The Blue Hole
October 31, 2009
I often mention the old paper forest service map I bought over 20 years ago, and its list of "special interest areas" that I've vowed to visit. The map describes the Blue Hole, north of Appleton, as an area "at the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Wolf Den Hollow. A unique open-rock area, with waterfalls and cascades that spill from both the Hollow and Hurricane Creek."
Once I got into hiking and photography I put the Blue Hole high on my list of places to visit, but after studying every map I could get my hands on, I couldn't figure out an easy way to reach the area. Finally, a clever geocacher got directions from some hunters for an easy bushwhack. In April I contacted the geocacher, James Crabill, who gave me detailed directions of his route.
Last month I met a new friend online, fellow photographer Zack Andrews of Conway, and we discovered a shared interest in finding the Blue Hole. We agreed to find it together when the weather conditions were right. We've had so much rain this fall that Sunday night, as soon as I saw more rain forecast for the coming, I contacted Zack and we made plans for the weekend.
I met Zack at the Wal Mart in Russelville around 6:30. We headed up Highway 124 to Appleton then took White Oak Mountain Road and Lindsey Motorway to a jeep road north of the Blue Hole area. We walked about half a mile to a big deer camp area, then bushwhacked down the hill another half mile to Wolf Den Hollow. The woods were nice and open and free of ice storm damage.  We landed less than a hundred yards downstream of the falls in Wolf Den Hollow, which we could easily hear because of the big roar they were making.
The sky was clear and we knew the sun would soon be coming up to shine down on the waterfalls, so we rushed to take some pictures. I set up at the end of the deep hole downstream. I wasn't up for getting my pants all wet yet, so I only waded to a point where my boots were in the water.
Next I climbed up the north side and found a vantage point atop a ledge about 10 feet above the pool below the falls. There was a narrow ledge below me that would have afforded a much clearer view, except my feet wouldn't quite reach it. I could stretch down to where my feet just barely touched the ledge, but there wasn't anything nearby for me to hang on to, and I was afraid of slipping on the ledge and landing in the water way below, so I just settle for a picture from higher up.
I walked upstream above the falls and waded across, then found a spot on the south side beside the bottom of the falls, which cascaded about 10 feet  I hurriedly took a few pictures then we headed up to flatter terrain above and walked downstream.
Photo © by Zack Andrews
We found Hurricane Creek coming from the south and merging with the creek below Wolf Den Hollow. We followed it a short distance to a spectacular waterfall area. This larger waterfall had a unique structure. The creek bed widened to twice its width at a sequence of two separate dropoffs. And a protruding bastion in the middle of the stream visually divided the falls into left and right sides. Similar to the falls in Wolf Den Hollow, instead of making one big, wide leap, the water cascaded over countless small ledges and shelves.
I quickly worked to find vantage points that might make for pleasing photos, which lead me to wading in the swift water below the falls. The water wasn't very deep there, which makes me wonder where the name "The Blue Hole" comes from. The hole below the Wolf Den Hollow falls is definitely deep enough to make for a good swimming hole in warmer, drier weather, yet the waterfall on the southern fork is definitely the prettier of the two.
Photo © by Zack Andrews
I climbed back up to the eastern bank and took a few shots to document the area, then I gave up on photography and started searching for a geocache hidden nearby. With that mission accomplished, Zack and I headed downstream, where we hung a right and headed east upstream. Wolf Den Hollow upstream was very nice. It was flat with open woods around, though we had to cross the stream many times to stay on even ground. The narrow stream had many nice small drops. At one point we scrambled up the hillside to the south (our right) to get a closer view of a pretty waterfall that cascaded for 10 feet below free-falling over a bluff another 15 feet.
We hiked upstream a little over half a mile to the first major side hollow east of the big falls in Wolf Den Hollow. We turned north and went up that side hollow. I lost count of the number of nice water features there. We eventually found a 4-wheeler road on the east side of that hollow, which made for easy walking for a while. But then we somehow lost it about a quarter mile before we got back to the vehicle.
In Appleton on Hwy 124, turn north onto White Oak Mountain Road. There is a sign on the highway for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which is 0.3 miles down White Oak Mountain Road.
Drive 9.9 miles and turn west onto Lindsey Motorway.
Drive 1.4 miles to a jeep road on the south side of the road, and park.
Walk down the jeep road about 0.5 miles to a big deer camp area.
Turn left and walk straight down hill 0.5 miles to Wolf Den Hollow