I spent four days at Blanchard Springs Recreation Area in Arkansas on a trip organized by a local Sierra Club group.
This is in the Ozark National Forest on the North Sylamore Creek near the point where it dumps into the White River. Hiking, camping, swimming, mountain biking, and fishing are some of the more popular activities and there’s also a cave to explore.
We left early Thursday morning and got down there in time to take the last 1.5 hour walking tour of Blanchard Springs Cavern. Very impressive. There’s also a 5 hour Wild Cave Tour that requires jump suits, hard hats, head lamps, and crawling but I guess we weren’t feeling that adventurous.
We then headced over to Blanchard Springs itself to see the spring that formed the cavern springing from the side of a hill. Lots of great scenery here.
This stream was dammed long ago to form Mirror Lake and provide power for a mill – part of it still standing. It then runs down into North Sylamore Creek.
Friday, we hiked from Blanchard Springs to the Gunner Pool area. Saturday we hiked from the east trailhead near the town of Allison back to Blanchard Springs. One of the highlights was a family of armadillos.
It rained off and on for about 30 minutes late Saturday afternoon, making the air even more humid. My wet clothes were still wet the next morning but it rained again for about 20 seconds anyway – boosting the humidity enough that there were clouds above us in the trees. We headed back home with a stop at Fantastic Caverns NE of Springfield. It was much less interesting than Blanchard Springs Cavern and cost twice as much so I think we were all a bit disappointed.
After a day or two of cleaning and drying clothes, tent, etc I will have to start thinking about the next trip.
How would you describe the hike from Gunner Pool to Allison? We are going to do a one-night trip soon and curious about hiking trail grades, water sources, and camping along the trail. Thanks!
It’s a nice area. There are some climbs and you’ll be near the creek several times for water. I’ve only day-hiked that trail and didn’t pay attention to the camping situation. You’d be going right through Blanchard Springs so that might be a good bet.