Information on West Fork Of Horsehead Cr.


West Fork Of Horsehead Cr.

	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!

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