Information on South Fourche La Fave R.
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
Length: 11 mi.
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!
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