Christy and I slept in a little on Monday.  Then when hit Albertsons for our big grocery store run of the trip.  Once we finished our chores, we headed out of Texarkana, bound for Little Rock.  We enjoyed a quiet drive all the way to Little Rock and beyond.  We headed up into the Ozarks and soon found ourselves on a narrow, crooked road.  In most places, roads like this are “curvy” or “winding”.  In Arkansas, they are crooked (insert your favorite Clinton joke here).  There were a number of expansive views from the escarpment as we passed through the community of Deer.  It was along this stretch that I hiked with my friends Spencer and Stephanie the previous September.  We had visited the Tea Table Rocks.  That hike had been great, except that we ended up covered with baby ticks.  I itched for weeks.  I still shudder when I think about that experience.  I actually considered hiking back out there that afternoon to see the waterfalls pouring off the escarpment.  In September they had been dry, but recent heavy rains ensured they would be flowing strong.  I couldn’t do it though.  Not even in a suit of armor.  Every time I thought about going back out there my mind returned to those ticks.


We drove a bit farther, until we reached the pulloff and the trailhead for Glory Hole Falls.  The trailhead is a non-descript spot along the side of the main road.  Up until a few years ago this destination was off the radar, but it is popular now.  Although it was a Monday afternoon, there were several other cars here.


We parked and walked down the forest road.  There were some nice wildflowers along here, though the peak bloom was still a week or two away.  The road was wet and muddy from all of the recent rain.  That was encouraging, as Glory Hole Falls dries up completely during extended periods of dry weather. 


We passed a couple of groups on their way out as we hiked.  Before long we crossed Dismal Creek and began working our way downstream.  We reached a small but pretty waterfall adjacent to a long overhanging cliff.  Just downstream was another small waterfall into a pretty green pool.  Beyond that was a run of rapids and minor cascades leading right to the Glory Hole.


At the Glory Hole, Dismal Creek disappears down a natural vertical shaft in the limestone.  The hole is just a few yards from the brink of an impressive cliff.  If the hole wasn’t there, Dismal Creek would tumble over the cliff, forming a traditional waterfall.  Instead, the waterfall it forms is more unique.


Dismal Creek drops 31’ at Glory Hole Falls.  Most of the drop is inside the cliff, in the limestone shaft.  That shaft opens up into a cave.  The final 12’ or so is a freefall right out of a hole in the ceiling of the cave.


We went to the top first, to view the creek disappearing down the shaft.  I thought about scrambling down to the very rim of the hole, but the rocks were wet and the descent looked a little sketchy.  Plus, it didn’t look like getting closer would improve the view.  We followed the rim of the cliff to the right until we reached a break.  There is a safe, easy place to descend here.  Once at the base of the cliff, we followed an easy trail around to the base of the falls.


Glory Hole Falls is spectacular.  Seeing a creek fall out of a hole in the ceiling of a cave was an amazing sight to behold.  I spent some time photographing it from every conceivable angle while Christy relaxed and enjoyed the view.  Luckily, we had it to ourselves when we first arrived.  Three other hikers did arrive a bit later, after I was finished taking photos.


We hiked back to the car in less than an hour.  From there we drove north towards the town of Jasper.  There are several great viewpoints along this road, and we stopped at a couple of official overlooks.  We continued beyond Jasper towards the Ozark Campground.  The turn isn’t marked, and we missed it on the first pass.  We found it eventually, and we were delighted to find that the campground was mostly empty.  There were plenty of campsites to choose from, so we picked one below the road, on a small bluff above the river.  There was a rapid directly below, which made pleasant music throughout our stay.  Just downstream, on the far side of the river, is an impressive cliff.  That cliff added some impressive scenery to a pleasant, peaceful spot.


We set up camp, cooked dinner, and relaxed.  We would be spending the next 3 days in the area, and it was a relief knowing that we wouldn’t have to go anywhere for awhile.

Continue reading about our trip as we hike to the waterfalls and caves in the headwaters of the Left Fork of Big Creek.

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Please remember to Leave No Trace!