Snow Photographs taken February 12, 2010 by Landon Powers
The total number of waterfalls in this area is unknown but there are at least two persistent waterfalls in the Sicily Island Hills. On a few occasions I have been south of Big Creek during very heavy rainfall and have seen temporary waterfalls of between four and six feet on the sides of the same canyon
that begins at Rock Falls, the waterfall that I previously called the 20 foot un-named waterfall.
The main reason that I held out calling the 20 foot waterfall south of Big Creek, Rock Falls, is because I could find no map or scientific publication referring to this waterfall by name. Nor could I find any reference as to why this feature was named Rock Falls. I contacted Lowery Moak of the local Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries office in Ferriday. Lowery told me that the locals who have lived in the area for generations call this waterfall Rock Falls. It is not a name on a map, but if people have invested their life in an area and they call it Rock Falls, that is sufficient for me.
Rock Falls is accessible about 2.7 miles from the southern WMA entrance.
Not long after you leave the asphalt of LA 8 the gravel road enters the forest and beyond the curve shown below the road continues up a loose gravelly curve and hill. Notice the Interstate 40 sign nailed to a tree.
You will pass through a cattle gap and see a designated primitive camping area on your left with a bulletin board usually holding maps of the WMA. Continue following this dirt and gravel road. You will encounter other dirt roads that spur off along the way but stay on the more heavily traveled road and you will find a sign on the right that reads Rock Falls Nature Trail.
There is now a parking area across from the pavilion at the trail entrance so pull your vehicle off to the side of the road and prepare for your adventure.
Once you enter the trail and pass beyond the pavilion
the trail descends slowly
then very rapidly and steeply
and levels off then follow the red paint markers up on the trees. The trail makes a broad curve first to the left and then back to the right. Sort of like a backwards question mark. Depending on the time of year and the flow of water, you may hear the waterfall before you see it. As you approach the waterfall along the trail you are above the gorge, down stream from the waterfall and about the same elevation as the top of the waterfall ledge.
Photograph courtesy of Kathleen Grice
Over the small stream above the waterfall is a footbridge. Sometimes after especially heavy rains, the footbridge gets dislodged from its original setting and is not in line with the pathway. After crossing over to the other side of the stream the path follows the canyon rim and there are now as of this writing, markers showing the path down into the canyon. To descend down to the floor of the canyon to the base of the waterfall is very steep, with loose soil and rocks and it can be treacherous. Down at the bottom, the floor of the canyon especially after prolonged and heavy rain, contains extremely slick rocks, sand, water from one inch deep to three or more feet deep, branches or whole trees, moss, and other obstacles. If you are a careful risk taker, you can follow the stream from the waterfall all the way down to Big Creek. But you must be aware of the danger of falling or drowning along the way. There are several series of pools of water along this stream. One of these pools drops off suddenly to about three feet in depth. This is not a place for small children.
Back to naming geographic features. The governing body for naming geographical features is the U.S. Board of Geographic Names. Visit them at http://geonames.usgs.gov/ The purpose of this federal body is to keep us all on the same page geographically. Imagine the chaos without a systematic approach to naming places. I contacted them many years ago to learn the procedure for naming geographical features. Someday I would like to approach them again with a proposal for an official name for the “20 ft waterfall” I think Rock Falls would be ideal.
In front of Rock Falls and in other spots along the stream leading to Big Creek there are small to deep pools that have been scoured out by the motion of the stream. The following photograph by Landon Powers is very near the base of the waterfall.
The other waterfall I have not yet visited is named St. Mary’s Falls,and it is accessed from the northern entrance to the WMA. There may be even more waterfalls in the area. I plan an extensive hiking exploration on my next trip to the area.
Make sure you have a valid license or stamp issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries when you visit the Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area ! This applies for any activity on the WMA, and is not just for fishermen or hunters!