Little Buffalo, East Fork - Deer to Murray (7.3 miles)

Little Buffalo, East Fork, Arkansas, US


Deer to Murray (7.3 miles)

Usual Difficulty III-IV(V+) (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 60 fpm
Max Gradient 90 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Little Buffalo
virtual-45503 4.00 - 8.00 ft III-IV(V+) 00h36m ~ 1.275 ft (too low)

River Description

Note: The combination of Steep banks and lots of dead red oak trees (thanks to the borer beetle infestation) tend to clog the creek with wood from time to time, so keep look out.  Currently has trees at the end of the 2nd (Obliterator) and 3rd (Swinging Bridge) gorges!

Put-in: Located at confluence of the East Fork and Barberry Creek.(elevation 1490) From Hwy 16 at Deer. Go North on County Road 8872 for 2.7 miles to the end of the main road. Ask for permission to park at the last house overlooking a large pond and carry/drag down the old road 1 mile to the creek.

Take-out: At Murray either at low-water bridge below confluence with Stepp Creek (Elevation 1065) or on river left at low-water bridge below confluence with Thomas Creek (Elevation 1030). 3-options:

Option 1, Go West on Hwy 16 to Swain and turn North on County Road 8920, go 3.1 miles and take the right fork on County Road 8642. This road will descend the mountain to the low-water bridge at Murray. Park along the road/creek as you will likely not be able to ford the creek to the park/community building if the creek is running.

Option 2, Go North on Newton County Road 8876 from Hwy 16 at Deer and head to Wayton. This road takes you past the Alum Cove recreation area. Turn left (West) on Newton County Road 8500 at the Wayton Baptist Church. Go 2.3 miles and turn left (South) on Newton County Road 8541(Snow cemetery is on the right). Continue ~2.5 miles down the mountain to the community of Murray. Be sure to check out the scenery on the way down. Especially the tall waterfall above the first small creek crossing. At the bottom of the hill, there are a couple of houses on the right then a triangle intersection. The creek is a couple hundred yards to the left. Park at the community building next to the intersection. Be sure to thank any locals and leave a donation for this facility.

Option 3, Access from Hwy 21 just North of the Hwy 16 intersection and turn right (East) on Newton County Road 8050 (Shiloh Road).  Follow for 4.5 miles and turn right on Newton County Road 8125 down to just below the confluence of Thomas Creek and The EFLB. This adds an additional 1.2 miles of slow class I/II. There may be a barb-wire fence just below the upper take-out for Options 1 or 2, so be advised if using Option 3.

If the water is high (2+ inches of rain) you might check out Sandy Springs Hollow (aka Mystery Creek) or Barberry Creek. These add ~ 2 miles to the top of the main run with some good Class III/V drops and some waterfalls. The EFLB will be big and flooded if these are running.


Run starts off with some brushy class II+ but quickly picks up volume as several small drainages pour in. Some nice waves and holes to play on.  About 2 to 2.5 miles in, look for the banks to steepen and the river appears blocked by some large boulders. There is a small cascade on river left as it falls over and through the steep limestone bank just above a nice eddy on river left for the scout/portage on river left. This is Johnson's Falls, the water funnels into a 2.5-ft wide notch between the wall on the left and an undercut boulder on the right while making a 90-degree turn and droping several feet. This drop has been run with varying degrees of success.

Below here, the class III/IV boulder gardens start and continue until the take-out in option 1 and 2 above. Watch out for the 'Obliterator Hole' around mile 5. There is a ATV trail on river right from here down to the first house on the creek, in case you run into trouble with the holes. The final drops are just below this house. There is an old 'swinging bridge' above these drops for added interest.


See more info on the Ozark Whitewater Page for EFLB.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-04-03 17:59:35


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.7Johnson's Falls5.0Portage Hazard
2.9Johnson's Falls GorgeIII+
4.8Obliterator GorgeIV
5.7Low-water slab crossingII+Access
5.9Swinging Bridge GorgeIV
7.0First Low-Water crossing Takeout

Rapid Descriptions

Confluence of Upper East Fork and Barberry Creek. Access via ATV trail at the end of Heydenrich road in Deer.

Half-Moon (Class III, Mile 1.5)

Curved ledge with some nice surfing above and below. Watch for the stout hole at the bottom at higher flows.

Johnson's Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 2.7)

A bedrock ledge with a large boulder sitting in the middle. At most levels, the name 'Johnson's Squeeze' is more appropriate as all of the water funnels between the left wall and the boulder through a 2.5-ft wide flume with a sharp turn.
Hazards include pinning by wedging one end of the boat on the left wall as the other end wedges under the boulder, cuts from the sharp edges on the left wall and shallow bedrock, hard hits from the boulder.
At very high water levels, water pours over the ledge on the right side of the boulder for a true waterfall drop.
Portage on the left at water level at most levels.

Johnson's Falls Gorge (Class III+, Mile 2.9)

A mile of bouldery rapids more technical than those upstream. The walls become more vertical and close in on the river. The rapids open up a bit at the Long Branch confluence to give a short break before the lower gorges.

Obliterator Gorge (Class IV, Mile 4.8)

Large boulders dominate the streambed as the water pours through. There are five distinct drops with some action inbetween. The first ledge is the 'Obliterator' and it has an appetite for boaters. An ATV trail runs along the right side.

Low-water slab crossing (Class II+, Mile 5.7)
Private drive crossing for house on the left. Can be used as an emergency exit on the right to get out to the county road. Signals the final onslaught of rapids are just around the corner.

Swinging Bridge Gorge (Class IV, Mile 5.9)

Similar to the 'Obliterator Gorge' as the large boulders funnel the water into powerful hydraulics over 5 main drops with some action inbetween. Don't let the vintage bridge overhead distract your attention.

First Low-Water crossing
First of two county road crossings at Murray. Park on river left in the pull-out area or on river right at Willis Park or the community center depending on how you came down the hill. Right heads upto Wayton, Left heads up to Hwy 16 at Swain.

Alternate take-out is 1.2 miles downstream at the next crossing which exits river left up to Hwy 21 at Mossville.

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