Ozark Mountains, AR
You won’t be the first person to hole up in the maze of tunnels and grottos riddling these sandstone bluffs in the Richland Creek Wilderness—outlaws and Civil War deserters did the same in centuries past. But you won’t have to worry about sharing it with a crowd: Few of today’s hikers even know the castles exist. Reaching them involves routefinding puzzles on rough, unmaintained use trails. From the west side of the former Richland Creek campground—on FS Road 1200, 10 miles south of AR 123—follow an unmaintained trail 200 yards west through forest to the first water crossing, Richland Creek. Turn west and walk upstream two miles to the confluence of Richland Creek (which swings south) and Big Devils Fork; detour south along Richland Creek to reach 100-foot-wide Richland Falls (.4 mile out-and-back). Then head back to follow Big Devils Fork .4 mile west to Twin Falls, which pour side-by-side several feet over rock ledges into an emerald pool. Pack water for camping and ascend steep Big Middle Ridge between the two waterfalls for .9 mile to the Sandstone Castles, where there’s space for several tents in the roomy caves. Go from fall through spring; summer brings dense undergrowth.
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Contact (870) 446-5122, fs.usda