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Sweden Creek Falls Natural Area
July 17, 2004

Cliff and I headed out early on a Saturday morning to try to beat the heat to a place I heard was a relatively cool hollow in the Ozarks - Sweden Creek Falls Natural Area in Southeast Madison County. This area is protected by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. A cool front came through overnight bringing the temperatures down to the mid-70s - quite low for this time of year.
I had a feeling there was gonna be plenty of neat things along the hike, so I carried my camera instead of stowing it away in my backpack. I'm going to try to do that more often so I can document our adventures a little better. After going around a gate we walked down an old grass-covered road to an uninhabited home place. There were some nice patches of wildflowers along the way and Cliff was constantly chasing butterflies.
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Just downhill past the house we came to a small creek bed running down to a bluffline. This has got to be an incredible area when the water is running. We found a gap in the bluff to go down just to the left of where the creek went over. After checking out the mossy area at the base of the barely-dripping waterfall, we followed a faint trail at the base of the bluffline going back in the same basic direction as where we'd come in from above.
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Cliff found a collection of chert pieces on a flat rock and was convinced they were arrowheads in the making. I didn't disagree with him, though I think somebody put them there in recent times.
It was about 500 yards along the bluffs to the hollow with the big falls. On the way we passed a lot of great stuff - overhangs, huge boulders, and lots of mosses and ferns.
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I was amazed at the ferns in the area just below the falls. After seeing pictures of such lush greenery in books and on the web, it was nice to finally see the real thing.
We knew better than to expect the 80-foot waterfall to be running, but there was enough water coming down for us to take our shoes off and carefully navigate the loose rocks and receive a nice cold shower. It felt great! Despite the moderate temperatures I was pretty hot after hiking almost a mile with a pack flat against my back.
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