It isn’t widely known, but there are a couple of nice waterfalls just north of Jessieville. Since I’m in Hot Springs, that’s less than an hour away. My buddy Cody Simpson joined me as we hiked seeking some nice scenery. This turned into a very enjoyable short trip with an interesting surprise toward the end!
After you park your car, the first waterfall is a piece of cake. The hike is probably less than 1 mile and you can follow old logging trails all the way there. It doesn’t get too much easier than that! This first one is simply called Forked Mountain Falls. It’s about 10′ tall and not overly impressive IMO. The water is a beautiful turquoise though and the mini-bluffline behind it is quite interesting! The big rock just looks a bit out of place. For this shot I blended 5 bracketed shots as HDR and then mixed in a 2 minute exposure using a 10 stop ND filter for the water.
The next waterfall, Twist Cascades, isn’t quite as easy to reach. First, you have to cross the river that creates Forked Mountain Falls. Then, you have to follow some vague directions and use GPS as there is no identifiable trail. It’s about 1.5 miles depending on the route you take. Cody and I decided to be brave (or stupid) and cut off much of the hike by going over the mountain between us and the falls. Personally, I like Twist Cascades much better than Forked Mountain Falls so it is worth the trek.
I must admit, I was blown away by how thoughtful mother nature can be. Check out the natural facilities provided along the way!
A little ways down from the tree toilet you come upon Twist Cascades. It is a stairstep cascade that feeds into a beautiful green-blue pool. The fallen log has been there a long time I believe.
A bit closer…
Close-up of a section of the falls…
A top-down view…
And now for my favorite photo of all. When taking pictures of waterfalls, you typically want to avoid sunlight at all costs. It doesn’t allow you to slow your shutter speed enough for a good capture and the sun creates hot spots on the water that make a good photo nearly impossible. So, I tried to do something totally different this time. I shot directly at the sun! I got low to give an interesting composition, cranked up my f-stop to get a sunstar, and bracketed about 7 shots to make sure I got the best overall exposure. Personally, I love the end result!
This time I also decided to grab some video footage. Check it out!
Last but not least, we found something WEIRD! We were headed back to my truck and about to cross back over Forked Mountain Falls when I spotted something odd in the water. It looked like a very thin but long spaghetti noodle… SWIMMING! I’ve since learned that this is a “Horsehair Worm.” They are larvae parasites first that usually live in insects. They leave their host though and survive on their own in the water when they grow larger. This one was probably 16 inches or so long. Crazy!