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Horseback Riding

There is no better place to enjoy the beautiful rugged landsape and breathtaking views from horseback then the Ouachita National Forest. Equestrians from across the nation visit for the adventure found only in the untouched wilderness.

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Irons Fork

Irons Fork Lake was built by the Soil Conservation Service for flood control and is a water supply lake for the city of Mena. The AGFC assumed fisheries management responsibility for the lake in 1979.

Irons Fork was accidentally drained in 1988 and later restocked by the AGFC with bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, catfish and crappie. The misfourtune turned out to be a large benefit for the sport fish population and anglers, because the low water also enabled the AGFC to place large tree shelters and fish attractors on the lakebed before it was refilled.

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John Be Crystals

Here you will find some of the biggest and best Arkansas Quatyz Crystal Specimens in the world. Take, for example, this one, which is the nicest largest cluster I have ever seen and the pride ANY museum, weighing 1,250 pounds measuring 3 feet by 3.5 feet and 32 inches tall, is $450,000.00. It is on display in the gallery in Tucson, AZ.

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Lake Hinkle

Lake Hinkle is located about 12 miles west of the town of Waldron in west central Arkansas. The 960-acre impoundment was completed in 1971 by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Some 400 of its acres lie within the Ouachita National Forest.

Fishing: Anglers enjoy the lake's diverse fishery, which includes largemouth, hybrid striped, white and spotted bass; bluegills; red-ear sunfish; crappie; and channel, blue, and flathead catfish.

The Game and Fish Commission provides a concrete boat ramp and primitive camping area on the lake's north side and two additional primitive camping areas on the west end. Also on the north side, a courtesy dock, 21 RV/tent campsites, a swimming area, picnic tables, hiking trails and other recreational facilities are available in the U.S. Forest Service's Little Pines Recreation Area. Bait shops by the lake provide fishing and camping supplies.

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Lake Quachita

Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita is known for its scenic natural beauty and the clarity of its waters. These pristine waters form the largest manmade lake within Arkansas's borders. Named one of the cleanest lakes in America, 40,000-acre Lake Ouachita is a water sports mecca for swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating, and fishing. Angling for bream, crappie, catfish, stripers, and largemouth bass can be enjoyed in open waters or quiet coves along the lake's 975 miles of shoreline.

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Lake Wilhelmina

Lake Wilhelmina (located in Polk County) is an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lake approximately 200 surface acres in size, constructed in 1958.The lake has a reputation for excellent bluegill and redear fishing. The commission maintains a concrete boat ramp on the southeast side of the lake. Primitive camping areas are located along the eastern side of the lake. An accessible wooden fishing pier is located on the southwest side of the lake. Lake Wilhelmina features a commission-owned caged fish operation raising rainbow trout (winter) and channel catfish (summer) for stocking Arkansas lakes.

Donivan Echols, 11, of Mena, broke the Arkansas record that had stood for 35 years, when he pulled-in a 5 pound crappie. His record catch took place on June 6, 2011.

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Mena Art Gallery

Mena Art Gallery is located in the small town of Mena, Arkansas, in the Ouachita Mountains.  The gallery supports individual and community involvement in the creative arts, and strives to inspire and serve all ages of artists. Many artists who have moved to the Mena Area from all over the world, bringing with them new ideas and fresh interpretations of art.

Mena Art Gallery provides workshops, seminars, field trips, classes, art shows, exhibits and more. Most years the gallery will host 12 different shows, many of which have entries open to all artists.

Visit the gallery every Tuesday from 10 am to 2 pm for our art day.

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Ouachita Little Theatre

Welcome to the Home Page of the Ouachita Little Theatre (OLT) the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 Arkansas Community Theater State Champions! We are the performing arts organization in the town of Mena, Polk County, in the Western Frontier of Arkansas.
OLT’s mission is to plan productions, recruit qualified directors, perform shows for children and adults and produce workshops in the theater arts. We also bi-annually bestow the Benson Award, named after the first President of the OLT, Leda Benson, to deserving performers or contributors to the organization’s growth.

OLT encourages the development and showcasing of local talent in children and adults and provides the venue for their talent to be spotlighted in its theater at 610 Mena Street in downtown Mena. We are also a venue for performances by the Mena High School Theater Arts Program, have a road company (OLT on the Road), and are available for rental for performances by other individuals and organizations.

For more information about OLT, acting, becoming a volunteer, renting the theater for your performance or event, or costume rental, visit the other pages in this website, call our information line at , or email us at . To order tickets for any performance, online, just click on the Buy Tickets button on any page in this website. For more information about tickets, see our Advance Ticket Orders page.

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Ouachita National Forest

The Ouachita National Forest is a vast 1.8 million acre mountainous forest and is the South’s largest national forest. The forest is noted for its picturesque scenery, clear lakes and rivers, waterfalls, natural springs, untouched wilderness and abundant wildlife. The Ouachitas offer numerous outdoor activities, including: 700 miles of trails; almost 6,000 miles of forestry maintained roads; recreation areas; wildlife management areas and wilderness areas. The Ouachitas are just waiting for you to explore the untouched beauty!

About the Forest

Ouachita National Forest was established in 1907 by President Roosevelt and was known as the Arkansas National Forest. The forest became known as the Ouachita National Forest on April 29, 1926. Hernando DeSoto was the first the first to explore the vast mountain range in 1541. The local Indians called the range “Washita” which meant “good hunting grounds”. The name “Ouachita” is the French spelling of this word and was widely accepted as the official name of the mountain range. The Ouachita Mountain Range is the only mountain range that runs east and west. The forest was originally only 589,973 acres in size today it totals 1,789,666 acres with 1,434,872 in Arkansas and 354,794 in Oklahoma. This rugged mountain landscape makes premier sightseeing and trails the focus of the forest. Seasonal flora, streams and lakes, wildlife, and pristine scenery set the stage for recreation experiences. Enjoy outstanding mountain views, picturesque streams, rivers, and lakes, Experience high quality nature-related sightseeing, camping, off-highway vehicle riding, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, non-motorized boating, and dispersed camping. Learn about the areas rich history at wayside exhibits along the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Visit our recreation pages to learn more about all of the outdoor recreation opportunities the Ouachita has to offer!

Recreation Trails

Hiking

The incredible scenery and terrain of the area offers great hiking opportunities for nature lovers. Beginners and expert hikers will find the perfect trail in our neck of the woods. Majestic waterfalls, protected wildlife areas, scenic overlooks and natural, untouched forests are just a few of the attractions in our outdoor adventures. Discover our local trails in the Ouachita National Forest and the local Arkansas State Parks.

Tips from the US Forest Service

Ouachita National Recreation Trail

Ouachita National Recreation Trail

This is the longest trail in the Ouachita National Forest spanning 192 miles across its entire length. There is so much to see on this trail, we gave it its own page! Click the link above.

Earthquake Ridge

Trail Map: Earthquake Ridge Trail Map

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail parallels the Talimena Scenic Byway is on the north and south sides of Rich Mountain.

The day hiker will view several interesting rock formations as well as a variety of plant and animal life. The trail system crosses the Talimena Scenic Byway twice.

Many mountain bikers find this trail system an exciting challenge. There are several loops that enhance this challenge.

Surrounding Area:

• Queen Wilhelmina State Park

• Blue Haze Vista

• Acorn Vista

• Ward Lake

• Talimena Scenic Drive

Orchard Trail

Trail Map: Orchard Trail Map

Difficulty: Easy

This accessible trail meanders through the picturesque pine and hardwood forest surrounding the Talimena Scenic Byway Visitor Information Station near Mena, AR. This short hike features the ruins of an abandoned home site with a viewing deck and benches. This trail and all site facilities allow easy access for all visitors including those physically challenged.

Surrounding Area:

• For an extended hike try the 2.8 mile Earthquake Ridge Hiking and Mountain Bike Trail beginning at the northwest side of the Visitor Information Station parking lot.

• Continue driving west on the Talimena Scenic Byway and enjoy the beautiful vistas from high mountain ridgelines and cultural treasures such as Rich Mountain Fire Tower and Pioneer Cemetery.

• The Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge at the top of Rich Mountain offers travelers a beautiful and historic place to spend the night or enjoy a tasty meal.

Queen Wilhelmina State Park Trails

For more information about Queen Wilhelmina State Park visit the official website at: Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Trails Map: Queen Wilhelmina State Park Trails Map

  • Lovers Leap Trail

    Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous

    This trail begins at the stairs on the north-east side of the lodge circle drive. The first 1/3 of the trail is a nice stroll along the north slope of Rich Mountain. With bridges, stairs and benches to rest on, you can easily make the gentle climb to the wooden overlook and be rewarded with a panoramic view of the south slope of Rich Mountain and Powell Valley.

    Beyond the overlook, the trail is a little more difficult due to elevation changes, rocky areas and steep slopes. Just past the overlook, the Ouachita National Recreation Trail turns left; this intersection is well marked. The Lover’s Leap Trail continues to the right at this junction. It descends along the south face of the mountain through the rich hardwood forest and back to the south side of the lodge. The climb up to the lodge may be strenuous.

  • Reservoir Trail

    Difficulty: Moderate

    This trail begins south of the lodge at the stairs, and continues 1/3 of a mile down the hill to a stone reservoir. The reservoir was part of the water system for the 1898 hotel. Just up the hill from the reservoir is an excellent spring that was said to have curative powers.

  • Spring Trail

    Difficulty: Easy

    Beginning behind the stage at the amphitheater, you’ll walk west 100 yards to the spring. This was a favorite gathering place for early mountain settlers and is still a great oasis of relaxation and reflection. The trail continues past the spring for about 1/2 mile and comes out on State Highway 88 across from the west end of the campground. You may return by the same trail, or cross the road into the park.

Shady Lake Trail

Trail Map: Shady Lake Trails Map

Difficulty: Easy

The 0.5 mile interpretive trail introduces basic facts about soil, rocks, and plants, describing the unique characteristics and various uses of 12 species of trees. Visitors who prefer a longer excursion will enjoy the 3.2-mile trail along the lakeshore.

Wolf Pen Gap Trail System

Trail Complex Map: Wolf Pen Gap Trail System

Difficulty: Easiest – Most Difficult

Featuring high mountain vistas, the trail leads the rider through an array of areas, including scenic Gap Creek and Board Camp Creek.

The trail continues through a forest of large pines and hardwoods before passing the unique 2-footed oak tree and an abandoned mine shaft.

The trail loops are connected to accommodate riders who want to vary the length of their trips.

Surrounding Area:

• Enjoy the beautiful scenery along the Cossatot Scenic and Recreational River.

• For an extended hike, there are 18 miles of hiking trails in the Caney Creek Wilderness.

• South of Caney Creek is the Shady Lake Recreation Area, which offers camping, fishing, swimming, boating and hiking at the campground.

Wilderness Areas

National Wilderness Areas

The Mena area hosts two of the six designated wilderness areas in Arkansas, and Caney Creek Wilderness Area is the largest designated wilderness in the state of Arkansas. Wilderness areas offer special opportunities to enjoy solitude or a primitive, unconfined type of recreation. No developed recreation facilities are found here and there are few, if any, signs to guide you. Mountain bikes, hang gliders, and motorized vehicles are not permitted.
Visitors willing to travel these rugged areas by foot or horseback will find a variety of settings in which to explore, discover,enjoy the solitude, scenic beauty, inspiration, primitive recreation, and natural ecosystems found here.You can help protect and preserve the unique wilderness characteristics for the enjoyment of this and future generations by practicing the
no-trace ethic, “tread lightly” and remember to “PACK IT IN AND PACK IT OUT.”

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness Area

Located 6 miles north of Mena on U.S. 270 is the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness Area.  Created by an act of Congress in 1984, the wilderness covers an area of 13,139 acres and is managed by the U.S. Forestry Service.
This infrequently visited wilderness follows the main ridge-line of Black Fork Mountain for 13 miles (21 km) which rises to more than 2,400 feet (731 m). Steep cliff sides provide sanctuary to groves of Dwarf Oak, Serviceberry and Granddaddy Greybeard (known as the fringe tree Chionanthus) which have a few unique species represented here.
Visitors should expect difficult hiking conditions and few sources for water as there are only two springs along the higher mountain slopes. Black bears are known to inhabit the wilderness, along with White-tailed deer, bobcat, skunk and Pheasant.
The wilderness contains extensive areas of unlogged, old-growth forest. Along the ridge of Black Fork Mountain are several thousand acres of stunted old-growth Post Oak, Shortleaf Pine, and Hickory.

Caney Creek Wilderness Area

Caney Creek Wilderness Area is the largest designated wilderness area in the State of Arkansas. At 14,460 acres, this area features: rugged, nearly untouched forests, scenic overlooks, flowing streams and hiking trails.
Many Recreation areas can be found in the Caney Creek Wilderness Area, including: Little Missouri Falls, Wolf Pen Gap, Alpert Pike, Crooked Creek Falls, the Blue Hole and many, many more. Hiking is also a popular draw to this area. The recreational opportunities are truly endless.

U.S. Wilderness Areas do not allow motorized or mechanized vehicles, including bicycles. Although camping and fishing are usually allowed with a proper permit, no roads or buildings are constructed and there is also no logging or mining, in compliance with the 1964 Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas also allow hunting in season.

Camping Areas

  • Two Spirits LTD

    Two Spirits LTD

    8 Air-conditioned camp cottages on the Ouachita River Note:  No Bedding provided,  Separate Shower and Restrooms Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner available with advance notice We also provide Camp Sites on the Banks of the Ouachita River.  4-6 Large Campsites-Suitable for large groups.  These are primitive sites with no water or electrical hookups. Have fun all day!  We'll do everything for you back at camp.  "We do the Whole Package"  All meals, Canoe and Camp Shelters Furnished. Ouachita River Float Trips

     

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  • Little Fir Landing

    Little Fir Landing

    Overnight RV Sites

    Marina with gas, ice, drinks and snacks. Boat slips and dry storage units available for rent, as well as outside storage. Overnight RV sites with water, sewer, electric with 50 amp breaker capacity. The Old Man and Ms. Eddie Lynn are always available if you need assistance in the RV Park. Fishing, boating, swimming and playing available all the time. Come see us and join our Little Fir Family.

     

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  • Wolfpen ATV Campground

    Wolfpen ATV Campground

    The place to be for the ATV enthusiasts. We accommodate your ATV experience with lodges, cabins, campsites. WolfPen Gap Trail System provides over 70 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult.

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  • Queen Wilhelmina State Park (camping)

    Queen Wilhelmina State Park (camping)

    A spectacular mountaintop setting. Breathtaking panoramic scenery. Royal hospitality. Queen Wilhelmina State Park is this, and more. The park’s crowning attraction is a renowned hostelry, a lodging tradition born with the original “Castle in the Sky” that graced this same lofty locale high above the Ouachita Mountains over 100 years ago. Today’s Queen Wilhelmina Lodge features 38 guest rooms including spacious Queen’s Rooms and royal Regent’s Rooms, fine Southern fare in the Queen’s Restaurant, and a treasure-filled gift shop. Park campsites, RV sites, trails and overlooks are a short walk from the lodge. Come experience this royal retreat high atop Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest peak. 

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  • Sugar Creek Lodge

    Sugar Creek Lodge

    Offering lodging and recreation such as ATV riding, horseback riding, canoeing & kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and fishing. We are only 1.5 miles from Wolfpen Gap. The Cossatot River runs through our property and the Caney Creek trail is only a couple of miles away.

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Back Roading

Discover the scenic back-country roads of the Ouachita National Forest! There are more than ten million sport-utility vehicles on the US highways, each designed for back country capabilities. But is is estimated that 90 percent of all sport-utilities never leave the pavement. Our question is, “What are you waiting for?”

The Mena Area offers some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the nation. When you drive through our national forest, you’ll explore remote areas and discover vistas only a handful of people are lucky enough to see each year. Be sure to pack some water and snacks along with your camera since our roads will take you far off the beaten path!

Download and print the US Forestry Motor Vehicle Use Map before you head out! This map is prepared to help guide your travels over hundreds of miles of roads through the National Forest land. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, these roads can be explored with just a four-wheel drive sport-utility or truck and a sense of adventure.

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Quartz Crystals Mining

Mt. Ida, Arkansas located in the heart of the Ouachita’s is the crystal capital of the world.  You will find dozens of quartz mines where you can dig to your heart’s content.  If don’t want to get our hands dirty rock shops abound in the area, where you can buy your crystals right off the shelf.

Rock Hounding

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Queen Wilhelmina State Park

One of the most popular local attractions can be found 13 miles northwest of downtown. Queen Wilhelmina State Park, also known as “The Castle in the Sky” attracts thousands to its majestic peak each year. Queen Wilhelmina is Mena’s crown jewel and is located just 13 miles northwest of town along Talimena National Scenic Byway. The majestic panoramic views from the Park are spectacular, and true to its name, makes guests feel like visiting royalty!

Must Sees at Queen Wilhelmina State Park:

 

Queen Wilhelmina Lodge

Since 1898, the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge has been known as “The Castle in the Sky”. The lodge was named in honor of the Queen of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, since the local railroad venture was financed largely by Dutch interest. The lodge was beautifully constructed from native stone and timber at a cost of $100,000. After being abandoned by the owners and left to deteriorate, the lodge was rebuilt in 1963. However, 10 years later in November of 1973, the lodge was destroyed by a devastating kitchen fire. Arkansas State Parks lost no time rebuilding the lodge and it again opened to visitors in 1975.

QueenWilLodge f smWithin walking distance of the lodge are the park’s campground with 41 sites and a modern bathhouse, a playground, the train engine, the park amphitheater, the Wonder House and hiking trails. Open seasonally are a min
iature train and mini-golf course (admission fees apply).

Mountain Glory Station

mountain glory station 2013 sm

Take a ride on the miniature train at the Mountain Glory Station and enjoy scenic views around Queen Wilhelmina State Park. This privately-operated concession is near park entrance. You can also play a round or two of miniature golf here, followed by a quick meal or snack. This concession is open seasonally from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

  • Open:     10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday); 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. (Sunday)
  • Closed:   Monday

Contact the Mountain Glory Station at 479-437-3331 for further information and to arrange group visits.

Hiking Trails

loversleap sm

Official Trails Map

Lovers Leap Trail
Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous 
This trail begins at the stairs on the north-east side of the lodge circle drive. The first 1/3 of the trail is a nice stroll along the north slope of Rich Mountain. With bridges, stairs and benches to rest on, you can easily make the gentle climb to the wooden overlook and be rewarded with a panoramic view of the south slope of Rich Mountain and Powell Valley.
Beyond the overlook, the trail is a little more difficult due to elevation changes, rocky areas and steep slopes. Just past the overlook, the Ouachita National Recreation Trail turns left; this intersection is well marked. The Lover’s Leap Trail continues to the right at this junction. It descends along the south face of the mountain through the rich hardwood forest and back to the south side of the lodge. The climb up to the lodge may be strenuous.

Reservoir Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
This trail begins south of the lodge at the stairs, and continues 1/3 of a mile down the hill to a stone reservoir. The reservoir was part of the water system for the 1898 hotel. Just up the hill from the reservoir is an excellent spring that was said to have curative powers.

trail sm
Spring Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Beginning behind the stage at the amphitheater, you’ll walk west 100 yards to the spring. This was a favorite gathering place for early mountain settlers and is still a great oasis of relaxation and reflection. The trail continues past the spring for about 1/2 mile and comes out on State Highway 88 across from the west end of the campground. You may return by the same trail, or cross the road into the park.

Ouachita National Recreation Trail
Official Trail Map
This is the longest trail in the Ouachita National Forest spanning 192 miles across its entire length. Paralleling portions of the 54-mile Talimena National Scenic Byway, the trail crests Winding Stair and Rich Mountains, opening a showcase of forested mountains and sweeping valleys. There is a trail-head on the Talimena Scenic Drive just past the west end of the Queen Wilhelmina State Park campground. Parking is available at the lodge.

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Real Earth Creations

Not just another rock and mineral shop. Some of the finest works of art are just beneath our feet in the naturally occurring crust of our home, the earth. Real Earth Creations offers a well lit showroom of rocks, minerals and fossils from the Mount Ida area, Arkansas and many other locations across the Americas and the world (even a few meteorite pieces not from this world). In addition to the many individual specimen displays we have an accumulated "pile" of nearly 30 tons of mixed collectible and lapidary quality rock that visitors are welcome to hunt through and purchase. The rock pile includes a wider variety of material than could be found in even the best natural conditions. It includes petrified wood, agatized coral, jaspers, aventurine, obsidian, fossils, amazonite and many others. Not to forget, we also spend a lot of our time cutting, shaping and polishing rocks for use in jewelry, collections or other purposes

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Talimena National Scenic Byway

The Talimena Scenic Drive offers you more than 50 miles of the most breathtaking vistas our states have to offer. Plus, surrounding the Talimena Scenic Drive, you will find historic gateway towns with open arms and outstanding events to fill your days. Particularly popular during the Autumn season, for its awesome colors, the drive is enjoyed by thousands each year.

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The Crystal Seen Trading Company

Owners: Dennis and Julie Kincaid

Visit our gift shop for a large selection of quality crystals, fossils and minerals from around the world, as well as hand-crafted jewelry, personalized gifts, crafts and souvenirs.

Dig your own crystals, minerals and gems in our 10 acre rockhounding mine! Crystal digging workshops and classes are available. Girl Scout and Boy Scout badges can be earned too.

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Turkey Track Bluegrass Park

Located in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains near Waldron, Arkansas, Turkey Track Bluegrass Park is one of the largest bluegrass festivals west of the Mississsippi. Bring the whole family and enjoy wholesome family entertainment! There are two festivals each year (June and October). Scheduled performances are held Wednesday through Saturday of each festival.

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