Information on Sulphur Creek (Richland)
Rating: IV-V+ *
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.)
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!)
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