In all my years of going down to the Buffalo River area, I've never met anyone who has been to Magnolia Falls, or for that matter, ever heard of anyone even mention this falls. And let me just say that this may be the best kept secret in the Buffalo River area.
The falls is in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness and has very easy vehicle access to the trail head, a well-maintained trail that is relatively easy to follow.
To get to the trailhead, just turn west onto Forest Road 1462/County Road 6. This road is about 2.5 miles south of the Mossville Church on Hwy 21 south of Boxley. The road isn't marked, but it's a pretty significant gravel road and if you're following your odometer you'll know it when you see it. Once you turn west onto CR6, about .3 miles down the road is a pull-off area for parking (there is a sign on the left side of the road noting "Wilderness Access". Park here, and enter on the trailhead to your right.
The trail itself mostly follows an old jeep road. You'll pass a couple of campsites, then several trees that have fallen over the trail that you'll have to climb over/duck under to continue on your way. I was a bit concerned about the trail maintenance at this point, but now think they just left these in the way to prevent people driving jeeps down the trail. (Update 1/1/16: The trail is now in VERY good shape and many of the downed trees have been removed from the trail making for some really nice hiking in the area).
After a short stretch you'll see a trailhead register -- sign in here before continuing. You'll cross a creek bed, and then a place where the trail seems to split -- take the spur to the left.
Soon you'll pass by a stone wall that was built by early settlers in the area. Eventually that wall turns into some interesting rock formations that if you look closely, have more rocks on top of them as a continuence of the stone wall. It's an interesting stretch of trail.
The road descends a little, but not steeply, and then at about 1 mile the trail crosses another little creek bed. As soon as you cross the creek bed, the trail splits. The main trail continues on straight here (and if you follow it, it can eventually lead you down into the valley and back up to Woods Boys Falls). If your hope is to go to Magnolia Falls, you'll turn left here along the spur trail that follows the creek bed. Someone has nicely formed an arrow out of rocks on the ground to point you in that direction.
As you turn left on the spur trail, you'll follow the creek bed gently down. Shortly, the creek hits another larger creek - at this point, to your left will be Magnolia Falls. You can view it from above or scramble down into the valley for a lower-level view of it. To the right is Woods Boys Falls. It's a tough angle to photograph from up top, so I'll have to make a return trip this spring to get some of it from below.
The area around Magnolia Falls is very scenic beyond just the falls itself with some great bluffs and rock features. There was quite a fair amount of water flowing this day in spite of it not being terribly wet up to this point this winter. Plus, the cold and snow had created a lot of great ice features for our viewing.
If you venture around the top of the bluff above Woods Boys Falls you'll also get a great look into the Boen Gulf area and it's spectacular bluff lines -- especially in winter when the leaves are off the trees. There is a volunteer trail along here that is also easy to follow -- but be safe, it travels the bluff line and it's a sharp drop down in many places. If you go far enough (maybe another .25 miles) there will be a way to scramble down through the rocks to get to the base of the valley below.
This is just a great little area and we're so happy to have found it.
Distance: 2.1 miles roundtrip to Magnolia Falls -- but plan on spending some time and energy exporing around the area.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
Footwear: I always recommend hiking boots in winter weather conditions
Kids: Suitable for most kids, although be careful near some of the ledges
Trail Guide: This is covered in the Boen Gulf Access in Tim Ernst's Buffalo River Hiking Trails book, but the better guide here is Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls book.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5