The bluffs of the Ozarks so beautiful I could cry, but hiking the steep terrain makes me want to cry, too. As do the bugs, the heat, and the snakes. The only time the physicality of hiking “itself” is any fun is during the cold months, when the bugs are dead and the snakes are sleeping and sweat’s not rolling into your eyes. But it’s also nowhere near as pretty.
My friend Lauri and I hit Hemmed-In Hollow on one of those rare, perfect early spring days when things have started to turn green and but it’s still cool enough for a light pullover. It’s reportedly Arkansas’ tallest waterfall, if not the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. But best of claims always make me a bit suspicious. No bother.
Looking up “Hemmed-In Hollow” Googlemaps took us east of Fayetteville and almost exactly to the trailhead. Maybe a 45 minute drive, but I didn’t keep track. It was a misty day, which I love because it reminds me of the Pacific Northwest of my childhood, and the high hilltops were completely submerged in fog.
The trailhead starts at the top of a hill and drops about 3 miles straight down. It’s a knee-buster for sure.
But so worth it.
There are great views of the bluffs along the Buffalo River.
And then the falls itself, of course.
There were other people there, including a few frat bros that were pretty entertained by shouting at their own echoes along the rock walls. I was in such good spirits that it didn’t bother me, but there were definitely a few other nincompoops on the trail that weren’t so amused.
A short hike opposite the falls leads to the river, where you can watch drunken canoers get stuck on gravel banks. I honestly have never laughed so hard and so openly at so many good-willed strangers in my entire life. The entire valley was a party.
My 13-year old Pax was a total trooper on this hike, which my iPhone says is the equivalent of 112 stories and 8.1 miles, but I wouldn’t make her go through it again. On the return uphill hike, I had to help her up and over almost every big rock step. With a srpyer but well-behaved dog, though, what a joy it would be.