May 19, 2016
Pops wanted to tackle Indian Creek today. After reviewing it on AllTrails and seeing there were many falls and cascades, I was down for the hike. Little did I know just how treacherous the trail really was. We parked at Kyle’s Landing and followed the Ozark Highland Trail for a little way until we came to the marker for Indian Creek. We stayed on that trail that ran alongside a very dry creek bed. Dad and I assumed we would have a dry run today, but would still get some great photos. We first came to what looked like a pit in the middle of the creek bed. It was somewhat creepy. Especially since there wasn’t another soul where we were.
We stayed on the creek bed since it was dry instead of taking the higher trail. After about half a mile we came to flowing water. But this meant the lower trail got a little more difficult. We could see where people had been before as well as their muddy shoe prints. We followed whatever daredevil was before us. We came to some spots that were not only muddy, but we only had about 6 inches of walking space on rock ledges. This meant a lot of rock wall hugs and scootching our feet around the overhangs while dangling about 20 feet above the water. We knew the fall wouldn’t kill us, but it would’ve hurt.
The water all of a sudden disappeared and we were back to dry creek bed. It took us awhile to figure out that the water was going underground and coming back out further downstream. This place didn’t even seem like Arkansas. I felt like I was in New Zealand. Pops and I found the first “fall”. It was a small one, but the rock beneath it made the picture worth the hold up.
The next fall we found was Copperhead Falls. It was a fairly impressive cascade that prompted another break from our cliffhanging, creek hopping, near death hike.
After our break we continued on. The creek led us to first what is called Arkansas Cave Falls or also known as Tunnel Cave Falls. The water falls about 30 feet out of a cave into Indian Creek. It wasn’t fast flowing, but still a sight to see.
Adjacent to Tunnel Cave Falls is an amazing waterfall that flows down a crack in the wall of a small canyon. We sat here for quite some time catching our breath, valuing our life. We couldn’t go much further.
Our only option was up. Let me clarify. Up a shoestring sized rope that scaled an inverted rock wall. This is how to get to the Eye of the Needle Falls after crawling through a cave that was directly uphill a muddy trail after the ropes. When you haul around 20 lbs of camera equipment you tend to be less daring and this looked like a recipe for disaster. The up part isn’t that bad. It was more of the coming back down that looked not so fun. A little discouraged, pops and I headed back out of Indian Creek. This time looking for the high trails to avoid the rock ledges. Im not sure this was a much better option. We did avoid the mouse trails, but now we had a muddy, slippery, narrow route with a much steeper drop off. I can see why so many people get hurt on this trail. It is rated as a difficult bushwhack. Difficult it definitely is. Even though the distance isn’t as bad as some we’ve done, it was extremely arduous. The most strenuous 5 miles of my life….so far.