Tan Trough Creek, Izard County, Arkansas
The hillbilly crew Denny, Jim, and Rick over at Exploring Izard County are forever finding the unexpected in their Ozark explorations of Izard County. I'm always interested in their meanderings around Izard because my maternal grandmother was born there and most of her Cherokee relatives were settled in the rough, hilly area around the White River, which is part of the White River Hills. I'm from Fulton County myself, just north of Izard, so I know the region and did some exploring of my own as a teenager.
Denny and Rick -- I don't know where Jim was (out of pocket, I reckon) -- took some time recently to explore a fascinating, mysterious place called Tan Trough Creek, which runs just north of Calico Rock, Arkansas. Here's what Denny wrote about the creek:
Tan Trough Creek begins as a stream seeping from acres and acres of glade rock north of Calico Rock. The little stream gathers size as it follows a deepening hollow to plunge nearly 100 feet to a canyon floor below through a semi-cylinder of stone! The creek then flows through the most amazing canyon we've encountered in Izard County . . . possibly even the Ozarks . . . this part of them at least. It's unique and quite wonderful!Sounds like quite an adventure. I've got to see this place! But my upcoming Ozark trip this summer might not be the best of times -- too many ticks, probably, and too much heat and humidity.
For hundreds of yards, sheer bluffs of around 100 feet or more line each side of this creek. At one point, the tops of the bluffs on each side of the canyon are nearly within jumping distance of each other. As Rick and I searched for a way to get down to the creek bottom, we were forced to hike several hundred yards before finding a navigable way down. As we fought our way back up the creek through briars, saplings, and last year's ice-storm fall-out, we were rewarded with fantastic views of the bluffs above us as well as with discovering small waterfalls and caves in the faces of the bluffs.
Anyway, Denny has a bit more written about the canyon over at the EIC blog, along with three more photos and a ten-minute video that offers information about the creek and provides shots of the bluffs through some fairly heavy thicket.
From what I've read and seen, the place should probably be a state park. The description reminds me of Missouri's Grand Gulf State Park and leads me to wonder if Tan Trough Creek might not also be an ancient cave system similar to that one at Grand Gulf -- or like the collapsed cave with natural land bridge remaining at the nearby Calico Creek, which my family and I hiked around in with Denny and his family back in February 2008.
As mentioned above, I did some Izard exploring myself as a teenager. At 19, I spent my last summer living in the Ozarks when I worked on the surveying crew for my high school math teacher, Mr. Jim Scott. On days when we had no work, I'd hop on my ten-speed bicycle and pedal off on an adventure of discovery, several times on a 35-mile trip south into Izard County through some steep Ozark hills to Sylamore, enjoying the views but not the sweat and scorching sun.
I never discovered Tan Trough Creek, though, for I always continued southward, never turning off on the road toward Calico Rock whenever I headed down Sylamore way.
I missed out.