Well, I finally got my wish!
I was able to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall colors that are currently peaking in the Ozarks of Arkansas!
What better place to enjoy the color than the Hurricane Creek Wilderness area? It’s dead center in the middle of the Ozarks and, from what I experienced this weekend, the peak color. The trees were absolutely gorgeous along the creek! This may be my new favorite place in Arkansas, and I’ve said that about a lot of places.
In the middle of the Boston Mountains, Hurricane Creek tumbles along its boulder-strewn way, sparkling in pool after pool, through the center of this Wilderness. Limestone and sandstone bluffs, some over 100 feet high, loom above the rippling water. Second- and third-growth upland hardwoods, primarily oak and hickory, forest the surrounding lands, growing among narrow, V-shaped valleys. Dogwood, redbud, serviceberry, and witch hazel form the understory. Side drainages into the creek offer rugged traveling. Elevations surpass 2,200 feet on the high ridges.
At the turn of the century, as many as 70 families inhabited Hurricane Creek Valley. While they’re long gone, their homes, farms, cemeteries, and roads live on, although nature is gradually reclaiming ground.
The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT), partly an old pioneer road, crosses the Wilderness in a 19.5-mile, southwest-northeast path, bookended by parking lots. The Ozark Highlands Trail Guide rates this section as “one of the most scenic spots in Arkansas.” Among the scenery is a huge natural rock bridge that parallels Hurricane Creek. A high-water bypass on the OHT allows year-round access but eliminates some of the best scenery. All during the year you’ll have to wade across the shallow but slick-bottomed creek, and black bears have been known to raid camps, and some of the land within the boundaries is private . . . none of which should deter you from this pristine slice of Arkansas Wilderness.
Have you had a chance to get out and explore the peak color this year? If not, some color may still be hanging around next weekend, but expect it to fall off as the week progresses.
The Ouachitas may see color a little bit longer, although the river valley is looking to be in peak currently as well.