaches. Thereís a nice rapid, known as "Bounce Rapid" just above Cove Cr. with several eddies and then a small drop at the end. Soon after the entry of Cove creek the river runs into another ridge and sharply turns to the east. After this point, the S. Fourche slows and become a pastoral stream. There are a few more rapids but not any that really demand attention. Soon, the river cuts back to the north between a ridge and empties into the Fourche Valley. Thereís a great surfing rapid about 3/4 mile before the take out. Itís created by a ledge thatís pretty sharp on river left but smoothes out on river right. It creates a nice side surfing hole on left thatís easy to get into and a lot of fun to play. The S. Fourche is often overlooked by paddlers, but it is one of the more scenic and interesting streams in the state. It has a true wilderness feel and the unusual scenery makes up for a somewhat murky water quality. If youíre looking for continuous whitewater, this river isnít for you, but it's a fine run for those wanting to explore a new class II+ river. Thanks to T. Yamashita for information on this great run!
Rating: III TDCR: 5543 Location: To reach the take-out, take Hwy 23 south from Booneville aprrox 1.5 miles and turn left on Jack Cr. Rd. going toward Grayson and Jack Cr. Campground. Follow the signs for Jack Creek Recreation Area. The road will eventually turn to gravel and then you'll come to a four-way intersection. Turn left (East) onto a paved road. Follow this road downhill to Jack Cr. Rec. Area and the bridge over Sugar Cr. The recreation area is the takeout. To reach the put-in, go back the way you came, uphill, to the four-way intersection and hang a left (South). After you go back downhill to the creek, you'll come to the low water bridge at Knoppers Ford Campground. If water is over this bridge, CHECK IT CAREFULLY before attempting to cross it! If you can't cross here, the creek is flooded - turn around and run Jack Cr. instead! Otherwise cross this low water bridge and keep driving to the next low water bridge. Stop here and make sure you mark this dangerous bridge so that you can eddy out well above it. A 10 minute hike up the bank to mark an eddy can save your life! Then cross the bridge and drive until you reach the third low water bridge. This is the ususal put in point. The creek can be boated above this point in high water, but there's plenty of action for most folks below this bridge! Topo Quad(s): Sugar Grove, Freedom Mountain Gradient: 45 fpm (first 2 miles @ 65 fpm) Length: 6 mi Season: RAIN Gauge: The USGS gauge for the Petit Jean R. at Booneville should generally be reading over 9 feet for a good run. Dutch Creek at Waltreak may be an even better indicator: a reading of 5.0 or better usually means there is water in Sugar Cr. If both of these gauges are looking good, it's a done deal! There is a hand painted gauge on one of the concrete bridge supports on the downstream side of the Sugar Cr. bridge at the take-out near Jack Cr. Rec. Area. 1 foot on this gauge is a good minimum for Sugar Cr. 1.5 is starting to cook and there will be some fast class III action. 2.0 is a solid class III level and quite pushy (also the upstream bridges have some water over them at this level). If you can't see any marks at all, the creek will be in flood - rapids will be long, constant class III to IV with little hope of dodging the trees or finding eddies. Insane hairboaters may have fun at this level, but most folks will want to check out Jack Cr. which will also be pumped way up to class III+ levels. Hazards: An incredible amount of trees! Also the most dangerous low water bridge in Arkansas (2.5 miles from the put-in) and several cables hanging into the creek about 1/4 mile above Knoppers Ford! Did I mention the trees? Also some nasty hydraulics at high water levels. And trees. Description: Maybe the best way to describe the character of the Sugar Cr. run is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At lower levels (below 1.4 on the take-out bridge) Sugar Cr. is a mostly straightforward class II play run with dozens of anoying trees and willow jungles. Boaters who see the creek at this level usually come away thinking, "what's the big deal - it's like a fast version of the Mulberry!" But at around 2.0 on the take-out bridge gauge the creek leaves an entirely different impression. At this level, rapids are often compared to drops on the Ocoee R. in Tennessee. Holes become things to be avoided rather than surfed. And the "annoying" trees become serious threats to life and limb. At high levels, really good boaters can find themselves blown into, over, and under the myriad trees before they can get stopped. And there are also the man-made hazards: low water bridges and old cables hanging in the river. Luckily, the creek has an automatic system for warning boaters when they're about to get in over their heads: if you can't cross the low water bridges to make it to the put-in, you don't need to be paddling the creek! The description here is one of the creek at optimal levels: about 1.4 to 1.8 on the take-out bridge. After a short pool, the first rapid is a good test for the run. It's a twisting class III-type drop with an undercut wall on the right at the bottom. If you have trouble here, it's probably a good idea to just go load your boat on the car and go hiking! This is followed by some nice surfing ledges and then another class III drop which pushes hard into a big rock on the left. More surfing between short pools can be had for while before the current picks up and pushes into a long, class III+ drop. This one is always memorable - for the safest ride stay generally left, avoid the holes and pours and then paddle really hard into the final hydraulic! If you've made it this far and are having fun, you should be in good shape. If not, the road stays very near the creek for almost the enitre run, so walking out is always an option. Eventually you'll pass a small cabin on the left in a big pool. At the end of the pool, take the right chute, but watch out for trees - it's very narrow. After this, you'll have a few holes and a lot of short, tree-choked spots to navigate. After a few of these, you'll come to where you've hopefully marked the eddy upstream of the low water bridge. In 2003 the eddy on river right was marked with yellow paint on a tree, but make sure this marking is visible before running down to the bridge! If you don't get stopped in this eddy you're likely to run past some bushes and find yourself heading for the bridge with little hope of stopping. If you go too far, try to fight through the brush on the river left side just above the bridge and hit the small eddy there. People have pinned under this bridge and very nearly drowned - take it VERY seriously! After you portage the bridge, you'll be in the middle section of the creek. Lots of fast class II+ action with lots of trees. When you are comming down a shallow, open drop into a pool with a nice big sitting rock in front of you, watch out for a cable that hangs into the river! After this pool you'll go through some more rapids with loads of trees (as always) and there are two more cables. Portage these if they're in the creek and if you can get stopped in time. Several folks have taken a cable in the chest when they haven't stopped - be very careful! Pretty soon you'll see Knoppers Ford Campground on your right - get out above the bridge on the right and portage it. Now you're on the bottom section of the run - flatter water in general with one very notable exception. When you find yourself having to dodge trees and run over ledgy shoals at the same time (weird) get ready! When you see a horizon line comming, eddy out on the right and you can scout the big drop from your boat. The hole usually isn't too bad (except at flood levels) but the drop is powerful and rocky. Good luck! If the water's extremely high, be careful not to paddle into the bridge at Jack Cr. Rec. Area, about 1/2 mile downstream from the big ledge. Otherwise you can paddle under it and take out at the recreation area. If you paddle Sugar Cr. at low levels, you're going to think the creek is overrated. If you hit it with enough water, you're likely to think this description is quite conservative! I've glossed over many bad willow jungles, long rapids, and potentially nasty holes. Just make sure you would feel confident running the Esses on the Cossatot with a bunch of trees in it, and you'll probably have fun on Sugar Cr. at optimum to high water. Or wait for the creek to drop, and you'll find a creek where an experienced class II boater will have a good time. Because of the dozens of trees and man-made hazards, it's always best to paddle Sugar with someone who knows the creek well.
Rating: III+ * TDCR: 6676 Location: Put in via old logging road (now a horse trail) on east side near top of Mt. Magazine. Turn right off of the state highway onto a logging road in the middle of the first big "U" turn coming down the north side from top of mountain. Turn right at the next intersection and head for the creek. On a map, the put-in is about 1/4 mile directly (as the crow flies) east of the new state park visitor center. Take out is at regular Shoal Creek put in. Topo Quad(s): N/A Gradient: ? fpm Length: N/A Season: FLOOD Gauge: Run only when its almost too high at the normal Shoal Cr. put-in. A whole lot of rain is needed! Hazards: Absolutely no eddies till near the bottom of the run... extremely fast, extremely narrow, hi-banked V shaped sides of river (nearly a slot in some areas) and very technical. You'll find yourself purposefully sliding over rocks to slow yourself down enough to have good control. Description: Date of first descent was 1979, in open boats, 16 ft blue hole OCA's, by Fred Baker (Fort Smith), John Williams (Booneville), Jim Gardner (Van Buren). The whole stretch was nicknamed "The Shoal Sluice" by the first descent group. Only runnable once or twice a year at maximum, when other rivers and creeks are in flood. Thanks go to Fred Baker for information on Upper Upper Shoal Cr.