9 In Arkansas/ Hiking + The Outdoors/ Travel

Hiking in the Ozarks – Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls – The Tallest Waterfall Between the Rockies & Appalachians

The 210 foot Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls is the tallest waterfall between the Rockies & the Appalachians. Spring and fall are the best times of year to see the falls really flowing, because a lot of the smaller falls in the Ozarks are wet-weather falls. The first time I hiked to Hemmed-in-Hollow was in late summer and even standing directly under the falls I barely got sprayed at all.

This time, Matt and I went after a week with some pretty hefty storms. We camped out at the Compton trailhead since we arrived after dark and then made our way down to the falls just after sunrise. We were hoping for loads of water rushing over because I’ve seen some glorious photos of this waterfall flowing at full-force.

How To Get to Hemmed-in-Hollow:

There are three ways to get to this waterfall

» Centerpoint Trailhead – According to the NPS way is a 4.9 mile, less strenuous hike to the fall off of a spur trail. If you go this way be sure to make a stop at Big Bluff (post coming soon). I’ve not followed this trail all the way to Hemmed-in-Hollow, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. 

» From the Buffalo River  – This is the easiest way to get there if you happen to be canoeing, kayaking or floating The Buffalo. This is an incredibly popular thing to do in the Ozarks, and if you’re going past this section of The Buffalo, it’s only about half a mile to the falls from here.

» Compton Trailhead – This is the most direct, but also the most difficult of the three ways to get there. This trail is 5.1 miles roundtrip, and drops about 1200 feet down and then you get to climb back up it. This is the trail I’ve taken both times.

Hitting the Trail:


One thing that I absolutely love about the Buffalo River Region is these amazing bluff faces. They stand beautifully tall, holding loads of history that tower over you as you float down these beautiful turquoise/teal waters. They’re just as impressive looking at them from trails as well.


Not to mention that you get to see stunning views of these mountains from the trail when the trees open up a bit. There are also some wildflowers along this trail. Camping is allowed along the trail until you get down into the box canyon. Matt & I have been camping in the car lately, so we just camped at the trailhead.

After an incline that will make your knees shake, you come to the box canyon and turn left following the creek until you get to the back wall of the canyon & Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls.


Even thought there was quite a bit of rain earlier that week, the two dry days before our visit slowed the flow of the falls. You can definitely see the top of the falls, but you start to lose it towards the bottom.


That’s me standing at the bottom right – just for a size comparison. (photo by my amazing fiancé)


A box canyon is a canyon that can really only be accessed from the mouth (although, a trail down can obviously grant you access) because there are three very steep walls. I think this makes for a really beautiful viewing of a waterfall because it makes it seem more secluded and intimate.


Speaking of it being secluded and more intimate – we only saw one person while we were at the base of the canyon. I highly recommend getting up early and ahead of the hikers that come a little bit later. On our way out we had well over a dozen people pass us headed down.

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This photo is looking out from the waterfall towards the mouth of the canyon. It is a lot more lush down there than you might think from just seeing photos of the falls. If you would continue this direction, you would get to the Buffalo River in less than half a mile.

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I have to admit that I’m glad we saw someone there because he snapped a photo of the two of us by the base of the falls. 

Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls is a pretty special part of the Ozarks considering it’s the tallest waterfall in the region. Although, having seen a less than gushing flow both times, I’m not in a massive hurry to get back to this waterfall, unless we hit it up while canoeing this summer. Even though twice has been enough for me at this time, it’s definitely worth the trip at least once. The Ozarks is an extremely beautiful region that covers NW Arkansas & SW Missouri. In Arkansas it’s all about massive bluffs, mountains, rivers & more. In Missouri it’s lakes, springs, caves & more. The Ozarks as a whole is just full of treasures waiting to be explored – be sure to check back for more hikes in this beautiful region!

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Hiking to the TallestWaterfall Between The Rockies &The Appalachians

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  • Reply
    Dawn ONeill
    June 13, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I pinned this article, too. I’ll let you know if I see people re-pinning it from my page.

    • Reply
      June 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Thank you so much, Dawn! Xx

  • Reply
    June 13, 2016 at 11:04 am

    That is really massive. I love the photo with you in it to show the enormous height of the fall. I had no idea this region had so many wonderful hikes. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I love the way trees are clinging on to the cliffs in some of these pictures. It looks like a great place to visit. Sorry to hear that the falls weren’t gushing when you were there. Some waterfalls can be annoyingly seasonal!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Stunning photos! If I ever visit, I think I’ll try the Buffalo River route. I haven’t kayaked or canoed in a while, but with it only being half a mile it would be an easy way to get there. I don’t mind a hike, but 5 miles is quite long for me 🙂

  • Reply
    June 13, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    I enjoy visiting waterfalls and will definitely visit this if I am ever in the Ozark area. I find it amazing how much the weather can affect the flow of waterfalls. There is a similar waterfall just outside of Toronto. When we firs visited there was barely a drip. The second time, there was no way it was safe to hike to the bottom as the flow was so strong!

  • Reply
    Its A Travelful Life (@atravelfullife)
    June 14, 2016 at 3:56 am

    Putting yourself in the picture to give your readers an idea of how tall it is was really clever. I’m in awe of the size of the waterfall. The photos are just spectacular.

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