Kirkwood Falls
April 19, 2009
From out of nowhere, Grant and I had the best waterfall hunting day ever. We didn't leave the house until around noon. Coincidently we took the same route along Highway 10 south of Mount Magazine that I'd driven recently to Lacey Creek. Our route would take us through the Walnut Grove community, though for some reason we took the long way by driving east to Marvinville then driving south on Yell County Road 27. The fields and pastures around Walnut Grove were thick with the little yellow buttercup flowers, easily the most abundant t I had ever seen. For quite a long time now, I've wanted to get a picture of a horse surrounded by those flowers. This would be the day! A pretty mare with a mottled coat grazed in a field next to the road and I pulled over and got my photo.
We drove south on County Road 519 approx. 3 miles, then turned east onto County Road 518. A third of a mile farther, the road crossed Mill Creek. We turned north up a path to a swimming hole the locals call Kirkwood, named after a large timber company that ran a mill at the location back in the 1800's. While Grant started searching for a geocache hidden nearby, I got out the camera gear to photograph a pretty little waterfall pouring into the green pool of water. Grant found a salamander hiding under a rock and yelled at me to come take a look. I wound up helping Grant look for the geocache, but we never were successful.
We returned to the county road and parked beside a jeep road heading south upstream next to Mill Creek. Grant and I walked along the road about four tenths of a mile to a fantastic hole of blue-green water below a ledge with several small waterfalls and cascades. This is the same Blue Hole waterfall that Tim Ernst featured in his Arkansas Waterfalls coffee table picture book. Grant searched for another geocache hidden in the rock ledges beside the water hole, and this time he was successful.
After enjoying the scenery for a while we hiked a few hundred yards upstream to yet another waterfall and pool. This waterfall was much larger, with the stream separating into two halves before pouring straight over an 8-foot ledge. The pretty green pool below was huge... I'd guess it was 80 feet across and 40 feet long. A geocache was hidden nearby this waterfall too, and Grant made quick work of locating it with the GPS.
We had two more waterfall/geocache combos to seek that evening, so we didn't linger around Upper Kirkwood Falls.
We returned to the Tahoe and drove back west to County Road 519, then drove southwest approx. 4.6 miles and parked beside a ravine in the headwaters of Mitchell Branch. We walked downhill to the south, along the steep hillside above the small stream. The terrain directly beside the stream was almost vertical, so we stayed uphill a ways. It was only 300 yards to a beautiful 25-foot waterfall, pictured at the top of this page. GPS coordinates are 35.02342, -93.64114. The water ran fell over an overhang about 10 feet then cascaded over layers of shale for another 15 feet. The cascade had an nice S-curve to it.
While I set up the camera for photos, Grant tried to zero-in on the geocache, but the satellite reception was awful down in the little canyon. We were able to locate it though, once we climbed back out.
With daylight fading we drove back northeast on County Road 519 about a mile to another fork of Mitchell Branch. About 50 yards downhill we came to a spot where the stream abruptly dropped 8 feet to form a waterfall spilling into a big deep pool. GPS coordinates for it are 35.02433, -93.62856. Grant found his fourth geocache of the day without my help.
We were starving by that time, having gone through all the granola bars earlier in the day. Luckily there was a McDonald's in Booneville on the way home.