The tallest waterfall between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains.
Nestled in the heart of the Ponca Wilderness Area of the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas lies the tallest waterfall between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. The waterfall is 209 feet tall and is situated in Hemmed-In Hollow, a small valley enclosed on three sides by 200+ foot bluffs. Late winter and early spring (times of heavy rain) are the best times of the year to visit Hemmed-In Hollow since the water generally flows heavily over the cliff. For most of the rest of the year the flow over the falls is light and can diminish to almost nothing during dry periods.
As the water streamed over the cliff it broke into thousands of individual droplets. The wind swirling around the canyon pushed the falls in all different directions and it seemed as if the falls were doing a dance around the canyon. It was really fascinating to watch the falls dance back and forth as we sat gazing at the beautiful surroundings.
Hemmed-In Hollow can be accessed two different ways: either from the Compton Trailhead or from the Buffalo River when it’s floatable (which is a lot easier and much shorter). It’s a 5 mile round trip hike from the Compton Trailhead, 2.5 miles downhill to the waterfall and a difficult and sometimes steep 2.5 mile climb back to the trailhead.
The other, less strenuous way to reach Hemmed-In Hollow is by floating the upper Buffalo River (generally, Ponca to Kyles Landing) during canoe season (March – June). About 6 miles into the float, you’ll reach Jim Bluff (there’s a stone at the base of the bluff with the bluff’s name written on it). About a mile later, you’ll want to pull out of the water on the left side of the river and park your canoe/kayak to start the walk to the waterfall. I have heard there are signs on the river pointing to the beginning of the trailhead but we didn’t see any signs last May while floating. If it’s a good floating day, keep an eye out for a lot of parked canoes on the gravel bar around the general area of the trailhead, this is how we found the trail. After parking your canoe, it’s about a 3/4-mile walk from the river to the waterfall.
My thoughts: definitely visit Hemmed-In Hollow, it’s one of the scenic icons of the upper Buffalo River and you don’t want to miss it! It’s a really beautiful area, pictures don’t quite do the whole experience justice. It’s so serene sitting on the rocks watching the water as it splashes off the base of the cliff.
Have you been to Hemmed-In Hollow? Is Hemmed-In Hollow a place you want to visit? Leave your thoughts in the comments below- I would love to hear what you think!
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