A Dog-Friendly Hike
Sometimes you need to do something sorta special, something different. Sometimes you’re limited by location, timing or budget. That’s when you take a look at all the beautiful things around you, the things in your own backyard that you’ve never seen or done.
Stand in an Ozark waterfall on my 44th birthday?
Drink champagne while sitting on a rock next to my dog and listening to the sounds of nature?
Why, yes. I think that’s exactly what I’ll do.
So Henri and I set out on June 3rd, 2015 for an hour and half drive to Fallsville, Arkansas, and a short hike.
Finding the Glory Hole Trail
Finding The Glory Hole is no easy task. Even if you have directions and think you know where it is, unless you’ve been there, you might miss it. Typing ‘Glory Hole Falls’ into Google maps won’t help much, but it’ll get you close. Explore the Ozarks has about the best directions, but AllTrails is good, too.
Here’s what you need to know: It’s located along AR 16 W/AR 21 S. It’s between Cassville Baptist Church and what looks like a lumber yard. I was sure I was in the right vicinity when I drove past the lumber yard. So, I turned around and pulled in for directions.
My arrival was announced by three dogs all barking excitedly at my car. Luckily, I’m a fairly knowledgeable dog trainer, and based on the body language of the dogs, I determined them to be friendly. I followed the loud buzzing sound to the sawmill area and got out. Of course, I greeted the dogs first. As I pet them, a gentleman with a warm smile approached.
I was clearly lost.
Just as I began to say, “I’m looking for the…” He held up his hand and stopped me.
“Two things,” he said. “First, it’s not the Glory Hole. Folks ‘round here call it ‘The Hole in the Rock’. That’s what it’s been for a hundred years, and it wasn’t the Glory Hole until some fancy photographer came out here, took some pictures, and put it in his book.” I laughed.
That photographer was Tim Ernst, by the way, and you can find much better photos than mine in his book, Arkansas Waterfalls.
“Second thing,” he said. “It’s right down there.” He pointed to indicate the direction I should go. “Pull out of here, go that-a-way and it’s exactly three miles down the road on the right.”
Look For the Jeep Road
All the directions you can Google will tell you to look for some big red barn with a white ‘E’ painted on the side of it. Maybe I’m just oblivious, but I never saw it.
However, the place where you park, about a one car wide by maybe five cars long strip of gravely dirt, is located directly across the street from the ‘K’s Country Kitchen’ sign.
They call it a Jeep road, because it certainly isn’t an Avalon road, and if your car is very low to the ground you will likely bottom out going from black top to parking.
We hopped out of the car, and while I applied bug spray, Henri ran off to potty. He came back with three ticks crawling on his leg, so I sprayed him, too.
You’ll walk (or drive if you’ve got a 4WD) along the Jeep road for about a ¼ mile. There, the road splits. Go to the right. The day we went, there was a big piece of plywood leaned against a tree. I think it’s supposed to be some sort of bulletin board, but there wasn’t anything useful or legible printed on it. It’s a good marker, but I wouldn’t count on it to be there in the future. If you drove the 1/4 mi, from this point you’ll have to walk.
The roadbed is steep, but maintains a pretty easy, clearly marked walking trail. It’s about 1 mile to the top of the bluff line that overlooks the falls.
If it’s been raining, you’ll hear the sounds of Dismal Creek running over the rocks before you see it. Once at the bluff line, you can see where the creek has drilled a hole through the rock, hence the name.
The real majesty, however, is beneath that hole.
Getting Your Dog to Glory Hole Falls
There isn’t really a trail. You’ll just have to make your way down the hill. It’s steep, rocky, and in places the rocks are very wet, mossy, and slick. Water shoes would be a great addition to your daypack for this hike and you might even want a walking stick. It’s tricky, and I had to work to find a route that I thought was safe for Henri, but if you can make your way down, it is ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT.
Smaller dogs might need to be carried. Bigger dogs should be very agile.
The water is stunningly clear and the fall is simply amazing. If you’ve never stood under a waterfall, I highly recommend it. The water was cold, refreshing, and cleansing.
Henri, unfortunately, thought it was just one big shower and most certainly a trick. He wanted none of my “cleansing”. You can see how happy he seems.
Glory Hole Cave
We copped a squat on a rock and stayed at the fall for quite sometime. It’s worth just sitting, staring, and listening. I wish I’d remembered that champagne or thought about a picnic lunch. It’s the perfect spot for that.
After a while, we decided to make our way back up the hill. I cannot stress to you just how up “up the hill” seemed. My ego does not prevent me from admitting that we walked slowly and stopped more than once.
We only encountered about 15 people and one dog on our trip, but it was in the middle of the week. My guess is this very popular hole made famous, is much more crowded on the weekends or after a good rain. Henri and I will definitely go back in the fall when the leaves change, if not sooner, and again in the winter when the ice is forming. Ok. Maybe we won’t actually go in the winter. Someone send me pictures.