This is an excellent trail, down into one of the most scenic and steepest canyons along the Buffalo River. The trail leaves south from the Compton Trailhead and descends some 2,000 feet down, over rocks and very steep terrain, to the Hemmed and Hollow Falls and the Buffalo River. Along the way, you are treated to fantastic bluffs, deep canyon views and plenty of forest and rock formations. There are even several smaller, but still beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Upon making it to the Hemmed in Hollow Falls, you will be exposed to the tallest waterfall between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains, at some 242 feet. During periods of high water, the view and spender of the falls and the Hemmed in Hollow Canyon are second to none. For the experienced climber, there is a very steep, rough and non-maintained trail that goes up behind the falls and allows one to walk along the bluff and underneath the falls. This trail is very dangerous and should be considered with extreme caution. This non-maintained trail also allows access to Diamond Falls, which is a hidden waterfall just west from the Hemmed in Hollow Falls. There are several other maintained trails that connect to the Compton Trail that will allow someone to explore much more of the immediate area and allow access to several other areas along the Buffalo National River.
The ascent from Hemmed in Hollow Falls back to the Compton Trailhead is steep, strenuous and humbling. The 2.5 mile trail ascends some 2,000 feet back over the same rocks, boulders, steps and logs that you walked over to get down to the falls and represents a challenge to most who travel here. While the ascent can be humbling, the views and scenery remain amazing and the effort seems a small price to pay for such an experience.
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 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 trail head. At the trail head there are two trails: one for Hemmed-In Hollow (on the left) and one for Sneed’s Creek (on the right), which is popular with trail riders.