Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1

    Richland Creek Wilderness, Ozark National Forest - Part Deux

    I had another foray into the Richland Creek Wilderness in the Ozark National Forest in northern Arkansas. Unfortunately, most of my picture taking was in the middle of the day so the quality is horrible. They certainly don't convey the beauty of this place but may make up for my lackluster narrative!

    I started this hike at the Richland Creek campground with the intention of hiking to Richland Falls , Twin Devil Falls, on up to the Mill Stones on Big Devilís Fork and then to the Sandstone Castle for camp. Sandstone Castle was my primary objective. This bluff cave was reputed to be an outlaw hideout in the early 1900's and was also recently recognized as a top campsite by Backpacker magazine.

    The day got off to a slow start. I shared my map with some younger guys to get them oriented. They were going to hike up Falling Water creek thinking it was actually Richland Creek. Probably not a good idea to hike in a wilderness area without a map and compass. After finding a good place to cross Falling Water creek, locating the trail, and getting the other hikers off on the right foot I was finally on my way. The weather was great and the hike uneventful up to Richland Falls. The falls were flowing well and the sun was warm so I found a place to cross and had lunch while drying my feet. One of the previously mentioned hikers arrived as I was packing up. Apparently, the other two hikers were not up to the effort and he had left them resting.

    Name:  P1020969.jpg
Views: 533
Size:  232.0 KB
    "Richland Falls"

    I continued on to Twin Devil Falls, enjoyed the scenery and then pressed on to find Hamilton Falls and then the Mill Stones.

    Name:  P1020971.jpg
Views: 1528
Size:  195.6 KB
    "Twin Devil Falls"

    I was unable to locate any trail on the East side of Big Devilís Fork so I just followed the creek bed upstream. I successfully found Hamilton Falls. It would be a great place to sit in the middle of summer! It looks to have a built in chaise for a refreshing rest.

    Name:  P1020977.jpg
Views: 719
Size:  203.7 KB
    "Hamilton Falls"

    I continued further upstream to find the mill stones which would mark my transition point off the creek and up to the Sandstone Castle.

    The Mill Stones (actual milling stones from an old mill) proved elusive. My compass bearings seemed right and based on my travel time I should have encountered the stones. I continued to hike upstream but never reached them by the time my turnaround time came. Perhaps I had missed a branch in the fork? Perhaps they were obscured by fallen trees? Unsure of my exact location, I did not want wander blindly uphill carrying water (possible elevation change of about 600ft in .5 miles) and hope to locate the Castle. It would be dark in a couple hours and I thought it was best to fall back to a campsite in the bend of Richland Creek near Richland Falls.

    I was certainly disappointed but at least I would be at camp before nightfall. I would have plenty of time to prepare a warm fire. As I enjoyed my fire and dinner, night came and the cold with it. I dropped into the hammock early due to a full belly, a long day of off trail hiking, and the down quilts awaiting me. I knew I would be up early and as I lay in the hammock I decided I could attempt the Sandstone Castle in the morning via an alternate route up Big Middle Ridge.

    Around 6:00 AM I began breakfast from the warmth of my hammock and by 7:30 camp was broken and I was ready to attempt the Castle again. This time I crossed above Twin Falls and started heading up the ridge to find the target. I knew roughly that the Castle was located at the high point of Big Middle Ridge and that should be about 323 degrees bearing from twin falls. I sighted it in and started looking for trail. Initially, there was some discernible trail heading up, but shortly after the first bluff line, the trail started to fade. I rechecked my bearings and noted the next bench line on my topo. I decided to ease up to it and found a faint jeep trail near the next bluff. I followed this trail a ways and then lost it in a heavy blown down area. After some additional scrambling uphill and map and compass work, I joined back up with the jeep trail as it started to head steeply uphill to the next bench. At this point I could see the bluff of the Castle ahead of me and it was easy work from there. This place must be pretty hard to find when the trees are greened out!

    The efforts were worth it and I certainly wish I had found this place the evening before. What a great place to camp! It felt like I was on top of the wilderness here. Sunrise and sunset from up here must have been great as well. Iíll certainly be back!

    Name:  P1020995.jpg
Views: 1001
Size:  217.7 KB
    "Inside the Sandstone Castle"

    Name:  P1030009.jpg
Views: 582
Size:  110.7 KB
    "Column at Sandstone Castle"

    Name:  P1030030.jpg
Views: 546
Size:  244.4 KB
    "Sandstone Castle from ridge top"

    Name:  P1030039.jpg
Views: 481
Size:  172.4 KB
    "Ridge at Sandstone Castle"

    This hike did not go exactly as planned and I had to check my ego and abandon my initial attempt at finding landmarks, but I still managed to enjoy the wilderness and I learned a lot more about an area I will certainly visit again. I think I will come in from Hill Cemetery next time and see if I canít find those stones!

  2. #2
    TrailGroove.com Aaron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    740
    Blog Entries
    43
    Great report - Really enjoyed the photos and write-up! Sounds like an interesting area with some cool sites to check out using a little map and compass work. The Castle looks especially interesting. Hoping to make it down to AR this Fall myself...Maybe hit a long stretch along the Ouachita Trail.
    Current Issue: TrailGroove Magazine Issue #18

  3. #3
    Senior Member Gary M's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Olathe, Kansas
    Posts
    202
    Really enjoyed your report on the Ozark National Forest hike. I used to travel the general area for business ever couple of months, and sometimes found time to get in some hiking.

    Also, my wife and I were into scuba diving BK (Before Kids), and used to camp and learned scuba at Norfolk and Bull Shoals which are not too far away. Got in some hiking at what is now called the Leatherwood Wilderness by the White River. I think we used Mountain Home as a base, but I guess that is not technically the Ozark National Forest. Wonderful area, back then not many people were backpacking or hiking there, mainly boaters.

    Gary M

  4. #4
    Aaron, the colors are always great in the fall. Would love to see some Arkansas in the magazine!
    Gary, glad I could take you back. I'll keep posting trip reports from the area.

  5. #5
    TrailGroove.com Aaron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    740
    Blog Entries
    43
    Quote Originally Posted by WanderAR View Post
    Aaron, the colors are always great in the fall. Would love to see some Arkansas in the magazine!
    Definitely trying to time the fall colors just right...We'll see how it works out! And I'm sure we'll be sharing some photos and maybe a story or two from along the way...
    Current Issue: TrailGroove Magazine Issue #18

  6. #6
    Senior Member Gary M's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Olathe, Kansas
    Posts
    202
    WanderAR; Yes please more.......

    I'm starting to dream about a fall hiking trip. I was thinking about a return after many years to the Irish Wilderness area of the Eleven Point River, but a bit further southwest into Arkansas sounds very tempting. I'd love to see more options of what is going on trailwise.

    Gary M

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary M View Post
    WanderAR; Yes please more.......

    I'd love to see more options of what is going on trailwise.

    Gary M
    Gary, I would encourage you to register at
    http://www.backpackingarkansas.net

    It is the single best place for trail info for Arkansas.
    It's a very active network of hikers and they contribute a lot of info about the trails and trail conditions throughout the state.

    Aaron, it's also a great place to get up to date I of on the Ouachita Trail so it would be great for your planning efforts. I've also seem trailgroove mentioned on the forums so there may be some mutual benefit there.

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Senior Member Gary M's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Olathe, Kansas
    Posts
    202
    Thank you, I will add it to my Favorite Bar and visit as I make plans later this year. Thanks again.

  10. #10
    TrailGroove.com Aaron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    740
    Blog Entries
    43
    Thanks WanderAR, will definitely take a look and I'll be keeping an eye on the fall foliage updates this Fall...
    Current Issue: TrailGroove Magazine Issue #18

Similar Threads

  1. Ozark Trail Tradedy
    By Gary M in forum General Backpacking & Hiking
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 02-21-2013, 05:58 AM
  2. Unicoi to Dicks Creek Gap AT Section
    By JasonByers in forum Trip Reports
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 02-18-2013, 03:13 PM
  3. Richland Creek Wilderness, Ozark National Forest
    By WanderAR in forum Trip Reports
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 11-09-2012, 10:14 AM
  4. Athens-Big Fork Trail, Ouachita Natl Forest, AR
    By WanderAR in forum Trip Reports
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 10-15-2012, 05:29 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-11-2012, 07:33 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •