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Cadron Creek

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Each spring dozens and dozens of canoeists load up their gear and head for canoe and camping trips on north Arkansas's famed Buffalo River. Many coming from central and southern parts of the state drive up U.S. 65 north of Conway and never realize that they pass right over another one of the best canoe trips in Arkansas - Cadron Creek.

Cadron Creek begins way up in Cleburne County, nearly within the city limits of Heber Springs. It flows in a westerly direction, is joined by its North Fork near Quitman, then continues on a southwesterly course toward its eventual destination--the Arkansas River. Along the way the stream passes by things most might expect--fields and occasional farm houses--and, for many, some startling surprises--rapids, bluffs, and canyon-like surroundings.

SECTION DESCRIBED: Source to Arkansas River, a distance of about 59 miles.

Characteristics

The Cadron doesn't receive much canoeing use above the Ark.124 bridge west of Quitman, although the North Fork can be floated downstream from Gravesville. The first major float trip run begins at the Ark.124 crossing and goes down to a county bridge--sometimes called the "Iron Bridge"--northeast of Guy. The float is about 4.5 miles long with class I rapids. Incidentally, history buffs might enjoy knowing that the bridge marks the site of the Hartrick Mill which operated on the creek from 1868 until the great flood of 1927. Rocks from the old mill dam still can be seen in the creek bed.

The second section of the Cadron Creek starts at the county bridge northeast of Guy (local storeowners can provide directions) and is roughly 10 miles in length. The take-out point is at the new bridge between Guy and Twin Groves in an area known as Pinnacle Springs. Once the site of a flourishing resort in the 1880s, the community boasted a dozen bath houses along with two hotels, a college, a saloon, a skating rink, and even a cotton gin. To get to this historic take-out, go west from Guy for three miles or so on Ark. 310 extended. The float trip is a good one, particularly during its last few miles where the current picks up. Class II rapids--some with willow thickets--can be expected.

The Cadron's third section--Pinnacle Springs to U.S. 65--is the shortest of the four, but may make for one of the best canoe trips on the Cadron. In its three-and-a-half mile run, the paddler will find rocky shoals (up to class II), quiet pools, and rugged bluffs. Willow strainers will also be present.

The last float trip on the Cadron Creek is the 10-11 mile trip from the U.S. 65 bridge down to the Ark. 285 crossing 10 miles north of Wooster. It, too, offers a good experience, complete with class I/class II rapids, the highest bluffs on the creek, and occasional wildlife.

Seasons

Cadron Creek is a pretty reliable stream. One published account claims it can be floated "90% of the time between December and June."

Access Points

Points of access include: the Ark.124 crossing; the county bridge northeast of Guy; Ark. 310 going west from Guy; the U.S. 65 bridge; and the Ark. 285 crossing.

Scenery

First-time visitors to the Cadron are invariably surprised at the scenery. Most have no idea that a whitewater stream exists in central Arkansas--much less that it features bluffs, pinnacles, and caves. But all of these attractions are found on Cadron Creek. Not only that, the scenery changes from season to season. Many of the bluffs will be ice-encrusted during the winter months; later on they'll be the locations for waterfalls.

Fishing

By all appearances, Cadron Creek should be a great little smallmouth stream. But surprisingly, smallmouth bass are virtually absent from these waters. Because the water is warmer than on most Arkansas float streams, the Cadron hosts a variety of species more commonly found in the sluggish streams of the lowlands, such as largemouth bass and flathead catfish.

Here anglers pursue tailwalking largemouth bass, feisty crappie and the good-things-come-in-small-packages bluegill. Flathead catfish, which may tip the scales at 50 pounds or more, are also present in good numbers, giving the visiting angler an outstanding opportunity to land a real leviathan.

Services Available

Most all supplies can be obtained in Greenbrier or other nearby communities. Conway, about 15 miles south of the Cadron on U.S. 65, is a major commercial center with overnight accommodations available. For the increasingly popular canoe-and-camping trips, campgrounds are located at Woolly Hollow State Park a few miles northeast of Greenbrier, and also at the more distant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' parks on Greers Ferry Lake.

Other Information

Cadron Creek is also "floatable" downstream from the Ark. 285 bridge. While it doesn't offer the whitewater recreation of the upstream reaches, this lower section can make for an enjoyable float trip.

In addition, the Cadron has a sister stream--East Cadron Creek--that can provide several good float trips. One--the eight-mile section between Ark. 36 and 107--goes past Mansfield Bluff, Rainbow Falls, Buzzard's Roost, and an interesting array of tupelo gum trees. A 10-mile float from the 107 crossing down to a county bridge is also possible.

Finally, Cadron Creek and its East Fork flow almost entirely through private property. Canoeists, therefore, need to respect the rights of riparian landowners, especially when planning canoe and camping trips.