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Magnolia Falls
May 12, 2007
Although the hike to Magnolia Falls and Woods Boys Falls has long been near the top of my list of “places that must be seen”, I’ve kept it as an ace in the hole - to be played when I was short on time or low on stamina. It’s one of the easiest scenic spots to get to in the Ozarks, and produces a lot of bang for the buck.
A study of the weather radar screens Friday told me the waterfall action for the following morning was limited to southwest Newton County. There were several waterfalls in that area I wanted to visit, but most of them required long, difficult hikes; and I just wasn’t up for that. I got up extra-early Saturday morning to increase my chances of having the place to myself. Good thing too, because the weather forecast was all wrong and instead of partly cloudy skies they were all clear. I don’t recall how often I say this, but bright sunlight hitting a waterfall makes it almost impossible to photograph.
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Along the drive north of Clarksville I kept catching glimpses of a gorgeous red sun rising above fog blanketing the mountains below, and I told myself somewhere there was a photographer catching a great picture. I looked for a place to pull over but didn’t find any. As I set out on the 1-mile hike from the parking area west of Mossville, I was worried that any moment the sun would rise above the trees and ruin my chances of taking any pictures.
When I reached Magnolia Falls I quickly set up the camera and started taking shots from the north side. It wasn’t the best angle, but the ground and rocks were covered with mosses and lichens.
With some shots captured in the camera, I hopped across the shallow stream at the end of the emerald pool below the falls. The southern bank was a vertical bluff face with overhanging rocks at the top. Alumroot and Columbine flowers dotted the crevices. Water streamed  like rain from the overhang, making it difficult for me to find a spot to take more pictures of the waterfall.
By the time I found a scene of Magnolia Falls I liked, the sun had risen high enough to be directly in the shot, though partially blocked by the trees.  I decided to try to incorporate the sun into the shot, and thought to myself, "Now how's that saying go? When life gives you (something?), you make (something?).. but I couldn't remember what that something was. (It was 24 hours before the answer - lemons - finally popped into my head!) Anyway, the picture is at the top of this page.
The creek bed below Magnolia Falls is a wide, flat rock area with mosses covering many surfaces and small ferns sticking out all over the place.  The stream runs down a narrow chute beside several boulders.
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Within sight of Magnolia Falls, the creek bed comes to a sudden 30-foot drop at Woods Boys falls. It looked like every bit of a hundred-foot fall to me! The edge of the precipice was lined with chest-high Mountain Azalea bushes. The pink blooms were everywhere, with lots of butterflies flitting around.  I spent some time trying to get a shot of the azaleas, then as I was packing my camera away I noticed a group of around a dozen hikers coming down the hillside to Magnolia Falls.  One polite gentleman came over and introduced himself and told me they were with the Ozark Society.
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It was after 10 a.m. and any route farther downstream was apparently a tough one, plus the sun was shining brightly above and the wind had picked up, so I decided to call it day. I took my sweet time hiking back to the truck, often looking high in the air at the bright spring-green leaves against the bright blue sky. The larger trees were only now recovering from the late freeze of Easter weekend.
Back on the jeep road near the beginning of the trail, I saw several groups of lemon-yellow Sundrop flowers. I unpacked the camera and tripod to get some shots, and noticed a small spider hanging out on one of the blooms so I changed positions to get it in the picture.
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