The real players in this Ozarks show are backstage behind a curtain of water that plunges over the lip of a sheer cliff.
Hideout Hollow, with its dazzling waterfall near the Buffalo National River, is aptly named. This isolated horseshoe canyon would make a fine hideout, to be sure, tucked away in the woods far from civilization.
Not only that, much of its beauty hides out upstream from the showy 37-foot waterfall that most people seek.
There’s plenty to see during a downhill 1-mile hike to Hideout Hollow. A rock garden of truck-sized boulders waits to be explored about halfway down the path. Stellar vistas of wooded hollows unfold as the trail hugs the edge of a cliff en route to the tumbling cascades.
To reach the trailhead, travel north from Ponca on Arkansas 43 to the Compton community. Turn right on the gravel road across the highway from a store and a post office building. Follow this road about 3 miles until it ends at a large sign that says the road is closed. The trailhead and parking is to the left of the sign.
The path is well-worn and easy to follow, descending though a power line cut and on to the maze of boulders. From here, the trail curves left and meanders beside the cliff edge.
Hikers who get the willies in high places can walk off trail farther away from the cliff until they reach a table of rock, a patio of sorts, at the top of the Hideout Hollow waterfall. A creek flows down the middle to create the waterfall and the wonderful cascades upstream.
Adults should use their best judgment before taking children to Hideout Hollow. Caution is key for every visitor. It’s easy to get caught up in taking pictures and marveling at the beauty of this place.
Exploring reveals nice views of the waterfall from the top. Some serious bushwhacking might reveal a route to the bottom of the cascade, but our quartet of hikers did our admiration from above.
The rock patio is far from the end of the line. A walk upstream is like a waterfall museum, a Crystal Bridges of lovely pouring water framed by nature.
One cascade tumbles down sort of a staircase of small ledges. Farther upstream, a 4-footer spills into a lagoon of crystal clear water, which would be the ultimate swimming hole on a hot day.
It’s mostly an uphill trek back to the trailhead for a round-trip hike of 2 miles. Hideout Hollow is a fine destination on its own, but the hike is short enough it can be coupled with a trip to other waterfalls and trails in the area. Our group visited nearby Twin Falls, also called Triple Falls, in the morning, then hiked to Hideout Hollow after lunch.
Trails, waterfalls and scenic drives are all players in the Ozarks springtime show.