Saturday, April 23, 2011

Still much like it was

It was a wild place when I was a boy. Folks said an old hermit had lived up there in a cave. I never saw him but I thought about the man they called 'Old Red' and how it would be to live up that long, deep hollow where there was no evidence of civilization. No farming, no timber cutting, no cattle, just pristine Clifty Creek running cool under limestone bluffs , rippling and glinting over the rocky Ozark stream bottom.

It is still wild up there. Oh, there is a little more evidence of human activities - an occasional hiker, a lone person lugging a camera. But, the place still retains its essential character. It is a special setting. Looking westward from our lofty perch atop the bluff, your gaze follows the course of Clifty Creek up the hollow until it divides at the location of the natural bridge. Often we watch storms moving toward us down the length of Clifty hollow, anticipating the minutes remaining until the deluge breaks over us at the Bluffhouse.

Two things have happened which may keep Clifty Creek wild for years to come. First, the L-A-D Foundation (that is Leo A. Drey) acquired a section of the hollow that includes the natural bridge (often called the Natural Arch). Later the Department of Conservation acquired an adjacent piece of land. Together, these public use properties total 486 acres.

Guests at Rock Eddy Bluff Farm often enjoy hiking the 2.5 mile hiking loop that will bring them to Natural Bridge. They can also choose to go and come via the same trail portion. The shorter section (one mile) perhaps covers more diverse terrain and lends itself to some ad lib hiking as you can drop down into the creek bed and follow it downstream to the natural bridge. The longer section (1.4 miles) maintains the ridge top for much of its length and traverses interesting Ozark woodlands before dropping into the hollow and crossing the creek well upstream of the natural bridge.(click on the map to enlarge)

A small parking lot is nestled in a cedar grove at the trail head on Maries Country Road 511 (Yes, that also brings you by our mailbox.)

Clifty hollow has been a constant feature in our lives here in the hills, so we can direct you to the clear pools, the big curving line of bluffs where ferns cling to the rocks. And, if you are interested, we can put you on to where you will find the cave where Old Red once lived.

The Ol' Hired Man at Rock Eddy

p.s. Thank you guests for these photographs


  1. One of our favorite places on earth.

  2. The final photograph shows a good definition of Clifty Creek from the bluff. The creek is outlined in shadow and where the shadow divides is the location of the Natural Bridge.


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Please enlighten me. The Hired Man