Backpacking Bear Creek, Arkansas

Tucked beautifully in a canyon in Arkansas is Bear Creek, a creek that has many waterfalls that snake their way from canyon ridges over moss covered rocks and downed tree limbs to the canyon floor below. It just took one overnight backpacking trip here and I was hooked. We start out parking at a turnout (see approximate directions below). Heading down an old forestry road, you go past a small field and then you take a right heading into the woods. First though, you should know, this is NOT a trail, this is a bushwhack-which is making your way to a destination by navigating without the means of a trail. You are close to the top of the bluff and as you begin to make your way down the drainage through small trees and over boulders. As you inch slowly toward Bear Creek, you can get completely caught up in the number of waterfalls along the way. You explore each one and squeal in excitement when you see another one, spilling water even more generously than the one before. After you’ve admired several waterfalls and made your way down the bluff, you start to hear a sound you might not recognize at first. Then, as you keep going, you will recognize the sound is that of water, a lot of water and it builds excitement as you finish making your way down to Bear Creek. When you get to the creek, it runs in front of you and I stand and watch it breathlessly, because I can barely take it in. To your right, the water spills over several boulders back as far as you can see and if you look left, that water spills over a falls and snakes and disappears around a very steep slot and around a huge rock formation and the water from the drainage joins there as well, making it a very noisy junction. I don’t know how many gallons of water flow through there at any given moment, but, I can tell you that when the water is up, it is very powerful and you could get hurt if you aren’t paying attention. This is a very good place to stop and have a break or lunch while you try to take it all in. I recommend going to the right and exploring that area first. You can go several hundred yards up the creek where a smaller fall spills into a fairly good sized lagoon. The water is so beautiful. It is creamy light turquoise. Interestingly enough, just atop the bluff where this spills over into the lagoon is a huge rock that looks like it could just fall into the lagoon at any moment, though, it has been exactly in the same position since the first time I was there in 2013. When you get back to where you have started and head down Bear Creek, you can see check out the water as it spills below and disappears around a bend in the rocks and through a steep v slot to another lagoon where the water pools and is creamy light turquoise here too. No mater how many times I go here, I still take several photos here, because depending on the season and the amount of recent rain, this spot looks different. It is my favorite spot on the whole hike. If you wanted to day hike, from here, you could just head back up the drainage but, if you are backpacking, I recommend you continue to follow the creek for a good distance and you will find a nice flat place to camp for the night. It is a great place with access to water, a good place for a campfire, plenty of wood and a good flat place to set up your tent. After dinner and story time around the campfire, hopefully it’s a clear night and you can check out the stars before you crawl into your sleeping bag for a good night’s sleep. After a hearty breakfast, that’s when you realize you have to make the climb out. It is not a horrible climb out but, it will kick your butt if you are out of shape. I forget about the climb as we head back pretty much the same way we came in and I get to see the creek again, drawing me back into the magic of the day before. The sound of the water is hypnotic and I think I could listen to it all day long, which is the main reason I love this hike. At the beginning of every backpacking season, I always want to come here at least once. So, if you are looking for a great new place to explore, go here! Directions: to get to this place, take why 7 from Jasper, Arkansas to the 123 intersection at Pelsor and go west approximately 5 miles. Turn south on Treat Road and go approximately 2 miles and you will see a turnout. This is an old forestry road. I suggest before you go here to hike though, search and find exact directions.

First waterfall I saw

Note the big rock hanging on the edge
Camping apot

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