A Guide to Hiking the Ozarks

Hiking The Ozarks: Waterfalls

Amber Falls in the Ozark National Forest.
Amber Falls in the Ozark National Forest.

Hiking up to a waterfall is one of my favorite things to do. I love the moment when you start to hear the rush of water and you know that a beautiful vista could be just around the next bend!

This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you're planning to hike to a waterfall, you need to be ready to get wet. Depending on the length of the walk back, you might want to pack a spare pair of socks in case you get drenched. Hiking in wet socks is the pits. If you're hiking in chillier weather, pack a rain jacket with a hood to protect yourself from the spray.

The Ozark Trail is home to a few notable waterfalls. Abi Jackson recommends a neat place along the Current River called Klepzig Mill with swimming holes and falls. She also suggests checking out Rocky Falls for its beautiful waterfall and swimming holes. Rocky Falls is about 40 feet (12.2 meters) high, and what makes it really spectacular is the purpleish rock from an ancient volcano that graces Rocky Creek as it tumbles down the falls [source: Uhlenbrock]. You can also hike up to Mina Sauk Falls, Missouri's tallest waterfall. The view here is best after a good rainfall, when the falls are at their heaviest [source: Uhlenbrock].

For more amazing waterfalls, you can't go wrong with the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. Which one you visit really depends on how far you're looking to hike. If you want to get right to the view, check out High Bank Twin Falls just 1/4 mile from where you'd park your car. Haw Creek Falls and Triple Falls are also just a short hike from the trailhead. You can even see a couple of falls without hiking at all. Check out Natural Dam and Falling Water Falls right from your car or the adjacent picnic areas. If you're looking for a moderate to difficult hike, Eden Falls or Hemmed-In Hollow Falls are good options. Of course, the most breathtaking views are also the toughest to get to. The hike up to Richland Falls and Twin Falls isn't very long – less than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) – but the trail isn't very well marked, and the terrain is rough [source: Arkansas Dept of Park and Recreation].