Tour bluffs surrounding Arkansas’s Buffalo National River before nabbing a view of the tallest waterfall between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. BY JONATHAN OLIVIER
Buffalo National River snakes its way through Ponca Wilderness Area in northwestern Arkansas, bordered by 200-foot bluffs and home to 209-foot Hemmed-in Hollow Falls. The vertical cascade is the tallest between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains and draws visitors from across the South. Water pours straight off a sandstone overhang, twisting and billowing before crashing to a creek below. Best viewing times are after a rain when water flow is high, or during the spring or fall. Making your way to the falls is more a leisurely stroll downhill, while the 2.5-miles back to the trailhead is an uphill climb of more than 1,000 feet.
Distance: 6.6 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 3,258 feet
Time: 4 hours
To the trailhead:
From Springdale, head east on Hwy 412 and exit right at Osage onto AR-103 until it merges into AR-43. Turn right onto Co Rd. 19, 1.1 miles and turn right onto Hemmed-in Hollow Rd to the Compton Trailhead. 36.0810215, 93.3031781
Turn by turn:
Mile 0.0: From the Compton Trailhead hike 1.8 miles downhill on the Hemmed-in Hollow Trail (HHT).
1.8: Turn left at the HHT and Old River Trail junction north .8 mile toward the falls.
2.5: Spot the falls to the north nestled against the bluffs before retracing your steps back to the parking area.
Season: Fall or spring for cooler temperatures and higher water volumes.
Red tape:Pets aren’t permitted on the Hemmed-in Hollow Trail.
Contact: Tyler Bend Visitor Center, (870) 439-2502
- State: AR
- City: Fayetteville, AR
- Distance: 6.6