At 200-feet, it’s the tallest waterfall between The Rockies and Appalachians. There’s no doubting that Hemmed-In Hollow is one humdinger of a waterfall. Even when its long, billowing cascade is of modest volume, the geology of the fall alone is worth seeing.
There are two ways to get to Hemmed-In Hollow: either from the Compton Trailhead or from the river when it’s floatable (which is far easier and much shorter). Directions for both follow. Download a Hemmed-In Hollow Trail Map:
Trailhead Directions from Ponca
Take Hwy 43 North from Ponca to Compton (about 9 miles), where you’ll see a gravel road on the right, marked by a wooden sign that says “Wilderness Access.” This road is across from a small, vacant store. Turn here and about a block later you’ll take a hard right. Drive for about a mile down a long straight-away until you see another wooden sign marking the right-hand turn to the Hemmed-In Hollow trailhead. At the trailhead there are two trails: one for Hemmed-In Hollow (on the left) and one for Sneeds Creek (on the right), which is popular with trail riders.
Hemmed-in-Hollow from the River
Duration: About 1 Hour R/T
There is another, less physically demanding way to get to Hemmed-In Hollow and that is by floating the upper Buffalo River during canoe season (March – June). It is about 1/2-mile of moderate hiking to reach the waterfall from the river. The trail starts about 1 mile downstream of Jim Bluff (a feature on the river left that is marked by a large, flat rock painted with the words “Jim Bluff” on it); the trail is on river left. The National Park Service has a sign marking the pull-out for the trail, although the occasional flood is known to take down the sign, so don’t rely on this entirely. Usually the best way to know you’re there is by the number of canoes, kayaks and rafts already parked at the trailhead.
Grab Your Camera and Capture Stunning Pictures of The Waterfall
Serious photographers will want to be at the waterfall by 9:30 AM at the latest in order to catch the waterfall in even light. Arriving at 8:30 AM is even better, although this means starting the trail in the dark certain times of the year.
Ever See a Waterfall in The Rain?
The best time to view the waterfall is during times of reoccurring rainfall, such as springtime, early summer thunderstorm season and even fall. In winter, spray from the waterfall fall can form an ice dome at the fall’s base, which offers the hiker an entirely different way to appreciate the scenery.
Be Prepared for A Steady, Steep Hike
This is not a hike we recommend for young children or folks who tire quickly. While the trail is downhill all the way, it’s a steady and sometimes steep 2.5-mile climb out, so take plenty of water with you and something to snack on.
That being said, this is definitely a trail worth doing if your physical well-being is up to the 4 or 5 hours it takes to complete the hike.
Take a Day Hike and Check out Sneeds Creek and An Historic Log Cabin
If you want to make a day of it, it’s a 20-minute hike down to the Buffalo River from the waterfall, which also puts you in proximity to pretty Sneeds Creek and Granny Henderson’s historic log cabin.