Fern Falls is a quick hike just off of Highway 7 south of Jasper. There is not an official trail here, but the trail to it generally follows some old road traces and thus tends to be fairly easy to follow.
The hike is a bit of a mess after a lot of trees and branches fell during the 2009 ice storm, but we found our way without any problem and got to view a nice waterfall as our reward when we made this hike in April.
Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead begins 11.4 miles south of the Jasper square on Highway 7. At 11.4 miles, there is a “Historic Highway 7″ sign on the west side of the highway.
There is no official parking area here, but if you can pull off the side of the highway here and find a place to park, that’s the spot.
The trail begins just behind the sign.
Hiking to the Falls
The trail starts off along an old road and heads down the hill a bit. It’s a fairly well-defined road, so it’s easy enough to follow.
Queen Wilhelmina is a wonderful state park that sits on top of Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest mountain in the Ouachita National Forest.
The Ouachita Trail, a 223-mile hiking trail that runs from LeFlore County, Oklahoma, to Pulaski County, Arkansas, runs through the middle of the park.
There also are a couple of short trails in the park. My favorite is the Lovers Leap Trail. It’s a cool wooded 1-mile loop trail at the east end of the park. The trail has some climbing, but it is not very difficult with only about a 250-foot net elevation change.
The western part of the Caney Creek Trail is a wonderfully scenic hike through the Ouachita National Forests’s Caney Creek Wilderness. It is a hike of 11.4 miles (5.7 miles each way) and has 22 wet crossings (11 miles each way), but it is well worth the effort.
The Caney Creek Trail runs 9 miles from west to east, mostly following Caney Creek. You can use of the eastern part of the trail to make a 9.4-mile loop hike with the Buckeye Trail. (See this post.)
This hike is an out-and-back one that just covers the western 5.7 miles of the Caney Creek Trail. It goes from the west trailhead to the Buckeye Trail junction.