Back in early June, I was excited to hike to Hemmed-in Hollow Falls. It is in the Upper District of the Buffalo National River, southwest of Harrison, Arkansas. I took the main trail from the Compton Trailhead.
Hemmed-in Hollow Falls is the tallest waterfall in Arkansas — 209 feet. It also is the longest waterfall between the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains.
This trail is a tough challenge, but the waterfall is very beautiful. My first attempt at doing the trail back in May was only of limited success. (I finished nearly all of the trail, but ended up going on a spur and inadvertently went to a different waterfall.)
The trailhead is in the community of Compton, about 15 miles southwest of Harrison on Highway 43. When you get to Compton, just follow the “Compton Trailhead” signs.
The big challenge with this trail is not getting down to the waterfall, it is the long uphill return trip.
The 2.4-mile trail (4.8 miles round trip) takes you on a long curving southward descent to the bottom of Hemmed-in Hollow valley. The first 1.6 miles or so is continuously downhill, and the trail seems to get progressively steeper the further you go.
Then the trail turns northward heading across the valley to get to the waterfall. The waterfall is at the edge of a tall bluff.
The net elevation gain (difference between highest and lowest points) on the hike is 1,170 feet. The cumulative elevation gain (i.e., total uphill climbing) for the out-and-back hike is 1,328 feet.
Unfortunately, like all the trails in the Buffalo National River seem to be, there are almost no blazes on the trail. So if you aren’t careful, it is not too difficult to end up heading in a wrong direction on a spur trail. That is what I did when I walked the trail in early May.
There is a creek crossing at around 2.1 miles where the well-worn trail obviously continues straight across the creek. I was confused about which way was the correct path and decided to turn left at the creek crossing instead. That spur goes northeast to a different waterfall. That one is a pretty waterfall, about 30 feet tall, but it is not Hemmed-in Hollow Falls. (If you arrive at a waterfall that is obviously much less than 200 feet tall, you aren’t at Hemmed-in Hollow Falls.)
Some of these photos are from my May hike and some are from my early June visit when I made it to the actual waterfall.
Like most waterfalls in Arkansas, the waterfall is best seen during high water time. My understanding is that during low-water times, there is often just a trickle coming from the waterfall which turns into droplets before hitting the ground.
I was fortunate that there was plenty of water at the Falls when I hiked it in June.
A word of caution: if you do the hike when there has been recent rain, going down the steep parts of the trail can be quite slick and muddy.
Especially given how difficult this trail is, I was excited to see quite a few people on the trail when I hiked it in early June. I would estimate between 50 and 75 people on the trail that day.
You will probably see a few smaller waterfalls on the way to the Falls. There also are some very scenic views of the entire Hollow area at a vista about one mile into the trail. In fact from this vista, you can see the top of Hemmed-in Hollow Falls in the distance.
You can read about Shelley’s visit to Hemmed-in Hollow (with a return trip via the Old River Trail) here.
Hemmed-in Hollow (Via Compton) Trail Map
Click here or below for full-screen photo gallery.
Hemmed-in-Hollow Trail via Compton Trailhead (Buffalo River)
Location Newton County, Arkansas Hike Length/Type 4.8 miles out and back (2.4 miles each way) Difficulty Very strenuous (5 of 5) Directions Go to the community of Compton, Arkansas, about 15 miles southwest of Harrison on Hwy 43. Follow, the signs to get to the Compton Trailhead. Other Permitted Usage None ATT Cell Coverage? About 20% Official Info - Phone/Links (870) 439-2502. Website. Official Trail Map. Weather/Conditions 60's Date Hiked 06-02-2013