Paradise Falls has been on my radar for several years. I'm a fan of the big, cascading waterfalls and deep blue pools and from the pictures I've seen, it sure seemed like a falls I was going to like.
In fact, we made an attempt to hike down to Paradise Falls a couple of years ago, but because there is no official trail here, the route became confusing and we ended up turning back.
So, this will be my attempt to help others find Paradise Falls. Because those that do find the falls will be greeted not just by Paradise Falls -- but by several smaller waterfalls, a cascading creek bed, and overall top-notch scenery.
The trail head is relatively easy to find. It is just off of Highway 21 South of Boxley. There is a very large parking are .8 miles south of the little community of Mossville (3.4 North or Edwards Junction). Pull into the U-shaped parking area. The trail takes off on the West side of the parking area and follows an old road trace that is easy to spot.
The trail starts off down an old roadway that is fairly well maintained and wide and makes for some really nice hiking. The trail dips down the hill a ways. There is another road trace that goes off to the right but stay STRAIGHT on the main road.
After maybe .25 miles (very rough estimate), the road comes to the bottom of the hill and turns pretty sharply left. Walk a short distance left and then leave the main road and turn RIGHT and head straight down the hill into the woods. Why would you leave the comfort of a nice walking trail and head into the thick woods without a trail? You're just going to have to trust this.
Leave the road, and find you way straight down the hill the best way you can. There is really nothing resembling a trail, and it's pretty woolly in places with sticker bushes -- and I wouldn't recommend this one in May-September.
After a relatively steep climb and at roughly .4 miles, you'll reach the bottom of the hill and there is a creek at the bottom of the hill. From here, there is a reasonably worn "trail" that follows the creek in both directions.
So, to make this as easy as possible, follow the road until it turns left, then turn right and bushwhack through the woods to the bottom of the hill, then follow the creek to the left to get to Paradise Falls. If you try to make it any harder than this you are likely to get lost.
Once you arrive at the creek, there is much to see. Depending on where you actually arrive at the creek, there is a small, unnamed waterfall #1 that is in this general area. We arrived slightly downstream from unnamed waterfall #1 and went upstream to check in out (the second photo in this blog post).
The "trail" continues then downstream the rest of the way -- and is honestly, more pleasant hiking than I expected given the ruggedness of the area. After a short distance, there was another waterfall, Unnamed Waterfall #2 on the main creek.
This falls was a really nice cascading waterfall with a lot going on. I'd say that even if this was the destination waterfall I wouldn't have been disappointed. It's a great little place that like every waterfall in this area flows into a deep, beautiful blue pool.
After some further hiking downstream, there are just more great views, cascades, and blue pools.
At 1 mile of hiking there is another drainage that comes in from the left. A few hundred yards up that drainage is a host of mossy rocks and Unnamed Waterfall #3.
The nice waterfall up this drainage is roughly 8 feet tall.
There is also a nice cascade area just above this waterfall.
Back on the main creek, once the trail crosses the side drainage it starts to become much tougher hiking. It's rockier, steeper, and a lot of the rocks are more unstable that they would appear. The trail also runs a little higher up on the bank than it had before.
The trail passes another cascades area and small waterfall before arriving at the top of Paradise Falls at 1.2 miles. There is even a signal tree above this last cascades area near the top of Paradise Falls.
Signal trees are believed to be a part of a Native American trail-marking system, and the area round Northwest Arkansas has one of the highest densities of these trees in the country. Signal trees were also established by early settlers -- and this one is more likely to fit that criteria as it appears to be younger than a Native American signal tree.
To get to the bottom of the falls, follow the "trail" to the left (heading downstream) and there are a series of ropes that help hikers get down (and back up!). As will all steep bluffs in the Ozarks, be VERY CAREFUL and don't go beyond your individual capacity as a fall could be fatal.
Hikers that make it to the bottom will get to see a spectacular 32 foot tall, cascading waterfall that pours off into a beautiful blue pool.
There is a rocky area at the bottom of the falls that is a great place to relax, enjoy a snack, and even take a quick nap in the sun while enjoying the splendor of the Ozarks.
After enjoying the area for awhile, including watching one of the resident bats come out for a light feeding, we headed back -- making sure to enjoy the cascades and pools along the way.
Distance: 2.4 miles round trip -- with all of the exploring, it felt like it was MUCH further than this
Difficulty: This is a difficult bushwhack with about 500 feet of elevation change, a fair amount of bushwhacking and a lot of unsteady ground to hike on.
Kid Friendly: No
Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots
Trail Guide: Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls book
Star rating: 5 of 5