Information on Falls Branch


Falls Branch

	Rating: III-V *
        TDCR: ???? 
        Location: Put-in: Go North on Hwy 123 at Lurton to Spence Junction.
                To the right is a dirt road which is the way to Richland.
                There is a large pond on the left (this is the headwaters
                to Falls Branch) Go North on Hwy 123 for ~1.25 miles to the
                next dirt road on the right. (Shulers Point) Go ~0.7 miles
                on this road to a parking area in front of a burmed road on
                the right. Drag South down the old roadbed to a field and
                then down from the left (East) edge of the field to the
                creek. Target is just above the junction of the two upper
                branches where the old roadbed crosses. (Elevation 1830)
                Reach the take-out by going back to Spence Junction and
                heading East on the dirt road. Take lefts at the two major
                intersections and head North on FR 1200 down the mountain
                toward Bass. Park on the side of the road near the low
                water bridge. (Elevation 890) The Shulers Point road does
                go down the hill to the confluence of Falls Branch and Cave
                Creek, but the FS gated it in the summer of 2001. But it
                could be used as an emergency access. 
        Topo Quad(s): Lurton
        Gradient: 150 fpm, (300+ fpm max)
        Length: 9 mi (4 on Falls Branch)
        Season: FLOOD
        Gauge: Gage at Richland Campground should to be above 6 or headed
                that way. Look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer, Ben Hur
                and Mt. Judea rain gages, at the BNR Data Page. Rain must
                have fallen within the last 6 to 12 hours. If the Pond at
                Spence Junction is spilling lots of water, it should be a
                run! 
        Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers,
                waterfalls. 
        Description: First known descent was April 22, 1996. By Cowper
                Chadbourn, Chris Anderson, Howard Elliot, Walter Felton
                (OC-1), Bob Hoffman, Lance Jones, Nate Kline, Robert Orr,
                Ted Smethers and Billy Williams. Falls Branch is a
                4.5-mile run down to Cave Creek, with and average gradient
                of 150 ft/mile, the first mile being 300 ft/mile. Due to
                closure of the 4WD road to the confluence, an additional
                4-5 mile paddle to the community of Bass is required. The
                creek starts out on bedrock with a short slide followed by
                a 10-12 foot waterfall just below the confluence of the
                upper forks. There is a large rock in the left center of
                the drop and a narrow line to land in just right of
                center. Exit through one of two slots and over a 6-foot
                waterfall. Now get ready for lots of action with very
                tight slots and boulder jumbles. Little bedrock is
                encountered for the next 0.25 miles. Many of the boulder
                jumbles offer pin and undercut dangers compounded with
                possible wood. Note: the first run occurred after a series
                of wind storms resulting in a very large number of trees down
                across the creek. Portaging these trees was a major chore
                and led to the renaming of the creek by the paddlers as
                'Dead' Falls Branch. Most of the drops were run. Once the
                bedrock returns, have fun on the first couple of slides
                but be on the lookout for the point where the slide takes
                a sharp turn to the left in front of a large boulder. This
                is 'Nate's Falls'. The drop is entirely on bedrock, but
                two undercut boulders add some spice. Start with the
                entrance turn to the left followed by a tight turn to the
                right through a slot. The large boulder on the left bank
                is undercut and may collect wood. Main route is to exit
                far right and cut back left before dropping 10-12 feet
                through a tight slot requiring a hard turn back to the
                right. The crux is not pinning on the undercut boulder
                forming the right side of the slot. Optional route (water
                level and wood/debris dependent) is a straight line
                through a slot between the boulders and down through the
                final slot. Several more boulder jumbles and slides are
                encountered shortly, topped off by a slot move into a
                steep 12-15 foot slide drop into a grotto pool. Fast class
                II-III water takes you from the next mile or so from the
                tribuary on the right. Two small ledge drops signal the
                approach of 'Surprise Turn'. The creek takes a hard turn
                to the left as it drops between two boulders. As you enter
                the white foaming maelstrom, you think "This is going to
                be ugly!" But the foam is suprisingly forgiving and you
                shoot out with a big smile. Stay to the center/left and
                away from the undercut wall on the right and line up for
                the next 5-6ft drop. Fast boogie water takes you to the
                confluence with Cave Creek as the gradient starts to
                subside. 80-100 ft/mile gradient continues downstream to
                the takeout on FR 1200. Be aware of strainers and willow
                jungles in this section. A road parallels the creek if 
                needed for portaging. Like other micro-volume creeks, 
                meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on 
                the accepted International scale. At lower levels, the 
                creek may seem like a very technical class III, with 
                much rock bashing, scraping, and some portages. At higher
                levels, several rapids are expected to become solid 
                class V.  In any case, paddlers need to be very 
                familliar with the hazards of small, steep Arkansas
                creeks before attempting this run.  Thanks to Lance
                Jones for information about this great creek!

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