Fiddlers Creek merges with West Fiddlers Creek and Pilot Creek in the valley north of Blowout Mountain. This area includes Rock Row and Fiddlers Rock. The put-in is located where NFR 274 crosses Fiddlers Creek. This road is also known as Blowout Mountain Road, and is the crossing for the Ouachita Trail.
The first mile is classic pool and drop as the stream flows southward over rugged bedrock formations. Narrow pools are followed by short ledgy rapids. Approximately 0.25 miles below the NFR 592 crossing is The Cutback(II+). This is the largest rapid on the reach and features a rocky, broken 4 to 5 foot ledge that is best run on river right. The Cutback begins a general separation between Fiddlers Creek and NFR 274.
Over the next mile and a half, Fiddlers Creek winds by rocky hillsides and through some tight brushy channels with small ledges, interspersed with narrow pools. The mile above the Hwy 88 access is characterized by short pools, rocky shoals, pastures and woodlands. The pool that ends at the Hwy 88 bridge is the longest on the creek.
From Hwy 88 it is 1 mile to the confluence with the Ouachita River, and 1.7 miles to the access below the Hwy 298 bridge at Sims.Summary: Fiddlers Creek is quite scenic, water quality is good, and the area around the put-in is great for hiking, rock climbing, and swimming during warmer weather. There are a number of convenient put-in and take-out locations. The upper end of the reach may hold adequate water for 24 to 48 hours during winter and early spring. An alternative to paddling the upper 3.8 miles of the reach is to put-in at the Hwy 88 access and paddle down into the Ouachita River. This last mile may hold adequate flows for 3 days after heavy rains. Takeout at Sims, Fulton's Branch, or Dragover.
To reach the put-in from Mt. Ida travel west on Hwy 270 and turn right (north) on Arkansas Hwy 298. Continue north to Sims. From Sims travel west on Hwy 88. After about a half mile you will cross Fiddlers Creek. Continue westward for 0.5 miles and turn right (north) on Blowout Mtn. Rd. (NFR 274). Continue traveling north until the road crosses over Fiddlers Creek.
The gauge information for the Ouachita River at Mt. Ida can be useful in determining water levels on Fiddlers Creek. These recommended levels are a guide only. The creek may have adequate water flow at a gauge reading as low as 4.0 ft. It is also quite possible for the creek to be below minimum with river gauge readings above 5.0 ft.
Note: Fiddlers Creek has many sharp rocks, including very abrasive bedrock outcroppings, that can damage plastic kayaks and canoes. Make sure that the water level is adequate for floating over the ledges and shoals without excessive contact with the rocks. If not, your boat may be damaged.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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