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Trails

Best Wet-Weather Hiking Trails with Waterfalls

Break out the rain boots and grab your umbrella: A heavy downpour is just the reason to explore some of the most exquisite waterfalls in the Ozarks.

By Jenna deJong

Apr 2020

Hemmed In Hollow Waterfall in Northwest Arkansas
Photo by Jeff RoseHemmed-In Hollow is the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains.

Hemmed-In Hollow 

This waterfall is for the fearless. The 5-mile round trip starts off nice and easy: practically the whole first part of the trip is downhill as you trek deeper in the forest. The starting point is at Compton Trailhead in northwest Arkansas, and it’s crucial that you take your time down the steep terrain, especially after a slippery rainfall. The payoff is the tallest waterfall between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountain ranges. The heavier the previous rainfall, the heavier the waterfall, so plan to go after a particularly robust downpour. Snacks and water are crucial, as is taking a break when needed. The easy downhill stroll to the waterfall becomes a strenuous, uphill climb back to the trailhead.

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

Head south to Branson and check out the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area, specifically the Shane’s Shortcut trail. The area was formerly owned by Kansas City locals Paul and Ruth Henning, who frequently traveled to the Ozarks for vacation. The family donated 1,534 acres to the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1981. Now visitors get to explore the 5.7-mile loop composed of four trails: Streamside Trail, Glade Trail, Homesteaders Trail and Shane’s Shortcut Trail. About a mile in is when hikers reach the half-mile stretch of Shane’s Shortcut Trail, which is where the series of small waterfalls and cascades are located. 

Devil’s Icebox Spring Falls 

Consider this your best chance to visit Roaring River State Park. The Devil’s Icebox Spring Falls is 90 feet tall and flows from the spring. It doesn’t flow often, so after a heavy downpour is your best chance to see it live in action. It’s located along Deere Leap Trail and comes out of a small cave opening, just above the larger cave spring, says Joel Topham, natural resource manager for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources State Parks. Topham says the best viewing area is from the lower section at the cave spring opening, which can be accessed through the hatchery. Note that there are no benches in this area.

More Wet-Weather Waterfalls

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Whether you get there by car, by canoe, or on your own two legs, these gorgeous waterfalls in the Ozarks are worth the trek.