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Christmas Falls
December 26, 2003

This morning I found a new waterfall - and it's 47 feet tall! It is located near Fly Gap, about a half mile south of the Ozark Highlands Trail parking area, in the very upper reaches of the Right Prong of Mountain Creek.
The doctor finally let me take off the sling from my shoulder dislocation, and I was out to enjoy at least one morning of deer hunting. After sitting still all morning in one spot, I wanted to do a little exploring of a nearby wash I had found a few years back.
I walked along an old road trace for about half a mile until I came to the wash. There was water running even though it hadn't rained in over a week. The water was making a lot of noise in an area about a hundred yards downhill, so I went down to check it out. It turned out to be just a series of small narrow cascades. I continued downhill a short way and spotted what was obviously the top of a BIG waterfall down in the distance. The stream was pooling on top of a big flat rock at the edge of a vast open area, and there was nothing but open air downstream from the rock.  I could tell by looking at the slopes on either side of the valley that the dropoff  wasn't shallow.
It was hard to contain my excitement and take my time scrambling down to see how far the dropoff was. I wouldn't know until I could look over the edge. I'll let the picture below show what I found.
I returned two days later to measure the falls. I tied a fishing sinker on to a spool of kite string, lowered it over the falls until it hit bottom, then tied a knot in the string at the top. I measured the distance later back home.
There's more to this area than just the big falls. Upstream and to the West from the big falls is a very nice 15 to 20 foot waterfall cascading over a sheer vertical bluff face. It needs more water to make a decent photo - I can't wait to return this spring. There's also a nice little 10-foot waterfall next to the road trace coming in, and a 15-footer just downstream East of the big fall.
I've posted a small topo map of the area. It is from the upper right corner of the Cass Quad. GPS coordinates of the big fall are: N 35 44.324, W 093 46.467 (WGS 84). I also drew a rough map showing the easiest route to the falls (red), which mostly follows an old road trace. The dotted red line is all bushwhacking. The green lines are road traces, blue are watercourses. A simpler set of directions is this:  Find the hairpin curve on East Fly Gap road pictured in both my maps. It is roughly 2 miles East of Hwy 23 North of Cass. There is a deer camp site here, and a primitive forest service road heads off to the South from here. The waterfall is only one fourth mile downhill to the Southeast.
Until I hear differently I'm gonna call this Christmas Falls. I decided on that name for three reasons - I found it at Christmas time, it apparently is a good waterfall for others to go see around Christmas time, and it was indeed a Christmas present to me!
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