Information on Mill Creek


Mill Creek

     Rating: II-III+
        TDCR: 4555
        Location: You can put in up in Devil's Canyon, but this is not recommended
		for three reasons.  One is that the put-in is a long drag into a gorge
		that is hard enough to access without having a boat to drag.  The second
		is that Devil's Canyon Branch of Mill Cr. is usually too small and dry to
		paddle, necessitating an even longer drag down to the main branch of 
		Mill Cr. The last reason is the multitude of deadfalls that require long
		portages on the upper creek.  The few good rapids in Devil's Canyon are
		not worth the effort. A better put-in can be reached by going about a
		mile north of the Hwy 215 bridge over Mill Cr.  You'll see the National
		Forest sign marking the forest boundary. Within the next mile there is a
		private inholding consisting of a big rectangular area on the left side of
		the road (the inholding is clearly marked on the Ozark National Forest Map).
		This was orignally owned by a church (still marked on the map) and
		there is a building that used to serve as the church but is now a private
		residence.  Keep going past this building and look for a gravel road on the
		left.  Go past this road and take the next small road on the left.  Drive
		as far as you can and then park and walk down to the creek. These directions
		are still very rough, so follow them at your own risk. The take-out is
		the easy to access Hwy 215 bridge over Mill Cr. a few miles north of I-40
		near Mulberry.  If you want to access in Devil's Canyon, you can follow
		Hwy. 215 north from the take-out until you see a small dirt road on the
		left with a red post near it.  Follow this road through a clear-cut 
		until you come to a posted gate.  Go right at this gate until you
		see the dark red National Forest Boundary marks on some trees.
		Park anywhere and start hiking left off of the road toward the
		canyon.
        Topo Quad(s): Fern, Mountainburg SE
        Gradient: 86 fpm
        Length: 7 mi. from Devil's Canyon to Hwy 215
        Season: RAIN
        Gauge: If the rapid above the 215 bridge appears to be runnable
                then it should be at a runnable level. The run is at the
                bottom of the creek, so the appearance of this rapid is a
				direct reflection of the conditions upstream.  The higher
				the water the better the ride over the slide drops upstream.
				The Mulberry should probably be around 5 ft. or more, but
				it is not a great gauge for Mill Cr. if rains are localized.
        Hazards:  strainers, undercut ledges and boulders
        Description: This is a strange, but cool Ozark creek.  If you are crazy enough
		to carry down into one of the steepest canyons in the Ozarks, Devil's
		Canyon, you'll be rewarded with a very small creek that has some good
		drops but little water.  This creek merges with the main branch of Mill
		Cr. about 1/2 mile downstream, and until this confluence there is rarely
		enough water to boat.  The first two miles of the creek are fairly
		uneventful, with constant easy class II drops and a couple of tougher
		rapids.  Then the next mile is a portage, with bunches of trees
		dropped into the creek by the tornado that ravaged Fort Smith in 1996.
		It almost looks as if the area has been clearcut and the trees left to
		rot.  The only bright side to this is that it gives you lots of time
		to admire the interesting bluffs that rise up to the left of the creek.
		After a long, ugly walk, the trees end, and fortunately they don't
		return.  This is where the second access point is - a much better place
		to put in.  After this point the creek gets quite interesting as it cuts
		down through several layers of sandstone and shale, creating numerous
		small falls and slides.  The biggest of these is Charlie's Slide
		which can be recognized by a car sized boulder that sits dead center
		just upstream of the slide.  The creek drops 10 to 15 feet over a very
		cool low-angle side drop.  The rapids for the next three miles are
		predominantly easy class III drops that are nearly continuous.  Stay
		alert for a couple of potentially nasty undercuts that can sneak up
		on you if you get too complacent.  At high water the surfing is
		about as good as it gets in the Ozarks.  True eastern style boating
		in your backyard.  Not as hard as it's tributary Little Mill Cr.,
		Mill Cr. has a bigger watershed and will be runnable when other
		creeks in the area are not going.  The first known kayak run of Mill
		creek was in 4/98 by Charlie "No Paddle" Stotts, Steve "Treedini" 
		Robertson, and Bill "Pickled" Herring, a truly crazy bunch of boaters.

Return to Index