Cadron Creek map
Each spring dozens and dozens of canoeists load up their gear and head for 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 great canoeing stream - Cadron Creek.
The Cadron 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.
Source to Arkansas River, a distance of about 59 miles.
The Cadron doesn't receive much canoeing use above the Arkansas 124 bridge west of Quitman, although the North Fork can be floated downstream from Gravesville.
The first major run begins at the Highway 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 creekbed.
The second section of the Cadron 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 in an area known as Pinnacle Springs that was once the site of a flourishing resort community in the 1880's. A dozen bath houses were found in the town, 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 Arkansas 310. The road will end at the creek. The float 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, Pin- nacle Springs to U.S. 65, is the shortest of the four, but may be the best of the lot. 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 on the Cadron is the 10 - 11 mile trip from the U.S. 65 bridge down to the Arkansas 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.
Cadron Creek is a pretty reliable stream. One published account claims it can be floated "90% of the time between December and June. " For a more accurate day-to-day reading, check the gauge under the U.S. 65 bridge; levels of 2.00 feet and above are desirable (6.00 and up is not recommended).
Points of access include: the Arkansas 124 crossing; the county bridge northeast of Guy; Arkansas 310 going west from Guy; the U.S. 65 bridge; and the Arkansas 285 crossing.
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.
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.
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 op- portunity to land a real leviathan.
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. Campgrounds are located at Woolly Hollow State Park a few miles northeast of Greenbrier, and also at the more distant Corps of Engineers' parks on Greers Ferry Lake.
Cadron Creek is also "floatable" downstream from the Arkansas 285 bridge. While it doesn't offer the white- water recreation of the upstream reaches, this lower section can be enjoyable.
In addition, the Cadron has a sister stream - East Cadron Creek - that can provide several good float trips. One - the eight-mile section between Arkansas 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.
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ARKANSAS RIVERS & CREEKS
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