Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hideout Hollow Falls, Buffalo National River, between Compton and Erbie, Arkansas

6/6/2016 -  Hideout Hollow Falls

GPS Coordinates:  (Latitude,  Longitude,  Elevation)
  Parking Location:  36.07305   -93.26588
  Hideout Hollow Falls:  36.08080   -93.26977
Pet Friendly: No, unfortunately, the NPS is anti-dog.  This area is part of the Buffalo National River and is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.  Pets are not allowed on trails within the Buffalo National River, with the exception of the Mill Creek trail and the Buffalo Point campground trails.  You can see the NPS policy here.

Motorcycle Friendly: No, not at all friendly to your big bike.  The trailhead is 3.5 miles down a dirt road that gets pretty rough the last mile or two.

Hiking Statistics:  This is an easy hike, at least to the top of the falls.  It is one mile each way and the highest-to-lowest elevation change is only 150 feet.  Our actual hiking time was only about 20 minutes each way.  There are a couple of small creeks to cross, but I would still rate this an easy hike.  The climb to the base of the waterfall is a little iffy.

GPS files (.gpx format) - Maps of the GPS track are at the bottom of this post.

Hideout Hollow Falls (37 ft)
Hideout Hollow is not that far from the Erbie trailhead, so after completing our hike to Thunder Canyon Falls, my hiking companions and I decided to see what the road (NC-2700) up the mountain to the Hideout Hollow trailhead was like.  I was hiking today with Jim Fitsimones, Dan Frew, Todd Sadowski, and Jason Harris.  Thunder Canyon Falls was great, and thanks to Jim's penchant for wanting an early start, it was only mid-morning when we got back to the Erbie trailhead.  The Thunder Canyon Falls hike is not that tiring, so we were still relatively fresh, and had plenty of time for another hike.  Besides, on my first trip to Hideout Hollow just a few days ago, I didn't go to the base of Hideout Hollow Falls.  Dan had confirmed that he had taken the ledge I had seen on my previous hike to access the base of Hideout Hollow Falls, so I was eager to actually try it out.

Getting to the trailhead for us was easy, theoretically, because we were less than three miles down the road from it.  I say theoretically because this short stretch of NC-2700 is one of the worst roads in Arkansas, and you just never know if you will be able to get through on it.  We had come to Erbie on the Erbie Campground Road because we didn't know what the condition of the road was and couldn't trust it.  Today, the road was passable, so we had no problems.

Don't let my talk of the road between Erbie and the Hideout Hollow trailhead dissuade you from going to this nice waterfall.  You don't have to travel that part of the road, and the road from Compton to the trailhead is maintained.  To get there, go to the small community of Compton, 8.8 miles north of Ponca on Highway 43.  The small Compton post office will be on the left (coming from Ponca).  Turn right on the gravel road across the highway from the post office.  This is NC-2700.  At least that is what the road sign says.  My Cruiser's GPS says this road is NC-2800, and my road map calls it NC-2250.  The road sign says NC-2700, so that's what I'm going with. At the first intersection, turn right (to stay on NC-2700).   Stay on NC-2700, and go a total of 3.5 miles from the Compton post office.  There will be a place to park on the right, and a sign pointing to the Hideout Hollow trail.

We set off down the trail to Hideout Hollow Falls, and along the way I noticed how much drier it was now than when I visited the area just 11 days ago.  The two small creeks you cross on the trail were not running at all.  The second drainage that the trail dips down into then climbs back to the bluff is actually the drainage that Thunder Canyon Falls is in, over a mile downstream from where this trail crosses it.  On my last trip, it was a challenge crossing it without getting water in my boots.  Today, there was no flow at all, just some pools of water.  Clearly, this creek picks up a good deal of its flow further toward Thunder Canyon Falls downstream.  As beautiful as Thunder Canyon was today, it made me wonder how stunning it must have been a couple of weeks ago. 

The top of Hideout Hollow Falls,
and the ledge you need to crawl out on just beyond it.
Sure enough, as we approached Hideout Hollow Falls, I could tell the flow today was only a fraction of what it was on my previous visit.  Dan had been to the base of Hideout Hollow Falls before and showed us how it was done.  The ledge is just on the other side of the top of the waterfall as you approach it on the trail.  You have to cross the creek right at the top of the waterfall, then ease out onto the ledge.  There is an overhang above the ledge, so you end up crawling along it a few yards to get to the other end.  Out over the end, you will find a drop of about five feet down to rocks and a way down to the huge shelter at the base of the waterfall.  Someone has stacked up rocks to make the step-down and back up only three or four feet. 

Ruins of the old hideout
The shelter behind the waterfall is huge.  I'm not sure if anyone ever actually hid out here, but it would make a great place to do so.  There are ruins of an old stone structure that is referred to as 'the hideout', but this may very well have been someone's home 'back in the day' when folks lived all throughout these hollows.  In current times, we can't imagine living anywhere we can't even drive to, much less someplace this difficult to access.  The folks that pioneered the area in the early 19th century were made of tougher stuff, for sure.  After looking around, we climbed back up to the ledge, crawled back to the top of the waterfall, and headed back.

This is a really nice little hike that is an easy hike to the top of the waterfall, and a way to the base of the falls that is kind of iffy, but certainly doable for most hikers.  I have a hyper fear of heights but still managed it just fine.  I would definitely not take small children out on this ledge, as it is just too close to the edge of the bluff.  Just crossing the creek would be a little too risky as it is very slick when wet.  Likewise, people that have problems with balance should stay away from this ledge, and just enjoy the waterfall view from the top.  It is a long way down to the rocks below.
GPS Track - Hideout Hollow Falls

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