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Magnolias, azaleas in bloom on waterfall trail

by Flip Putthoff | May 7, 2019 at 1:00 a.m.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Trees begin to show some green at Magnolia Falls.

Magnolia Falls in the Buffalo River country lives up to its name when wild blossoms put on their springtime show.

A trio of cascades at Magnolia Falls are a sight to behold. Two are easy to find. A third requires some rough bushwhacking. Time a visit for late April to see flowering magnolia trees in full bloom at Magnolia Falls.

More cascades to see

The Buffalo National River area is home to dozens, if not hundreds, of waterfalls, especially after heavy rain.

Eden Falls in Lost Valley is a three-tiered cascade that is easy to get to with a 1.1-mile hike, 2.2-miles round-trip. Lost Valley is re-opened after being closed for repair.

Sweden Creek Falls is a stunning cascade that plunges 80 feet in the Sweden Creek Natural Area four miles south of Kingston.

Source: Staff report

A trek with the Hill 'N Dale Hiking Club on April 12 was too early to see magnolia blossoms. Yet Magnolia Falls was flowing full with the soothing sound of water splashing and crashing over rock.

Timing was right on April 27 when hikers from The Ozark Society's Sugar Creek chapter trekked to Magnolia Falls. Magnolia trees were in peak bloom, reports Cris Jones, the hike leader.

Magnolia Falls plunges about 25 feet in two tiers to fill a shimmering oval lagoon with clear, cold water. In short order, the water spills over another lip of rock to form Woods Boys Falls mere steps away from Magnolia Falls.

A third waterfall, Stahle Falls, is nearby. Seeing this 63-foot wonder adds an extra mile or more of bushwhack hiking to the journey. The Hill 'N Dale group marveled at Magnolia Falls and Woods Boys Falls, then hiked out for their planned visit to Sweden Creek Falls. The cascade plunges 80 feet in the Sweden Creek Natural Area between Boxley and Kingston.

Magnolia Falls is easy to find. From Boxley, head south on Arkansas 21 to the Mossville community. Drive south past the Mossville church for 2.5 miles. Turn right onto gravel Newton County Road 9050. Go 0.3 miles on this road to a sign that says wilderness access. Park here. Driving directions and detailed hike information is found in "Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook," by Tim Ernst. It's a must-have volume for aspiring waterfall hunters.

The trail to Magnolia Falls starts on a road trace that's across the road from the access sign. Follow the road trace for about one-half mile. Just beyond a rough, rocky section the trail veers off to the left.

Follow this for about another one-quarter mile or so to a fallen tree across the trail with a little creek just past the tree. Step across the creek and turn left on another trail. Go another one-quarter mile or so to Magnolia Falls.

Woods Boys Falls is a 63-footer just downstream from Magnolia Falls. It can be viewed from the top only, unless hikers opt for the bushwhack hike around and down a bluff, then backtracking up the creek to the base of Woods Boys Falls.

Author Ernst named many of the waterfalls in his guidebook. He named Woods Boys Falls in honor of the Woods family who live in the area and are fine stewards of the land, Ernst writes.

Jones, leader of The Ozark Society hike to Magnolia Falls, is a Northwest Arkansas master naturalist who knows his trees.

The trees at the waterfall are umbrella magnolias, he said. Late April is the prime time to see them in bloom. About a half-dozen magnolia trees grow at the waterfall area, Jones said.

The Ozark Society Group also opted for a hike to Sweden Creek Falls after their Magnolia Falls hike.

"We saw cucumber magnolia trees there, and they were just starting to bloom," Jones said. "They start a little later than the umbrella magnolias."

Sweden Creek Falls is also known for its wild azaleas. They were just starting to flower April 27, Jones said. Visitors to Sweden Creek Falls should see wild azaleas -- properly called mountain azaleas -- at their peak for the next several days, he said.

A word of warning about Magnolia Falls and Sweden Creek Falls. Both feature high bluffs that require extreme alertness and caution while exploring around the cascades. Adults should use prudent judgment when deciding whether to take children. Ideally, adults should visit the waterfalls first, then decide.

Sports on 05/07/2019

Print Headline: Blossom frame waterfall wonders


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