Hiking the Hide-Out Hollow Trail

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To find the trail to Hide-Out Hollow, you have to know where you’re going.  Thanks to my pre-trip research into good hiking trails in the Arkansas Ozarks, I knew that it would be worth the effort.  It only takes about a one-mile hike to reach an interesting hollow, surrounded by dense forest and the sound of trickling water.

Location

Hideout Hollow is located off Route 43, about 17 miles southwest of Harrison, and 9 miles north of Ponca.  Turn off Route 43 onto County Road 19 (Erbie Road).  You will pass a few homes and barns, but keep following the most logical dirt road.  There will be a sign for another trailhead, down a road that turns off to the right, but you should ignore that sign, and keep going straight.  About 3 1/2 miles after turning off the highway, you’ll see a dirt parking lot on the left.  Pull in, and you’ll see the Schermerhorn/Hide-Out Hollow sign at the start of the trail.

My Visit

Here’s the sign that lets you know you’re in the right place.  Hit the trail in the direction of the arrow.

The trail briefly passes through a clearing (under power lines — notice the upper right corner of the picture), then passes through the forest.

It’s an uneventful hike, until you start seeing giant chunks of the hill’s rocky core, breaking through to the surface.  A little further…

… and the trail hits this rocky bluff.  A great view of the surrounding hills opens up.  Hide-out Hollow is directly below your feet.

The sound of trickling water tells you which way to go next — which is helpful, since there are no trail markers (and only a very rough trail).  Cut your own course to the left, along the bluff, heading towards the water, and the narrowing end of the hollow.

Hideout Hollow ends at an exposed rock, “U” shaped overhang.  There’s at least a 50-foot drop, I’d estimate, from here to the bottom of the hollow.

A small stream tumbles over some smaller rocks, then flows over the overhang, before dropping down to the ground below.  To get to the best view of the waterfall, you have to walk across the stream along the ledge…

… then squat down and walk (or crawl) along the edge of this low-roofed cave (think of it as an overhang that hangs over the other overhang).  This route takes you on around the “U”…

… to a point where you can look back and see the waterfall, as well as the cavern below it.

With a little rock scrambling (which will involve your hands, feet, and butt)…

… you can make it down, off the ledge.  I couldn’t find any trail here, and the growth is thick — so it would have been a big challenge to hike the short distance back up the hollow, to the cave behind the waterfall.

Since I didn’t find anything of interest on the ground level, I climbed back up to the ledge, squatted and walked back underneath the small cave, then carefully walked back across the stream.  I took a few minutes to relax by the edge of the water.  All was well in the world.

Then I tried to stand up.  I knew the rock was slimy and slippery, thanks to the steady stream of water that flowed over it.  So, I was being extra-careful to watch my step.  What I didn’t watch was my hiking stick, which hit a slick spot, and flew out from under me.  I splashed down — hard — in the water, landing on my arm, and soaking my shirt and jeans.  Of course, my first thought was, “where’s the camera?”.  Since I was ready to leave, I had secured it in my camera case, which was strapped around my waist.  I turned to look, to make sure the case had avoided the water — and it had.  My moment of “Whew!” only lasted about a second, though.

The belt snapped.  The case fell.  Then it rolled.  Towards the ledge.  The 50-foot ledge.  The ledge that dropped off into the thick brush.  In slow-motion, I saw it tumbling.  Then it stopped — with only about a foot to spare.

My frustration over being soaked with creek water and dirt was far outweighed by my thankfulness that I didn’t have to launch a rescue mission for my camera equipment.  I took a minute to settle my nerves, then made the hike back to the car.

The dirt road to the Hide-out Hollow trailhead is just as interesting as the trail itself.  The road passes by some rolling farmland…

… and a few old, abandoned houses and barns.

Occasionally, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the valleys and mountains nearby.

Once you’re back at the main road, continue heading south on Route 43.  At Ponca, the road runs into Route 21, for the drive through the beautiful Boxley Valley.

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