Roadside Waterfalls

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The soothing sound of nighttime rain on the rooftop means that the first rays of morning light will shine on the waterfalls as they tumble loudly and proudly across the land.

Heavy rains in the first week of May created perfect conditions to lace up waterproof boots, pack a picnic and head out on a safari to the Ozarks waterfalls.

Hiking is a safe way to access dozens, if not hundreds of waterfalls in the area that come alive after a downpour. Still, there’s plenty to see without even getting out of the car, or accessible via a short walk.

Another name for the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway after a heavy rain could be Arkansas Waterfall Avenue. Tall waterfalls tumble in glistening sheets from the cliffs beside the two-lane paved road, which is Arkansas 215 between Cass and Oark. The road stretches 18 miles between Arkansas 23 near Cass and Arkansas 103 in Oark.

On May 6, a trio of waterfall hunters found every small creek, creek and waterfall spilling along the road two days after six inches or more of rain flooded the Ozarks and the river valley.

Teamwork led to the discovery of three large waterfalls reaching 70 feet high. It took a designated driver to keep an eye on the road while two passengers stood watch for the waterfall.

The challenge of hunting waterfalls in May is that the leaves begin to hide these waterfall gems from view. The best conditions are in winter and early spring when the trees are bare or just beginning to bud.

This wasn’t the group’s first stunt rodeo along the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway. They had hiked it every season and had a good idea of ​​where to find dandy stunts.

With the car windows rolled down, they heard the first waterfall before they saw it. Parking near the High Bank canoe access along the Mulberry River was in order for a short walk to the waterfall.

Through the greenery a 50 footer spilled over a rock face with steps like ladder rungs. The sight was quite breathtaking from the road, but a walk of about 30 meters took the hunters to the base of the waterfall for a closer view.

Canoe access to High Bank is near another waterfall which is the highest on the road. This is the High Bank Waterfall, with two cascades falling 70 feet side by side as two shimmering silver curtains.

The High Bank twin waterfall requires a bit of a hike to see. From the High Bank canoe access, walk east along the highway for approximately 50 yards. Here, there is a small paved parking space that will be able to hold a few cars. The trail is across the sidewalk from this trailhead.

It’s a rocky hike about 100 yards along a creek, but the reward is worth it. High Bank was flowing fast and full that May morning, so much so that it created its own misty breeze. The double waterfall flows into an oval lagoon. From there, the clear water continues its descent.

The two waterfalls already seen would make anyone’s safari, but one of the hunters was worried that we would miss another stunning waterfall like High Bank – if he could find it.

As the designated driver drove slowly, the lookout’s keen eyes detected streaks of silver through the green leaves. If this waterfall has no name, it should be. It’s in the same league as High Bank, but closer to the freeway. The safari trio braved a hike through tall grass and a wet forest of rocks and roots for 30 meters.

If they had wanted a cold shower, they could have been lounging here in the splashing waterfall. Not only that, a bit of uphill clamor brings hikers behind this waterfall for a different perspective.

Most waterfalls in the Ozarks are dependent on rainfall. May usually marks the end of the waterfall hunting season. Yet every time a rain gauge fills to the brim, the waterfalls flow.

Waterfall walkers left nothing but footprints and took nothing but photos along the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
photo This waterfall is only 30 meters from the highway. It allows waterfall hikers to shout behind the waterfall while Karen and Tom Mowry watch the base of the waterfall. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
photo The waterfalls can be seen from the highway along the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway. The route is Arkansas 215 in Franklin and Johnson counties. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
photo Flip Putthoff/NWA Democrat-Gazette A tiered waterfall tumbles near the highway along the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway as Tom and Karen Mowry admire the flow. Heavy rains in the first week of May caused waterfalls to flow through the area, creating ideal conditions for waterfall hikes. Large and small waterfalls flow along the scenic highway, which is Arkansas 215, after heavy rainfall.
photo Flip Putthoff/NWA Democrat-Gazette The twin waterfalls of the High Bank Waterfall are a sight to behold along the Mulberry River Road Scenic Byway. Heavy rains in the first week of May caused waterfalls to flow through the area, creating an ideal opportunity for waterfall hikes. Karen and Tom Mowry reached the waterfall via a short trail from the highway to the waterfall.
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