Big Devil's Fork, Arkansas, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV(V) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||180 fpm|
|Max Gradient||220 fpm|
|Richland Creek near Witts Spring, AR|
|usgs-07055875||5.00 - 7.00 ft||III-IV(V)||00h35m||1.83 ft (too low)|
Note: The combination of Steep banks and lots of deadfalls tend to clog the creek with wood from time to time, so keep look out. A popular option is to run Richland Creek and hike up the trail on creek right to Twin Devil's Falls.
This is a very small creek. Putin is barely enough to float a boat, but several tributaries quickly converge. Tight slots, fast slides, waterfalls, undercuts. Highlight is Twin Devil's Falls. The runout on the last 2 miles of Richland Creek will be at high water.
Big Devil's Creek is 2.75 miles to Richland and then 2 miles to the Campground access. Average and maximum gradients are for put-in to the Richland confluence.
Put-in: Head North on Richland Creek Road (NFS 5080) from Richland Creek Campground and head up the mountain to Icelado Gap. This will be at the bottom of the first steep downhill is encountered. There is an intersection and a house to the South. Follow the NFS Road 5082 south past the House to Campbell Cemetery. Carry 0.25 miles down to the creek.
Take-out: Continuing East on Hwy 16 from Ben Hur for 1.5 miles and turn onto Upper Falling Water Road and follow to NFS Richland Creek Campground. This road will parallel Falling Water Creek most of the way. This can also be reached by taking Falling Water Road farther East off Hwy 16.
This run begins as a creek so tiny that you will think you have made a mistake, but quickly builds in intensity. Lots of ledge drops and slides and several undercuts. The "Sphinkter" is visually impressive. Remember that a deep undercut lurks under the river right wall! Be sure to run the right side of the first 12-ft waterfall (This one is named Don Hamilton Falls in Tim Ernst Arkansas Waterfalls book.) After this, some tight boulder jumbles lead to the entrance to the Twin Falls, the highlight of the trip. Depending on water level, you may either run the Big Devil's side, or access and run the Long Devil's side via a short trail. Be prepared for a "big water" creek run through some of Richland's most difficult rapids after the junction (IV+/V at these levels). All rapids have been run, although the boulder jumble just below the first waterfall is marginal for most water levels.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Drainage: ~1 square mile||N/A|
|2.5||Twin Devil's Falls||IV|
Just downstream of the listed put-in coordinates (at the juncture of two streams), drainage area is ~1 square mile (as calculated by USGS StreamStats 4.2.0 software).
Just prior to merging with Long Devil's Fork, drainage has risen to ~3.8 square miles.
Long Devil's Fork at that point has drainage of ~5.11 square miles, for a combined drainage of ~8.9 square miles. Not far downstream, you'll enter Richland Creek, and the combined drainage after the confluence will be ~41.6 square miles (obviously meaning a huge jump in volume in that run).
Creek narrows and snakes back and forth to a final 4-foot drop with a severely undercut right bluff wall. There is a cave that goes at least 20-ft back under the bluff.
12+ foot falls with a rock at the bottom on the river left half of the pool. A cluttered rock jumble immediately follows.
Visual impressive spot as Big Devils Fork and Long Devils Fork plunge off twin waterfalls to join in the pool below. Make sure there is enough water to get a launch off the lip as the shelf rock at the bottom extends out to the curtain.
Devil's Fork enters Richland Creek. Be prepared for the meat of Richland with a healthy flow.