Hemmed-In Hollow: Exploring the Tallest Waterfall Between The Rockies and Appalachians

By: NWA Daily

Nestled in the heart of the Ozarks, Hemmed-In Hollow boasts the tallest waterfall between The Rockies and Appalachians. Standing at an impressive 200-feet, this stunning cascade is a must-see for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. With two different trail options, you can choose the path that best suits your needs and abilities. In this blog post, we will guide you through the journey to Hemmed-In Hollow and share some trip highlights and tips for the best experience.

Trail Map and Directions

To reach Hemmed-In Hollow, you can start from either the Compton Trailhead or access the trail from the river during floatable seasons. Both options offer unique experiences and showcase the waterfall's beauty. You can download the Hemmed-In Hollow Trail Map here.

Trailhead Directions from Ponca

To access the Compton Trailhead, drive north on Hwy 43 from Ponca to Compton for about 9 miles, and look for a gravel road on the right marked by a wooden "Wilderness Access" sign. This road is across from a small, vacant store. Turn here, and after about a block, take a hard right. Drive for about a mile until you see another wooden sign marking the right-hand turn to the Hemmed-In Hollow trailhead. At the trailhead, you'll find two trails: one for Hemmed-In Hollow (on the left) and one for Sneeds Creek (on the right), popular among trail riders.

Hemmed-in-Hollow from the River

For a less physically demanding route, consider visiting Hemmed-In Hollow by floating the upper Buffalo River during canoe season (March – June). The trail from the river to the waterfall is about 1/2-mile of moderate hiking. The trail starts roughly 1 mile downstream of Jim Bluff (a feature on the river's left side marked by a large, flat rock with the words "Jim Bluff" painted on it). The National Park Service provides a sign marking the pull-out for the trail, but occasional floods may remove the sign, so don't rely on it entirely. The best way to know you're at the right spot is by the number of canoes, kayaks, and rafts already parked at the trailhead.

Trip Highlights

Capture Stunning Photos of the Waterfall: For the best lighting, serious photographers should aim to be at the waterfall by 9:30 AM at the latest. Arriving at 8:30 AM is even better, but it may require starting the trail in the dark during certain times of the year.

Witness the Waterfall in Rain: The optimal time to view the waterfall is during recurring rainfall, like springtime, early summer thunderstorm season, or even fall. In winter, spray from the waterfall can form an ice dome at the base, offering a unique way to appreciate the scenery.

Prepare for a Steady, Steep Hike: This hike is not recommended for young children or those who tire quickly. Although the trail is downhill, it's a steady and sometimes steep 2.5-mile climb out. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.

Explore Sneeds Creek and an Historic Log Cabin: If you're up for a full day of hiking, you can venture down to the Buffalo River from the waterfall in just 20 minutes. This route also leads to the beautiful Sneeds Creek and Granny Henderson's historic log cabin.


Hemmed-In Hollow is a breathtaking destination that should be on every nature lover's bucket list. With its awe-inspiring 200-foot waterfall and the stunning surrounding landscape, it's a perfect getaway for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Depending on your preferences, you can choose between the Compton Trailhead or the river trail during floatable seasons. Both options offer unique views and an unforgettable experience.

When planning your trip to Hemmed-In Hollow, remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, and sturdy hiking boots to ensure a comfortable and safe journey. The hike can be challenging, especially on the way back up, but the mesmerizing beauty of the waterfall and the surrounding area makes it all worthwhile.

In addition to the main attraction, consider exploring other nearby features, like Sneeds Creek and Granny Henderson's historic log cabin, to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region. The Hemmed-In Hollow trail is open year-round and offers breathtaking views and experiences no matter the season.

So, gather your hiking gear, download the trail map, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure at Hemmed-In Hollow. With its unmatched beauty and the tallest waterfall between The Rockies and Appalachians, this unique destination is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature.

Subscribe to receive our daily newsletter

Know all the happenings in NWA with a 5-minute read of our free email newsletter every weekday.