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Backpacker Magazine – February 2001

Arkansas' Waterfall Paradise

If you're a fan of waterfalls, then Arkansas's Richland Creek Wilderness is your dream trip.

by: Marty Tessmer

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EXPEDITION PLANNER

DRIVE TIME: Richland Creek Wilderness is in northwestern Arkansas, 173 miles from Little Rock.

THE WAY: From Russellville, take AR 7 north for 37 miles to Pelsor. Turn right onto AR 16 and drive east for 10 miles to Ben Hur. Continue for 1.5 miles to Forest Service Road 1205 (on the left). The Richland Creek Campground and trailhead are 9 miles down Forest Service Road 1205.

TRAILS: Unofficial trails wind along Richland Creek, Big Devils Fork, and Long Devils Fork for a total of about 10 miles. With a map, you can add as many off-trail miles as you please. Note that stream crossings may be impossible after a heavy rain. For a longer hike on a maintained trail, the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail passes along the edge of the wilderness area. A good 20-mile-round-trip hike starts at the Richland Creek Campground and extends north to Dry Creek.

ELEVATION: Creek bottoms in the wilderness are as low as 1,000 feet, with high points topping out at just above 2,000 feet.

CAN'T MISS: Twin Falls and Richland Falls. Allow plenty of time for both.

CROWD CONTROL: Except during hunting season (November and December), finding solitude is rarely a problem.

GUIDES: Buffalo River Hiking Trails, by Tim Ernst (available from Cloudland. Net, 800-838-4453; www.cloudland.net; $16.95). USDA Forest Service Richland Creek Wilderness map ($3; see Contact below).

WALK SOFTLY: Camp at least 200 feet from the waterfalls, both to protect these fragile areas and to give others a chance to enjoy them.

CONTACT: Ozark National Forest, Buffalo Ranger District, (870) 446-5122; www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/recreation/ wilderness.html


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