Southern Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

American water-willow.
American water-willow (Justicia americana). Photo by T.G. Barnes, University of Kentucky.

American bladdernut.
American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia). Photo by Edward Chester, University of Tennessee Herbarium.

woodland blue phlox.
Woodland blue phlox (Phlox divaricata). Photo by Wayne Owen, U.S. Forest Service.

North Sylamore Creek Trail

Forest: Ozark-St. Francis National Forest

District: Sylamore Ranger District

Description: Running both up and down stream from the Blanchard Caverns Recreation Area, the trail along North Sylamore Creek provides a delightful location for observing riparian wildflowers. In the recreation area and in nearby floodplain areas mown fields provide a riparian forest edge habitat. South of the caverns, the trail runs along the north side of the stream, while north it changes from side to side at several locations. The stream flows toward the east southeast. As a result, enthusiasts can see the differences of sites with more or less sun in this deep Ozarkian valley. Inter-bedded sandstone and limestone provide a diverse substrate for the rich vegetation.

Viewing Information: North Sylamore Creek scours its bed in this area, making for some interesting wildflower viewing. In summers, parts of the creek resort to sub-gravel flow and one can walk directly down the streambed. Willows and shrubs line the stream as do a variety of summer wildflowers. The stream banks rise sharply and most of the time hikers will walk where Native Americans once tread and camped. Rock shelters provided a haven from winter's blasts and summer storms. The District even allows cavers to explore some of the districts more than 200 caves when endangered species like Indiana and gray bats are not threatened.

Safety First: Flash floods or seasonal flooding may block creek crossings and even road access on rare occasions for hours or days. Normally, flooding is not a problem but the stream infrequently rises quickly, especially after heavy rains.

Poisonous snakes are always a concern in much of the United States; the Sylamore District supports the cottonmouth, copperhead, and rattlesnakes. Cottonmouths are rarely found away from water, but they and copperhead occasionally lie in streams especially away from recreation areas where they tend to be chased away or worse by tourists. Most folks will have to seek out rattlesnakes to find one, but they do occur. Find them on rocky ledges, usually well away from roaded area. In summer, they gravitate toward moist sites like springs in the upland areas. Copperheads may be found at any time, almost anywhere on the district. None of these snakes tend to be aggressive but they will defend themselves if stepped on or threatened at close range. Just watch the ground as you walk and you should not have any problems.

The area of the creek is surrounded by high bluffs and occasionally with loose talus. Rock climbing and bouldering raise their own concerns most folks looking for wildflowers do not need to concern themselves with. But some sections of the trail run along bluffs, especially in its up stream sections. Keep your children under supervision. Talus is generally not a concern unless one goes climbing up steep slopes off of the trail. In that case, take precautions to not dislodge loose rocks especially if someone is following you down slope. The trail itself provides little risk along those lines.

Directions: From the towns of Mountain View and Fifty-six, proceed to the well signed vicinity of the Blanchard Caverns. This is generally northwest of Mountain View and about 1 mile east of the community of Fifty-six. Once you reach the side road north to Blanchard Caverns, go about three miles on this curvy road to a fork. To the right you will find the commercial cave entrance. To the left, proceed down the hill into the recreation area. At the base of the hill, the road will fork again. Right will take you to Blanchard Spring, another interesting place to find spring wildflowers. Left again will take you into the recreation area and campground where you'll find signs to the trail.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, Sylamore Ranger District.

Closest Town: Fifty-six, Arkansas.

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