Inspired by last weekend’s waterfall quest in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness, today’s adventure involved finding a couple waterfalls in the Poteau Mountain Wilderness a bit south of Fort Smith. It was my first visit there and the targets were Slate Falls and Belle Starr Falls.
During the long, long drive on Poteau Mountain Road I saw a road runner (the bird, not the car) but it got into the tall grass before I could take a picture. There are several places where one may stop to behold the view to the south, and I did just that. The road was pretty bad in places and I think the typical car would not make it far.
Slate Falls was about 2 miles in and easy enough to locate – there is an old road that takes you across the top of the drainage and then you bushwhack down a sometimes steep and treacherous slope. There was no water flowing so today it was more like Slate Ledge. The drop here is reported to be about 50 feet and there is another 20 foot fall about 50 yards up the drainage. I couldn’t get in a position to get the whole thing in the frame so I’m probably not going to gain fame or fortune for my waterfall photography.
I intended to make my way east along a bit of a bench at the bottom of Slate Falls over to the drainage above Belle Starr Falls and approach it from the north but the bench wasn’t as flat as I hoped and was basically a boulder field covered with leaves and other forest debris so you couldn’t really tell what you were about to step on. Throw in a lot of briars and poison ivy and I concluded it was a bad idea.
I went back up to the top of the hill and headed east along the old road until it stopped and then bushwhacked the rest of the way. I’m pretty sure I got to the right drainage but was probably 400 or 500 feet above (north of) the falls and couldn’t find a way down through this bluff.Even if I did, the map suggested there were two more like it further down. The little voice inside my head said it was time to turn around and head back the way I came in. The usual route to Belle Starr Falls is to follow a drainage down from the south and I guess I’ll have to try that next time.