Glory Hole Falls

Ozark National Forest / Deer / Clarksville / Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

About Glory Hole Falls


Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2016-03-17
Date last visited: 2016-03-17

Waterfall Latitude: 35.82195
Waterfall Longitude: -93.39357

The Glory Hole Falls (also just called “Glory Hole”) was definitely was one of the more unique waterfalling experiences that we’ve ever had.

It involved a rare waterfall that actually fell 30ft through a hole into a deep grotto so it’s essentially a natural bridge waterfall.

Glory_Hole_185_03172016 - Glory Hole Falls (or also just Glory Hole)
Glory Hole Falls (or also just Glory Hole)

As you can see from the photo above, there was definitely a lot more than meets the eye with this experience though I won’t get into any connotations or insinuations with its name.

It had always been on our bucket list ever since we were first made aware of it a few years ago when we chanced upon it in the internet literature.

That said, the photos on there tended to be Photoshopped or under ideal conditions to make it appear far more ideal than the reality would be.

Nevertheless, we got to experience the Glory Hole Falls from not only its bottom, but we also got to experience the top of the hole where the stream disappeared into.

Glory_Hole_320_03172016 - Looking down over the top of the Glory Hole Falls as the creek disappears into the Glory Hole itself
Looking down over the top of the Glory Hole Falls as the creek disappears into the Glory Hole itself

Indeed, because of the uniqueness of this waterfall, we gave it a pretty high scenic rating score despite its modest size of around 30ft.

The Glory Hole Falls may be unique in its own right, but it wasn’t the only pothole-turned-natural-bridge waterfall we’ve encountered.

For example, we’ve also seen an example of this at Running Eagle Falls (where a waterfall fell onto another waterfall) in Glacier National Park and Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park in Australia among others.

Glory Hole Falls Trail Description – from the Trailhead to the Creek

We started our hike to the Glory Hole Falls from its relatively obscure trailhead right off the Hwy 21/16 (see directions below).

Glory_Hole_012_03172016 - The trail to the Glory Hole flanked by thin trees yet to grow out their leaves in the Spring
The trail to the Glory Hole flanked by thin trees yet to grow out their leaves in the Spring

There happened to be a sign at the start of the trail that said “Glory Hole” with an arrow pointing left, which gave us the confidence that we were in the right place.

From the highway, we followed what appeared to be a wide jeep trail or 4wd road flanked by tall thin trees.

Since our visit had followed around a week of rain, there were still some deep puddles flooding sections of the trail.

Fortunately for us, we were able to go around these wet and muddy spots as there were established trails of use to dodge them.

Glory_Hole_020_03172016 - Julie and Tahia avoiding some of the deep muddy puddles which thankfully had detours to go around them en route to the Glory Hole Falls
Julie and Tahia avoiding some of the deep muddy puddles which thankfully had detours to go around them en route to the Glory Hole Falls

After a few minutes of gradual downhill walking, we reached a fork where the trail veered to the right and considerably narrowed a bit more.

The trail on the left was a continuation of the jeep trail though we knew not where it went.

In fact, we noticed one person who drove his high-clearance truck all the way to this “false path” to perhaps shorten the hike or something.

Anyways, as the trail narrowed and curved to our right, it then got to a steeper descent.

Glory_Hole_022_03172016 - Julie and Tahia keeping right at this trail junction to continue heading towards the Glory Hole Falls. We weren't sure where the left fork went
Julie and Tahia keeping right at this trail junction to continue heading towards the Glory Hole Falls. We weren’t sure where the left fork went

We knew that on the return hike, this would probably cause us to sweat a bit.

Anyhow, we encountered many people going in the other direction along this section of the trail, which attested to its popularity.

I guess these folks were already leaving well before we showed up pretty early in the morning so they were probably early risers.

As the descending part of the trail veered to the left, it crossed a creek, which turned out to be the very creek that would ultimately feed the Glory Hole Falls further downstream.

Glory_Hole_029_03172016 - Julie and Tahia hiking on the popular trail descending towards the Glory Hole Falls
Julie and Tahia hiking on the popular trail descending towards the Glory Hole Falls

However, we heard the sounds of falling water, and it turned out that we started to notice some trails of use branching to our left away from the main trail to get closer to the creek.

Glory Hole Falls Trail Description – exploring cascades and the top of the Glory Hole

The first of these branches led to an attractive cascade and smaller grotto that was kind of a precursor to the Glory Hole Falls that we’d see later.

It was easy to linger around here for a bit (especially since we were alone here), but we knew there was more to see later on so we quickly backtracked to the main trail and kept going.

Moments later heading back downstream, there was another spur trail to our left, and this went to yet another small cascade on the same stream.

Glory_Hole_043_03172016 - Some of the side trails led us to some interesting small waterfalls further upstream from the Glory Hole Falls
Some of the side trails led us to some interesting small waterfalls further upstream from the Glory Hole Falls

The second cascade was not as pretty as the first so we didn’t linger there.

There was a use-trail that kept going downstream alongside the creek as well as the main trail itself, and they eventually converged at the top of the Glory Hole.

When we looked upstream from the creek, we saw there were a few more attractive cascades in succession.

However, it was really the Glory Hole that got all the attention as hikers just arriving or just leaving would check this spot out.

Glory_Hole_065_03172016 - Looking upstream at more successions of cascades on the creek eventually feeding the Glory Hole Falls
Looking upstream at more successions of cascades on the creek eventually feeding the Glory Hole Falls

It took us around 45 minutes to get to this point as the trail was about a mile in length.

In order to get right up to the brink of the hole, I had to scramble onto a ledge with a couple of large boulders.

This was not a trivial scramble as some agility was necessary due to the huge step to take down to and up from the ledge.

That said, once I was on the ledge, I was then able to carefully walk closer to the brink.

Glory_Hole_068_03172016 - Looking down at the context of the top of the Glory Hole Falls, where you can see from the sloping funnel-like shape of the hole that it was real easy to fall in!
Looking down at the context of the top of the Glory Hole Falls, where you can see from the sloping funnel-like shape of the hole that it was real easy to fall in!

I had to be very careful not to get too close because the surface around the hole was worn smooth by the water so it was very slippery.

I was very cognizant that people have fallen through the hole before so I made sure to stay away from the wet spots and not tempt fate.

As a result of this risk averse stance, it was difficult to look all the way through the hole to its bottom.

Glory Hole Falls Trail Description – the Bottom of the Glory Hole

After having our fill of the top of the Glory Hole, we then continued along the main trail.

Glory_Hole_081_03172016 - Julie and Tahia approaching the grotto containing the Glory Hole Falls
Julie and Tahia approaching the grotto containing the Glory Hole Falls

It went away from the Glory Hole Falls towards another small creek crossing before descending back towards the main creek.

At the creek level, we then followed the trail briefly upstream towards the large grotto through which the Glory Hole Falls fell.

This was where the majority of the hikers spent most of their time so it was difficult to take photos without other people in them despite the amount of space beneath the ledge causing the grotto.

While around the waterfall and hole, we were able to walk completely around the falls.

Glory_Hole_215_03172016 - Another look at the Glory Hole and its waterfall seemingly lighting up the grotto beneath it
Another look at the Glory Hole and its waterfall seemingly lighting up the grotto beneath it

When we had our fill of the Glory Hole Falls, we returned back the way we came.

According to my GPS logs, we had hiked for a grand total of 2 miles round trip, and we spent about 2.5 hours away from the car.

Indeed, most of our time here was spent around the falls and not as much time on the hike itself.

Photographing the Glory Hole Falls

Even though the Glory Hole Falls was clearly very popular, we did have a few moments of having the waterfall to ourselves before the next wave of visitors showed up.

Glory_Hole_105_03172016 - Context of the Glory Hole Falls and the grotto that it fell within as shot in long exposure under overcast skies
Context of the Glory Hole Falls and the grotto that it fell within as shot in long exposure under overcast skies

So we just had to be patient or opportunistic (whichever came first) to get our Nature shots.

As for techniques to photograph the falls, we’ve heard conflicting advise about it.

On the one hand, it would be nice to show up in the late afternoon where the rays of the sun should more or less reflect and light up the grotto.

That would create that warm effect in those internet photos that drew us to the Glory Hole Falls in the first place.

Glory_Hole_205_03172016 - Checking out the Glory Hole Falls from a different angle within its deep alcove
Checking out the Glory Hole Falls from a different angle within its deep alcove

On the other hand, if it was cloudy (like it was during our visit), we were able to get even lighting so the contrast between the shady grotto and the area outside the grotto wasn’t so great that it would result in photos that were overly dark or blown out.

Regarding the waterflow, it gave the appearance that there was a ray of light shining piercing through the darkness of the grotto (perhaps having something to do with its monicker “Glory Hole”).

That said, we were also well aware of a more devious meaning or connotation behind the name of the falls.

We’ll leave it up to you to figure out what we’re talking about.

Glory_Hole_279_03172016 - Full contextual look at the Glory Hole Falls and its grotto
Full contextual look at the Glory Hole Falls and its grotto

In any case, it was probably wise to bring a tripod to get creative with taking photos of this waterfall, but I regrettably didn’t bother to do it and I’m kicking myself for it.

Authorities

Glory Hole Falls resides in the Ozark National Forest near Clarksville in Newton County, Arkansas. It is administered by the US Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Glory_Hole_007_03172016 - Looking back towards the far end of the pullout where we parked along the Hwy 16 for the Glory Hole Falls Trail
Glory_Hole_010_03172016 - We knew we were in the right place when we saw this sign for the Glory Hole
Glory_Hole_014_03172016 - At first, the Glory Hole Falls Trail gradually descended along a gentle jeep trail flanked by thin trees
Glory_Hole_015_03172016 - During our hike to the Glory Hole Falls, there were still a few flooded spots from all the rains of the previous week. Luckily, there were alternate trails going around these spots
Glory_Hole_027_03172016 - After passing by an unmarked fork or junction (at least when we did the hike), the trail to the Glory Hole then veered to our right as it started to descend
Glory_Hole_033_03172016 - Here was a short stream crossing, where I believe this stream was partially (or mostly) responsible for the water going into the Glory Hole further downstream
Glory_Hole_035_03172016 - Not long after the creek crossing, we noticed some trails of use going left towards the creek where there were a few small cascades upstream from the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_040_03172016 - This was the first small cascade upstream from the Glory Hole Falls that we saw away from the main trail
Glory_Hole_053_03172016 - This series of streaks was like the second small cascade upstream from the Glory Hole Falls that encountered away from the main trail
Glory_Hole_055_03172016 - Continuing on the main trail going downhill towards the Glory Hole Falls after having explored some of the side cascades upstream from the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_066_03172016 - Continuing on the main trail to the Glory Hole, the trail then descended right around the top of the Glory Hole itself
Glory_Hole_350_03172016 - Looking down over the top of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_359_03172016 - Julie and Tahia looking down at the Glory Hole
Glory_Hole_342_03172016 - This gentleman scrambled down to the ledge and went as close to the Glory Hole as he was willing to risk
Glory_Hole_306_03172016 - This was what it looked like when I made the scramble to the ledge then got up to the top of the Glory Hole
Glory_Hole_309_03172016 - Broad look at the Glory Hole Falls disappearing into the Glory Hole itself
Glory_Hole_312_03172016 - Looking alongside the cliffs holding up the ledge and grotto making the Glory Hole possible
Glory_Hole_313_03172016 - Looking alongside the cliffs in the opposite direction from atop the ledge by the top of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_325_03172016 - Sideways look into the top of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_327_03172016 - Vertical view of the top of the Glory Hole Falls disappearing into its hole
Glory_Hole_074_03172016 - Julie and Tahia continuing their descent from the top of the Glory Hole Falls to the bottom of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_076_03172016 - Julie and Tahia hiking towards a different side creek as the trail went away from the Glory Hole Falls before returning back upstream towards it
Glory_Hole_077_03172016 - Julie and Tahia continuing along the main trail to get down to the bottom of the Glory Hole
Glory_Hole_294_03172016 - We noticed this attractive cascade on the way down to the bottom en route to the Glory Hole Falls base
Glory_Hole_082_03172016 - Approaching the grotto at the bottom of the Glory Hole
Glory_Hole_088_03172016 - Checking out the bottom of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_098_03172016 - Trying my hand at doing a long exposure of the Glory Hole Falls without a tripod
Glory_Hole_110_03172016 - Looking up at the context of the Glory Hole Falls with some side cascade spilling over a different part of its ledge
Glory_Hole_113_03172016 - Another look at the front of the Glory Hole Falls in long exposure
Glory_Hole_117_03172016 - Looking up at what appeared to be light in the hole producing the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_125_03172016 - There were lots of people enjoying themselves around the Glory Hole
Glory_Hole_126_03172016 - Another look at the bottom of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_128_03172016 - Contextual look at the Glory Hole Falls and the edge of the ledge above it
Glory_Hole_150_03172016 - Julie and Tahia exploring around the bottom of the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_164_03172016 - Tahia was occupying herself climbing rocks around and within the grotto beneath the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_179_03172016 - Another one of my attempts at taking a long exposure photo of the Glory Hole Falls in context with the edge of its grotto above
Glory_Hole_207_03172016 - Checking out the bottom of the Glory Hole Falls from a different direction
Glory_Hole_211_03172016 - Yet another look back at the bottom of the Glory Hole Falls in long exposure
Glory_Hole_217_03172016 - I did a little more exploring of the edges of the alcove beneath the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_231_03172016 - Continuing my exploration of the cliffs and surrounding area around the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_275_03172016 - Last look at the bottom of the Glory Hole as the next wave of people started showing up
Glory_Hole_288_03172016 - This was the view looked downstream from the Glory Hole Falls as we were about to make our way back up
Glory_Hole_296_03172016 - This partial view of the grotto containing the Glory Hole perhaps best conveys its context
Glory_Hole_361_03172016 - Julie and Tahia making their way back uphill from the Glory Hole Falls
Glory_Hole_362_03172016 - As expected, the uphill climb from the Glory Hole Falls was slightly more difficult than on the way down so Tahia wasn't up for leading the pack anymore
Glory_Hole_364_03172016 - On the return hike from the Glory Hole Falls, we noticed someone in a high-clearance truck parked where the fork was
Glory_Hole_367_03172016 - We noticed this really strange bubbly thing on the Glory Hole Falls Trail, but we didn't know what it was
Glory_Hole_371_03172016 - This fellow brought a tripod on the Glory Hole Falls hike.  I was kicking myself for leaving ours in the car
Glory_Hole_377_03172016 - Finally back at the car to end our Glory Hole Falls hike as we were continuing our long road trip into Oklahoma

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


Since we visited the Glory Hole Falls from Clarksville, we’ll describe how we managed to make our drive from there.

I’m sure there are other ways to get there, including from the north near Kingston and the east near Deer, but we’re most familiar with the approach we took from Clarksville so that will be our focus.

Glory_Hole_005_03172016 - The parking situation along the Hwy 16 at the Glory Hole Falls Trailhead
The parking situation along the Hwy 16 at the Glory Hole Falls Trailhead

So we drove on the Hwy 64 (Main St) in the western end of Clarksville and followed it eastwards until we turned left onto Hwy 164 at the eastern end of town.

Not long thereafter, we kept left where it became Hwy 21 (leaving Hwy 164), and we followed this road for about 28 miles to its junction with Hwy 16.

We turned right at this junction where Hwy 16 and Hwy 21 merged, and we continued down this merged road for another 6 miles or so.

That was when we saw a bunch of parked cars off the embankment of the highway to our right.

Glory_Hole_374_03172016 - This look back towards the far end of the large pullout area around the Glory Hole Falls Trailhead gives you an idea of how steep the embankment can be, which can be a real issue for low clearance vehicles
This look back towards the far end of the large pullout area around the Glory Hole Falls Trailhead gives you an idea of how steep the embankment can be, which can be a real issue for low clearance vehicles

Even though there were a bunch of cars here, the trailhead wasn’t obviously signed until we noticed on the jeep trail (that we were supposed to walk on) that there was a white sign for “Glory Hole.”

There was also a seemingly abandoned ranch with a “No Parking” sign at its gate right across the road, which kind of served as a landmark letting us know that we were indeed in the right place.

Overall, this drive took us 45 minutes or so.

Note that the Hwy 21 kept going past this trailhead for another 25 miles to the north before reaching the charming little village of Kingston.

Glory_Hole_008_03172016 - Looking across the Hwy 16 from the Glory Hole Trailhead towards this farm with a no parking sign in front of its gate
Looking across the Hwy 16 from the Glory Hole Trailhead towards this farm with a no parking sign in front of its gate

To give you some context, Clarksville, Arkansas was 103 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, 239 miles (3.5 hours drive) east of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and 335 miles (5 hours drive) northeast of Dallas, Texas.

360 degree sweep in front of the alcove containing Glory Hole


Checking out Glory Hole from an angle at a distance before approaching the falls from right beneath it almost going completely around it


At the top of Glory Hole checking out the hole from one side, then navigating through the rocks to get to the lip of the dropoff checking out the downstream view before finally getting up to the hole to try to peer into it with outstretched arms


At the very top of the scramble to top of Glory Hole checking out the hole itself before checking out the surrounding scenery

Tagged with: ozark national forest, ozarks, deer, clarksville, fayetteville, arkansas, waterfall, newton county, natural arch,



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls
Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.