If you are looking for a great place to head outdoors in Northern Arkansas, consider the Richland Creek area. For day hikers or backpackers, you can camp in the campground and day hike to Richland Falls, Twin Falls and even Sandstone Castle or you can hike in and camp. The trails to Richland Falls and to Twin Falls are well worn and very easy to follow and you will be rewarded by the sounds of the creek as you hike and part of the time the trail will lead you beside the creek. Be prepared for water crossings, as you will cross the creek a couple of times. Also, be mindful of previous rainfall, as this could make water crossings treacherous. The views are incredible and one of my favorite things about this area is the huge boulders and rocks to climb around on and marvel at. After several great views of the boulders and creek, you will cross the creek and hang a left to make your way up to Richland Falls, which is incredible. It is a great waterfall. If you are hot, you can get in and cool off. Also, just above that waterfall is a nice flat place to camp if you are backpacking. After you explore this waterfall, turn back toward where you come from and instead of turning right to go back across the creek again, go left up the trail and follow that trail to Twin Falls. It is not far to these falls and you are rewarded with two waterfalls. You can explore the falls area and even go around behind them and maximize the photo opportunities. This is a great place to take a break and take it all in. The trail to the Sandstone Castle goes uphill from here and is a steep uphill climb. Though it is a challenge, when you do make it to the top, it is incredible. First because you actually made it up that hill and second because years of wind erosion have caused these incredible views and formations in the rocks. And, some people even camp up there. If you should decide to camp there, make sure you have plenty of water because it is a long climb back down to get water.
When we were there this past weekend, the campground was full and we found a place to camp just across the creek. As we were exploring the area, we found an old trail head that we hadn’t heard of, but could tell it ran beside the creek on the opposite side of the trails aforementioned. We thought we would follow the trail and assumed it went to Twin Falls. The trail was not well used and several times, we would lose the trail to boulder fields and then we would find it again. Just when we should have been closing in on the waterfall, we realized we had been off trail for a while and decided we needed to find the trail. As we were bushwhacking up the hill looking for the trail, Brian saw something moving and heard a noise at the same time and it was the biggest rattlesnake we have ever seen! I turned and headed the other direction and we decided it was not so important to keep going. Though I was disappointed to be so close and not get to see the falls, I was happy to be going the opposite direction of that big bad snake and every time I heard a noise after that, I was sure it was another. When you are hiking, remember it is more important to be safe than sorry. We will go back here in the winter when the snakes are burrowed in for the winter.