Long Branch - Wayton to Murray (2+3.5 miles)

Long Branch, Arkansas, US


Wayton to Murray (2+3.5 miles)

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 267 fpm
Max Gradient 450 fpm


Photo of Greg Churan by Lance Jones taken 03/19/02

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Little Buffalo
virtual-45503 5.00 - 10.00 ft III-V 00h21m 1.275 ft (too low)

River Description

Note: The Steep banks, trees tend to clog the creek with wood from time to time, so keep look out.

This is a very small creek 2 miles long, plus the last 3.5 miles of the EFLB. Each mile of Long Branch drops 267 feet, but each mile also contains a shorter steeper gorge where the main action awaits. The put-in only drains 0.5 square miles of watershed, which doubles just before the upper gorge drops start. The lower gorge drains only 2.3 square miles. Gradient #s are for Long Branch only. Tight slots, fast slides, waterfalls, undercuts, deadfall. Highlights are the first and last sets of drops. Must run the last 3.5 miles on the East Fork Little Buffalo which will be at high water.

Put-in: Go North on Hwy 327 from Hwy 16 at Deer and head toward Wayton. This road takes you past the Alum Cove NFS recreation area. Continue for 2 miles North past the rec. area and park on the side of the road. Aim West down the through the woods aiming for the confluence of the top two forks. (Elevation 1800).  The map indicates the target parking spot.

Take-out: Reach the take-out by continuing North to the community of Wayton from the put-in. Turn left (West) on Newton CR 8500 at the Wayton Baptist Church. Go 2.3 miles and turn left (South) on Newon CR 8610. 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. At the bottom of the hill, there are a couple of houses on the right then a triangle intersection. To the left, Willis Park is beside the creek at the low-water bridge and the will probably have standing water in the field. Park at the community building next to the park at the intersection. Be sure to thank any locals and leave a donation for this facility. (Elevation 1065)
Alternate is to park on the river left on the road by accessing from Hwy 16 at Swain. See the East Fork Little Buffalo for description. Parking area likely will be underwater and very few wide spots are available are on the road, so parking is sparce.


The creek starts out very small and narrow with a 0.25+ mile long shoal, then a third fork enters from the left, you may have to carry to this point at low water or due to downed trees. Immediately below this fork is the first set of drops known as the waterpark. A slide into an auto-boof, a 10 foot waterfall, another slide with a double autoboof, finishing with a ramp to the right into a flume.

After these first bedrock drops, the creek enters boulder drops. The next horizon line is an interesting double drop named 'Duck and Cover'.

Lots more nice class III/IV for the next mile with some nice drops like "Baby Zwick's", as it resembles the move from Zwicks on the Green Narrows, and 'Switchback'. Haunt Hollow enters from river right to add a little more water before the meat of the lower gorge begins.

The bottom gorge offers very steep banks and 450+ ft/mile for a third mile. Big complex boulder drops with holes, pin potential and undercuts. The portages are worse! The lower gorge consists of back to back drops with small eddys scattered about.

Just around the corner from the pool below 'Freeride' is the East Fork Little Buffalo. Long Branch enters ~0.5 miles below 'Johnson's Falls' so get ready for 3.5 miles of big water through the meat of the EFLB at flood! This is class IV+ big water with juicy holes, swirlies and crosscurrents.

If you have the time and energy at the bottom, catch a quick run on Stepp Creek, which enters the EFLB at the takeout.




StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-05-22 13:32:20


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-0.3Put-in ParkingN/A
0.2The WaterparkIVWaterfall Photo
0.4Duck and CoverIV+Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.8Baby ZwicksIV
1.6Entrance to Lower Gorge5.0Hazard
1.7Particle Separator5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.8Long Branch SaloonIV+Waterfall Photo
1.8Freeride5.1Hazard Waterfall Photo
2.0EFLB Confluence

Rapid Descriptions

Put-in Parking (Class N/A, Mile -0.3)

Park along Hwy 327 about 1.8 miles north of Alum Cove Rec. Area.  Head downhill to the West to the creek.

The Waterpark (Class IV, Mile 0.2)

4th drop

4th drop
Photo of Scott Hanshaw by Lance Jones taken 03/19/02

The first horizon line is a steep fast slide dropping 12-15 ft with an autoboof into the small pool, followed shortly by a 8-10 ft waterfall (best run on far right), followed shortly by a 20-ft steep fast slide with a double autoboof into a small pool. Leave the pool far right in a narrow slide, ramp up on the right bank to avoid slamming the boulder on river left and ride the flume out the bottom.

Duck and Cover (Class IV+, Mile 0.4)

Duck and Cover

Duck and Cover
Photo of Brian Hughbanks by Lance Jones taken 03/19/02

After these first bedrock drops, the creek enters boulder drops. The next horizon line is an interesting double drop named 'Duck and Cover'. The first 4-ft drop is under an overhanging rock into a sticky boiling hole. The second part offers a narrow slot with pin/piton potential on river left or shallow slide down river right.

Baby Zwicks (Class IV, Mile 0.8)

Rapid with similar move as 'Zwicks' on the Green River Narrows in NC.  The drop is not as tall nor the hole as sticky.

Switchback (Class IV, Mile 1.0)

As the name indicates, a tight move requiring a switch of direction.

Entrance to Lower Gorge (Class 5.0, Mile 1.6)

Entrance slot feeds a couple of holes banked by a sieve. Two more defined drops immediately follow, both of which have potential for pins.  The first as the creek turns to the left, the second as the creek turns right. A decent eddy is available before the next rapid.

Particle Separator (Class 5.0, Mile 1.7)

Particle Separator

Particle Separator
Photo of Greg Churan by Ray Skinner taken 03/19/02

2017 flood removed the 'Separator Rock' from the middle ledge.  More of a straight forward run down the middle. Aim for the boof in the middle or left of the bottom ledge and avoid being pushed into the right side.  An undercut boulder looms at the bottom right below the bottom ledge.

The name has dual meaning from the First Descent run. First meaning, the rapid required a 3-ft boof to the left, over the broken ledge, aiming for a boat wide slot on river left side the 'separator' rock and over an 8-ft ledge at the bottom. Going right of the separator rock would take you into a nasty looking notch which is not recommended. An undercut boulder looms at the bottom right. Second meaning, it separated the boaters from the walkers on the first descent (The portage is high and tough on either bank.

Long Branch Saloon (Class IV+, Mile 1.8)

Long Branch Saloon

Long Branch Saloon
Photo of Mike O. by Lance Jones taken 03/19/02

This one directly below 'Particle Separator'.   An entry rapid drops back the the right to set up for the main drop. Majority of the flow funnels left toward a house size boulder. Enter the door to the left onto the tongue beside the pillow and get ready for a punch in the face from the hole at the bottom of the 10-ft drop. At high water this hole could become nasty as the creek is constricted between the large boulder on the left, the cliff on the right and water pouring straight down into the deep pool.

Exit from the pool leads to a small boof into a water slide flume.

Freeride (Class 5.1, Mile 1.8)


Photo of Greg Churan by Lance Jones taken 03/19/02

This rapid drops 40+ ft over 100 yards. A long complex rapid starting with 3 boulder slot moves followed by a 5-ft boof into a small eddy on the left. There is no stopping after this eddy until the pool at the bottom. From this eddy it drops over a cluttered 4-ft rock pile. Best line is middle to right, ride the bow high on the right bank as it turns back to the left. Negotiate a route through some trash rocks down the right side as the creek turns back to the left. Line up for an 8-ft boof onto a slide. Hit the boof right with left angle to avoid the right shelf rock and the hole and undercut wall on the left. Once on the slide, quick acceleration takes over toward the final 10+ foot waterfall. You want to be middle to left at the lip to avoid the large boulder on the bottom right side of the falls.

EFLB Confluence

Shift gears and get ready for some big water class IV-V downstream.

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