Three Springs Falls in Baxter County, Arkansas, is relatively easy to find and access, but is far enough off the normal waterfall circuit that the probability of a private view is high. Three springs normally feed the falls. When rain adds to the flow, the falls increase in size substantially. The drop to the hollow floor from here is 45 feet give or take a few inches.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas
During a Thanksgiving stay in Mountain View, Arkansas, in 2011, I was close to some falls that were on my hit list. While the others in my party were digesting a fine Thanksgiving repast, I repaired to Three Springs Falls in nearby Baxter County. Though not too far from the closest highway, the falls are ensconced in a primitive, craggy environment. Just what the doctor ordered. The water was low, but the view was spectacular since no leaves interrupted one’s line of sight. Take a look.
PS: Also take a look at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind for more pictures and commentary. Also take a gander at our Weekly Grist Gallery for more pictures from the trip.
Eye-Level with Tree Tops
Three Springs Falls drop into a hollow — I'm guessing it has a footprint of a couple of city blocks or more. What you are seeing here would not be completely visible a few months ago before the leaves dropped, one of the benefits of winter exploration. Here you are eye-level with tree tops.
Magnetic North to Nirvana
First Published on Sunday, November 27, 2011
Pine Buff, Arkansas
For some of us, waterfalls are magnetic north to Nirvana. Finding one is an all-too-brief transfer to tranquility and clarity. Under the cascading concerto spell, one is sequestered in serenity. However, like anything else worth a toot, for most wild waterfall experiences there is a non-monetary price of admission. Waterfalls by nature must be higher than the surrounding real estate. So most of the time, there is a climb involved. It could be on the way in, or it could be on the way out.
Secondly, if falls are easy to find and access, you may find yourself in a crowd. So, if you enjoy being alone with your falls, they should be off the well-beaten path. Which means you may have to, well, beat a path.
Thirdly, waterfalls are constructed by the Almighty in any one or more of thousands of permutations of his own native stone, lest they wash away if created with lesser matter — which means you will probably have to negotiate rocks somewhere around the size of a cedar chest to a UPS truck.
The falls of the day are "Three Springs Falls," off Cook Road, off Arkansas State Highway 341 (a.k.a. Push Mountain Road) in Baxter County. Legendary hiker, journalist, and photographer Tim Ernst nicely describes how to find these falls in his Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook, recently updated.
I overshot Tim's directions and wound up walking and back-tracking by foot and pickup further than I planned, but I finally discovered how to find the falls with my ears, rather than my eyes. The path to the general area appears to be a four-wheeler trail and is easy to follow. Once you hear the falls and leave the trail, you walk about fifty yards or so to reach the edge of the hollow. There it is necessary to traipse through wait-a-minute vines (with stickers) and over downed timber. There are still a lot of dropped limbs and trees from an ice storm several years ago.
Small Price, Great Reward
My first glimpse of the hollow came through a break in cedar tree foliage. The falls are not far from the approach trail, but I did not find a defined path to the hollow rim where the falls were visible. Tiptoeing through underbrush and over rocks is a small price to pay for what you see and experience.
Wild, Wolly and Alone
The falls first drop 15 feet or so, then plunge off a precipice some 45 feet or so to the hollow floor. Due to limited time-on-target, shooting from the top of the falls was my only option, but a little bit of a decent waterfall is better than no waterfall at all. The hollow floor is a couple of city blocks or in that neighborhood.
I was alone with the falls and a wild-and-wooly patch of mountainous Arkansas real estate for nearly two hours. Not a bad deal, particularly when you make it back home to tell your friends. The experience: out of sight. The price: some, sweat, scratches with slight bleeding, bruises, and unbelievably in November, a tick who found me and migrated to one of most tick's favorite body areas on my person. Well worth it.
Nikon D300, all hand held because like a dummy, I failed to load my tripod for the trip. ISO 200 all. Top picture, Nikon AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200 G ED. Second picture, same lens, 1/8@f9; third picture, firstname.lastname@example.org. Post processed in Photoshop CS5 Extended.