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11/20/13 Notes on Sylamore Creek and Gunner Pool

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

One of my favorite spots to spend time with a camera is around Gunner Pool campground.  There are some great old growth trees around this area and in the fall they tend to have a wonderful fall display.  Two of my favorite spots to work are from the old CCC (Civilian Convervation Corps) concrete bridge over Sylamore creek and then the old rock dam (featured in the photo) that creates Gunner Pool itself.  Around the old bridge there are some Sycamore trees that are over 70 feet tall and probably over 100 years old.  They can create a beautiful display in the fall.  Around the rock dam you will find hickory and maple trees most of which are 2nd growth forest and not very tall, but still they can create a wonderful display of color.

Sylamore creek also has some very nice spots to work with.  The lower level of the campground features about 5 separate campsites all of which are close to the creek.  The creek opens into a large pool.  For years I always thought that this was “Gunner Pool”, but the actual Gunner pool is made by the small side creek with the rock dam.  However the pool at Sylamore creek is a wonderful swimming hole and in the summer you can count on a large crowd to be there.  I prefer to go in the late spring and late fall when there are less people milling around.  The far side of the pool has some large rocks that have fallen off the tall bluff on the far side of the creek.  The campground side of the creek has a nice beach.  Further downstream you can find some nice rapids.

There is a trail that runs along Sylamore creek from Gunner Pool campground all the way to Barkshed campground.  This trail starts down by the creek as soon as you cross the high concrete bridge and then slowly works its way up to the top of the ridge.  It will pretty much stay up on the top of the ridge until you start to get close to Barkshed campground.  Barkshed is not a very large spot and does not have the same ambiance that Gunner Pool has.  The sites are much more primitive.

From Gunner Pool, you can hike on this same trail until you come to Blanchard Springs campground.  Here you can also spend sometime in the caverns which can be a nice experience especially in the summer.  There is a much more formal campground at Blanchard Springs with RV hookups and it’s definitely not a primitive campground.

If you are looking for a great place to explore and spend the weekend, then consider heading to Gunner Pool campground.




06/15/13 Gunner Pool Campground and 5 others closed to swimming due to e-coli outbreak

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

After reading the Arkansas Gazette yesterday, I noticed that several noted Arkansas swimming areas were closed due to a outbreak of e-coli in the water.  One of the areas mentioned was one of my favorite spots in Arkansas, Gunner Pool.  Sad to here this, and surprised to hear it due to the recent spell of high water we have had in Arkansas.  However Gunner Pool does tend to get a lot of use and the road will allow larger RV’s to make it into the campground.

This picture is of the CCC dam that creates the actual Gunner Pool, which is off to the far side of the campground and missed by many people who think the large pool in Sylamore creek is Gunner Pool.  This rock dam was made with local stone and created in the 1930’s by the CCC.  There was a formal CCC camp at Gunner Pool for many years.  I took this photograph of the dam back in 2008 after a rain storm.  The fall colors were just starting to peak.

Gunner Pool Campground and Barkshed Campground swimming areas were both closed along with the larger swimming area at Blanchard  Springs.  This implies that the problem is in Sylamore Creek itself and may be from some farm effluence running off into the creek.  These types of breakouts tend to occur later in the summer after the water has started to stagnate.  However Arkansas just had record streamflows less than two weeks ago and I am sure that Sylamore creek was effected.

Hopefully this ban won’t be for the rest of the year, but with all of the layoff and cutbacks in the federal programs, it’s hard to tell what’s going on anymore.  Just recently a large number of campgrounds along the Buffalo river had their facilities reopened since locals volunteered to keep them clean.  Gunner Pool is a full service campground with facilities, Barkshed is more of a primative site with tents sites only.  Both are bordered by Sylamore creek.

Sylamore creek is a great spot to visit in cleaner times.  It’s one of the best small creeks in the Arkansas for day hiking and if you hike up the creek from Gunner Pool you will be treated to several nice small bluffs and rapids that make for great photographic subjects.  There is also a formal backpacking trail that runs from Gunner Pool to Barkshed.  This same trail also runs all the way to Blanchard Springs caverns.