Explore the most popular camping trails in Buffalo National River Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Yes it is a climb up but it isn’t as hard as a lot of people have said. Bring water and some snacks. There are a few places to stop on the way to take a break if needed. The waterfall was only a trickle but that meant we didn’t get wet crossing the streams. Truly a sight to see!

Rewarding views around every turn! I started on the southern loop on day 2 but it was an exhausting series of switchbacks so I went back and explored the northern section again. Has everything! Towering bluffs, gurgling creek, plenty of camping spots, 200’ cliff/waterfall (if running). Even a creepy old cabin. Lots of hikers and horses on the northern section but it didn’t feel crowded. Peaceful, serene. I’d go every weekend if I could. Trail was poorly marked in several crucial areas. Expect to cross the river several times.

Great trail with an amazing ending! The cathedral is beautiful and the echos are awesome! The waterfall was only trickling very little but that made standing under it that much more fun to cool off. The hike down was pretty easy even though we broke a sweat. However the hike up made it the hardest hike I have ever encountered! It’s one of those that you give your hiking buddy a high five when you reach the top! It was really neat to see, but it’s safe to say I’ll probably only do it this one time.

Very nice, very tall falls. We got off our kayaks to hike up it. The hike there has a ton of scenery, you’ll cross several creeks to get there. Make sure it has rained prior if you want to see the falls in full effect. Well worth the trip.

backpacking
15 days ago

This was my first backpacking trip and so I might be slightly biased on the rating of 4 stars. It was a great first experience! Though, there were plenty of struggles along the way. My husband, who has been backpacking a few times before, said it was kind of a dud compared to other trips he's been on.

Pros:
*This trail isn't over traveled, especially on the week days. If you're looking to get away and be mostly alone, you won't meet too many people out there.
*There are some sites that were created for backpackers looking to stay in the back country, but you can just as easily create your own campsite and then leave no trace that you were there. One of the spaces that is created for back country camping is said to have Adirondack chairs built out of stone right along a creek that you can swim in. When you get about 2 miles in and reach the first sign on the trail, do not take the trail that goes up the hill, rather take the trail that verges away from the main trail. Not all of our group got to see this site. We camped about half a mile from there, because we didn't know about it. This would have been much preferred, if we had known about it!
*When you do get a chance to see a view of the mountains - it is gorgeous! There's a stretch where you can see the view through the trees right before you come back down the hill to the trail head.
*Wildlife - we didn't see any bears or any signs of bears. We did see a few white tail deer. We did not see any critters - raccoons, opossums, rabbits or squirrels. But there were plenty of bugs: mosquitoes, worms, millipedes, dung beetles, rhino beetles, lots of spiders (big and small), and hoverflies (flies that looks like bees). Spiderwebs on the trails were not very problematic either.

Cons:
*The dirt road to get to this trail is a little difficult in a car - it's a long dirt road, that winds up and down some pretty steep, rocky hills - but it is doable. Most people we saw back there had trucks or SUVs. You know you are starting to get close to the trail head when you have to drive across an area that flows with water. We did this in our car and we were completely fine! However, I would recommend being very careful if you're in a car and it is spring, when the waters may be much higher! There are some people who live back along the road so it appears to be pretty well-maintained. It's a beautiful drive, but definitely be careful driving over the rocks.
*Hiking this trail in the fall meant that water was fairly scarce if you didn't know where to go - as first timers, we didn't really know. Reaching a water source was very important for us and on a couple of different occasions, became a source of some concern. The places on the map where it said you should be crossing water and seeing water, did not have any water the majority of the time. These places were instead extremely rocky and sometimes very slick.
*Around the 3rd mile in, after seeing the sign that can take you to the creek, the main trail starts to climb. It is an uphill trek for what feels like an eternity and for what is really around about a mile. In terms of difficulty, when people say that this trail is moderate, I think the ratings are a bit skewed. The water crossings we did have were not bad! While crossing some of the slick, rocky areas was difficult, it was the uphill climb that made this trail difficult. Anyone seeking to do this trail, needs to know in advance that it is seriously a big heaping helping of SUCK. It's the part of the trail that makes you start to think about why you're doing what you're doing and whether or not it was a good decision to get out there and do it. That's the hill that tests your faith, endurance, and strength. BUT - if I could do it with a 35 pound pack on my back, ANYONE can do it!
*Poison Ivy was prevalent along the trail, as well as, some plants with thorns that overhang the trail.
*One of the main reasons we picked this trail is because we thought we would get to swim in a creek and see the old homesteads and cemetery. We saw some of these sites, but they really didn't end up being all that we had hoped for. It turned out that having a pack on, hiking and toughing it out with friends, setting up and tearing down camp, and just being out in nature was worth way more than the sites we had hoped to see.
*We weren't ready for the trip to end so soon. When we reached the second sign, we got a bit confused about where we were. We walked down the old horse road and ended up back at the car by surprise. We finished a day ahead of schedule. FYI there is ONLY ONE trail head. Take the trail to the right if you want your hike to continue.

There's so much more that could be said - ultimately, it was a great experience and a trail we would recommend, as long as you willing to embrace the suck that comes with the big uphill climb. It's beautiful countryside and well worth the effort and time! Enjoy!

Great hike, but be ready for the return trip!! Took us 1.5 hrs to get down, and 2hrs to get back up. You'll feel it the next day... Waterfalls and Creeks were all dried up in late September. Saw a 24" Copperhead at the waterfall site. Would recommend bringing sandals or watershoes if you want to swim or explore in the river bc it's hard to walk barefoot in all the rocks. River was pretty shallow, but could probably find deeper pools if you explored a bit. Save your energy for the hike up though!!

on Hemmed in Hollow Trail

27 days ago

One of the hardest trail I’ve ever experienced BUT it is really worth it.
Even though, the waterfall was barely floating but it was beautiful and the formation of the surroundings was amazing.

I will do it again on the spring!!

This is one of the most difficult and most rewarding trails I’ve ever been on. The trail is well maintained and easy to navigate. The creeks and waterfalls were pretty dry, but the exposed rock formations were beautiful. There’s a really amazing overlook at the first campsite you encounter. It’s worth pausing for a minute just to take in the view. The “end” of the trail is so beautiful! It’s seriously like walking into a cathedral and the echo was one of my favorite features. The climb out was so hard. Had to stop for heart rate and breathing breaks. This trail is so worth the work you’re about to put in.

hiking
1 month ago

Instead of hiking from the Compton trailhead, we actually ended up hiking from a trailhead at Kyle's landing. The trail definitely need some maintenance and there were hardly any markers until you got to the compton trail pass and merged from there. From Kyle's landing, the trail doesn't have as much grueling up or down hill hiking, however you do end up crossing the buffalo river about 5 times out (10 total). It was also easy to get lost since the trail wasnt properly marked, we ended up down another trail that took us an extra mile in a circle. you get to see some really cool old barns and houses on this side of the trail though. it ends up being about 6.5 miles, if you don't get lost!

The hike there and back is not easy but the falls!!!! What a spectacular bluff. So much larger than I’d imagined. It was like walking into a cathedral, it creates a magical space to be in. There was only a trickle, but it was still beautiful. There is poison ivy around on most of the trail, but also so many lizards and butterflies. The way back up is serious with large rock steps and large rocks to climb on the way.

2 months ago

Beautiful fall !!

backpacking
2 months ago

My wife and I along with another couple backpacked Sneed's Creek and then back to the Compton trailhead by way of Hemmed in Hollow. Very beautiful! Even though the waterfall was merely just a sprinkling of water it was still amazing to see the size of the wall! Hiking back to the trailhead with our backpacks on was extremely difficult, but exceptionally beautiful. Definitely a hard trail on the uphill hike to the trailhead. Would love to see the waterfall during the wet season. Next time may use this trail as a starting point and not an ending point.

backpacking
2 months ago

Very beautiful even during the dry season. My wife and I, along with another couple backpacked Sneed's Creek from the Compton trailhead and then looped back by way of Hemmed in Hollow. Sneed's Creek was somewhat overgrown and hard to see the trail, but was very beautiful nonetheless. We camped north of the old homestead near where Sneed's Creek feeds into the Buffalo River. Many primitive campsites were along the trail. We filtered all of our water from the Buffalo, however, I wouldn't recommend drinking straight from the source. Definitely a hard hike with a backpack but very well worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

Fun hiking trail! It's well kept, and marked good enough to reach the end and back with no issue. Waterfall is AMAZING, but more for its structure than anything else. Highly recommended if you can appreciate an aggressive hike from the Compton Trailhead. River was dry so no human traffic from river. We saw more wildlife than humans which is the kind of trail we like. Ran across 2 primitive camp sites, but no camping near the fall. A few pointers...remember, it's down and back (which is up) from the Compton Trailhead. If you can't walk or run 5k on flat ground, then this trail is not for you. Watch for rattlesnakes. We saw 3-4 ft rattler on the rock steps. If you use the post office as a landmark to find the trailhead, it's gone...looks burned down. Overall, a fantastic hiking experience!

hiking
3 months ago

This was fun! Minus the fact that we were the first on the trail and dealt with ALL the morning spiderwebs, it was a very unique hike. The reviews are all correct - bomb down and hike up. We actually found that it took us longer going down however bc we were being so cautious with footing.

While the waterfall was barely flowing, it was still nice to get underneath and cool off. We took lunch and ate down at the falls. Really beautiful and worth the hike down.

The hike up was a challenge but not crazy. Just about an hour of uphill hiking and lots of stairs. We took a few water breaks and heart rate breaks and had a great time!

Beautiful scenery. If you hike from the Compton trailhead, it is a heck of a climb coming back up. If you just want to see the fall, I’d recommend starting from the river. It’s short and sweet. However, I don’t know if there is any way to access the trailhead from the river unless you’re floating. Anyways, beautiful scenery and a truly great hike! Try not to do it in the extreme heat. I’d say basically anytime except for July-mid September would be the best time to go.

absolutely beautiful hike, take plenty of water with you.

hiking
4 months ago

This hike is difficult, pack plenty of water and a snack. It took us a minimum of three hours and the hike back up felt very daunting. Be warned that it’s definitely not easy.

hiking
4 months ago

It gets pretty crowded as a lot of canoers from the Buffalo make the hike from down there. The hike back up to the Compton trailhead can be pretty brutal too. Instead of hiking in from the top, you’re better off taking a day to float the river and making a quick hike up to the waterfall from there. That hike would be pretty short, so it would be well worth it.

hiking
4 months ago

The waterfall was neat, but the trails could have been more clearly marked (or marked at all).

I hiked this trail Sunday May 7th 2018. It was very well marked and cleared well. It was a few days after a good rain and the falls were running great. I was surprised to see the parking lot very crowded and I passed several large groups of people on my hike. The views were great and the big falls were amazing. I'm definitely going back. It took me about 45 minutes to get to the falls with a few stops for pictures and a little over an hour to get back up the mountain. If you are not fit enough for this hike and just want to see the falls, it's much easier to access the falls from the river by canoe, kayak or raft. From the river to the falls is a short hike that is much easier than the trail up and down to the Compton trail head. I highly recommend this hike!

hiking
5 months ago

Rough trail and tough hike but the scenery at sneeds Creek is awesome!!!!! if you follow sneeds Creek past granny Henderson's house, useing the Buffalo River Trail and cross the river, you can eventually pick up the hemmed in Hollow Trail back up to the trailhead. You can make this a big loop with the hemmed-in Hollow Trail.

This was a tough hike. Fun, if you like a challenge. The trip back was the hardest part, as it is all up hill. I was nervous about trying it after reading some reviews. But, it’s doable for most with average physical ability. I saw several families with children on this trail. The waterfall was beautiful. Bring plenty of water and wear good shoes!

Great trail. Nice scenery. The hike back up is hard, but it’s a great cardio workout.

Not the prettiest waterfall, but I believe it is the tallest in Arkansas. Trail was easy going down, but difficult going back up! Take plenty of water!!!

hiking
5 months ago

It's a cool hike and a great workout, but I was personally a little let down by the waterfall itself. Perhaps I need to stop expecting so much from waterfalls, but it is almost non-existent unless there has been rain recently. It is still a cool cliff face, but not what I was expecting.

hiking
5 months ago

Goat Trail was awesome!!!!

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome trail!!!! The scenery is towards the bottom as you near the Fall area. Easy trail to follow, but be prepared, and ready for a workout going back up to the trailhead. Be sure to go when you know the water is going to be running. Absolutely a beautiful area.

hiking
5 months ago

great trail, with wonderful scenery along the way and a awsome waterfall at the end

camping
6 months ago

Stunning views and a tough hike! Definitely bring extra water and take your time back up!

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