The Penhook Special Interest Area is a few miles north of Hector AR and encompasses Penhook Hollow – with its creeks, tall bluffs, and steep terrain creating a very scenic area. The hollow opens onto the Middle Fork of the Illinois Bayou River not very far upstream from where the Middle Fork joins the East Fork. The area was apparently considered for wilderness designation at one time. The main attraction is 41′ Penhook Falls but there are at least 8 other waterfalls and with the recent rains, I figured this would be a good time to go looking for them.
Tim’s book has good information on where to find them. There aren’t any trails to them (yet) but there is an old road that goes from the parking area up along the west side of the hollow and beyond that can be used as a starting point.
I headed up the road a ways before going down the slope into the creek. I didn’t see a big waterfall so I hopped further up the creek, from rock to rock, and came to an area where there were three small waterfalls close together and that clued me in where I was. I had come down to the creek a couple hundred yards above the main fall. Waterfalls #2 & 3 are about 30′ apart but I couldn’t get a decent shot of both at the same time.
I hopped downstream now where there are a lot of nice little cascades before the creek plunges over Penhook Falls.
It took about 20 minutes to work my way around the falls on the east side and back down to the creek before making my way back upstream to Penhook Falls, and a nice log to sit on while having lunch.
A little further downstream, another creek comes in from the west and less than 100 yards up that branch I found waterfall #5, and then just a little ways down the main creek is #6 and 7.
To get to #6 I had to lower myself down a pretty steep slope, hanging on to each tree to avoid sliding over a ledge onto whatever might be below. #7, just 50′ downstream, has even steeper terrain on the west side and I didn’t even attempt to get over there. I really needed to be on the east side for good pictures here and I figured I could go back up the slope to flatter terrain and then downstream a ways to get down to the creek but that was actually the beginning of a long and tall bluff so I never did get back to the creek. I did find waterfall #8 here but could see it only from above.
Farther west up one of the side streams there is a waterfall that even taller than Penhook so that’s on the agenda for the next trip, along with pictures of #6, 7, and 8 from the east side.