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.

INFORMATION

 

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (The LOViT)

The Lake Ouachita Vitsta Trail (LOViT) is a well-designed and well-built trail on 90 percent singletrack through old growth, mixed species forest. It offers riders multiple challenges and rewards as it traverses deep verdant valleys and five different mountains, while crossing multiple steams and creeks. Two of these streams utilize innovative, large boulder crossings that offer technical challenge for riders.

The first 10 miles are rolling, moderately challenging tread designed for all skill groups from beginners to competitors. The final 35 miles challenge the best and reward all with great ascents and thrilling descents. Each section has its own character that constantly pushes riders to stay on the trail while offering a constantly changing riding environment.

The trail challenges with it’s multiple, steep switchbacks both ascending and descending the mountains. The LOViT rolls through a designated Roadless National Forest known for its variety of wildlife species from wild turkey to black bear, and a wide variety of forest plant life. Finally, this ride offers multiple elevated views of Lake Ouachita’s crystal-clear waters, all nestled in the Ouachita National Forest. A ride on the LOViT is a riders dream in any season.

Ride Time: 7-8 hours

Access and Lodging: The trail’s easy accessibility includes thirteen trailheads with parking along its 45-mile route. Also available are nine campgrounds and six lakeside resorts for riders planning extended stays or bike packing trips.

Driving Directions to West Trailhead: Drive east approximately 11 miles from Mount Ida, AR, on US 270 to Shangri La Road. Turn left go one block. Turn left onto Old Highway 270. Go one mile road ends at trailhead.

Driving Directions to East Trailhead: Drive west from Hot Springs, AR, on US 270 to Arkansas Highway 227 N. Turn right and go 6 miles to Blakely Mt. Dam Road. Turn left and go three miles to the Avery Recreation Area access road on left. Turn left and go one block to trailhead on right.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://visitouachitas.com/recreation/hiking#sigProId66e23fa4ef

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.

Big Brushy Trail Complex

Trail Map: Big Brushy Trail Complex Map

Difficulty: More Difficult

Brushy Mountain, Mountain Top, Rockhouse and Brushy Creek Trails, combined with the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, allow many opportunities for loop-trail hiking and biking, ranging from 3 to 12 miles in length.

Travelers may see flowing streams, waterfalls, geologic formations, and quiet woodlands along the trail. The trails may be reached from parking and camping areas at the Big Brushy Campground.

Except for Brushy Mountain Trail, all trails in the Big Brushy Complex are open to hiking and mountain bikes.

Brushy Mountain Trail is open to foot traffic only.

Other Opportunities:

Special areas near the Big Brushy Trail Complex include:

• Big Brushy Campground

• Blowout Mountain Scenic Area

• Ouachita National Recreation Trail

Big Fork Trail

Trail Map: Big Fork Trail Map

Difficulty: Most Difficult

Rather than running east to west along creek beds like other trails on the Caddo Ranger District, this trail runs north to south across the mountains.

Crossing eight mountains, the trail is considered extremely strenuous. Trail features include spectacular views of the Ouachita Mountains from such high points as Eagle Rock Vista, Brushheap Mountain and Hurricane Knob. A mystical cave, located 35 feet below the trail on the south side of Brushy Mountain and a geologic outcropping, located 150 feet south of the highest point on Brushy Mountain, add to the hiker’s experience.

Surrounding Areas:

• Shady Lake Recreation Area, a well developed camping and day use area, offers swimming, camping, picnicking, hunting and fishing opportunities.

• For a more primitive camping experience try Bard Springs Recreation Area.

• The Little Missouri Hiking Trail, Viles Branch Equestrian/Hiking Trail and the Eagle Rock Loop connect with this trail at the north and south ends.

Black Fork Mountain Trail

Trail Map: Black Fork Mountain Trail Map

Difficulty: More Difficult

Trail Highlights: The trail offers beautiful panoramic views in every direction. A day hiker or an overnight backpacker may enjoy spectacular views of Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Rich Mountain Fire Tower and the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The trail traverses historic sites dating from the late 1800s to 1940 where pioneers once settled. The trail also features unusual geology and vegetation.

The trail leads you into Black Fork Mountain Wilderness – a place for solitude and primitive recreation.

Please hike in small groups of less than 10 people.

Surrounding Areas:

• Rich Mountain Fire Tower

• Rich Mountain Botanical Area

• Talimena Scenic Drive

• Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Caney Creek Wilderness Trail

Trail Map: Caney Creek Wilderness Trail Map

Difficulty: More Difficult

Trail Highlights: Caney Creek Trail generally follows the Caney Creek drainage. The trail crosses Blaylock Creek, Caney Creek, Katy Creek and the Cossatot River for a total of 13 stream crossings which are subject to flash flooding during heavy rain.

Vegetation types, which occur along the creek, include beech tree stands, large pines and bottom land hardwoods.

Buckeye Trail generally follows a ridge offering many vistas before winding down to the Caney Creek Trail.

Tall Peak Trail is a steep rugged trail once you leave the Saline River. It begins in Shady Lake

Recreation Area but can also be accessed from Forest Service Road 38. Look for large granite rocks about 1.8 miles north of Shady Lake Recreation Area entrance.

These trails lead into a 14,460 acre congressionally designated wilderness – a place for solitude and primitive recreation.

Other Opportunities:

• Caney Creek Wilderness

• Valuable Forest Trail

• Athens Big Fork Trail

• Shady Lake Recreation Area

Cossatot River State Park Trails

For more information about Cossatot River State Park

Visit the official site at: Cossatot River State Park

Cossatot River – Brushy Creek Nature Trail

Trail Map: Brushy Creek Nature Trail Map

Difficulty: Easy

This trail begins in the parking lot of the Brushy Creek Recreational Area off of Hwy. 246, 8 miles east of Vandervoort, AR. The trail follows along a ridge top that overlooks the confluence of Brushy Creek and the Cossatot River. The trail also features a guided tree trail where visitors can learn about the different species of trees of southwest Arkansas and their uses. Also featured on this trail is a steel walkway that spans the river and offers barrier-free access from the west side parking lot. This walkway also allows visitors to walk from the west side of the river to the east side parking lot where both picnic grounds and a swimming area are located.

Cossatot River – Waterleaf Interpretive Trail

Trail Information: Waterleaf Interpretive Trail Map

Difficulty: Easy

The Waterleaf Interpretive Trail has ¼ loop that is ADA accessible and is located just east of the VIC parking lot. The ADA section has wayside exhibits to assist visitors with their understanding of this area. The second section of the trail (not ADA accessible) leads off the North Slope for ¼ mile to the Highway 278 access. Excellent example of forest types found along north slopes in the Ouachita Mountains.

Cossatot River – Harris Creek Trail

Trail Map: Harris Creek Trail Map

Difficulty: Moderate

The Harris Creek Trail is located off of Hwy. 278, approximately 9 miles east of Wickes, AR. This trail features easy to moderately difficult walking that passes through six different habitats that range from a dry open shale pit to a mature shortleaf pine/hardwood forest. Half way through the trail there is an overlook that offers a spectacular view of the Cossatot River as it winds its way through the Ouachita Mountains.

The 3-mile-long Harris Creek Trail is scenic, and sections of the trail are rugged and steep. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing and carry water. Please take only pictures and leave only footprints.

Cossatot River – River Corridor Trail

Trail Information: River Corridor Trail

Difficulty: Most Difficult

The River Corridor Trail head is located off of Hwy. 246, approximately 8 miles east of Vandervoort, AR. This trail is 14 miles long and a linear trail that winds its way through some of the roughest, yet most scenic, terrain found in the Ouachita Mountains. The trail is broken up into sections according to the river access areas. Plan for approximately six-eight hours per leg. This trail is excellent for backpacking, but park management asks that hikers limit their camping to the access areas, (Ed Banks, Sandbar, Cossatot Falls and Hwy. 278 Access Area.) Parking is available at each of the access areas if you do not wish to hike the entire trail. Along the way you will observe many wonderful views of the river corridor and its geological features. The terminus for this trail is the Hwy. 278 Access Area.

Eagle Rock Loop

Trail Map: Eagle Rock Loop Trail Map

Difficulty: Varies

This trail offers the longest loop trail in Arkansas. The trail is 26.8 miles – 2 to 3 days travel time one way. A combination of the Little Missouri, the Athens-Big Fork and part of the Viles Branch Horse Trail, this trail travels through the southwestern portion of the Ouachita National Forest. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to most difficult. The trail has numerous river, stream and creek crossings and travels over nine mountains.

Surrounding Area:

• Albert Pike Recreation Area, a well developed camping area, offers swimming, camping, and fishing opportunities. No horses.

• Little Missouri Falls, a forested picnic area, offers fishing and a trail to a waterfall overlook.

• Bard Springs – a 17-unit campground (no utilities) on a scenic stream. No horses.

• Shady Lake Recreation Area, another well-developed recreation area on a small scenic lake that offers swimming, camping and fishing opportunities. No horses.

• For more hiking experiences in the area try the Caney Creek Trails. Horses allowed.

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.

Fourche Mountain Trail

Trail Map: Forche Mountain Trail Map

Difficulty: Easy – Most Difficult

The Fourche Mountain Trail (formerly Mill Creek Equestrian Trail) offers breathtaking views of Fourche Mountain and Buck Knob. Beautiful streams and several spectacular views of the Ouachita Mountains are among the trail sites.

While this trail network provides horseback riding opportunities, it also offers day hiking, mountain biking, ORV and motorcycle riding.

Little Missouri Trail

Trial Map: Little Missouri Trail Map

Difficulty: More Difficult

This trail winds along a portion of the Little Missouri River, a designated wild and scenic river. Cascading waterfalls, stately hardwoods, old-growth pine stands, wildlife, and seasonal leaf colors are just a few of the natural delights awaiting hikers. One of the most scenic areas, the “Winding Stairs” area, offers breathtaking views of the forest, river, and large novaculite rock outcrops.

This trail is fairly level with a few steep inclines. It crosses the Little Missouri River eight times and Crooked, Brier, Long, and Blaylock creeks once. Hikers should be careful when crossing streams. Rocks in streams can be slick and high water is dangerous after rain storms.

Surrounding Area:

• Camp, picnic, and swim at Albert Pike Recreation Area.

• Enjoy the solitude and the hunting opportunities of the Caney Creek Wilderness Area.

• For more trail adventure try Athens-Big Fork or Eagle Rock Loop Hiking Trails.

Serendipity Trail

Trail Map: Serendipity Trail Map

Difficulty: Easiest

The Serendipity Interpretive Trail highlights the different layers of the forest through interpretive signs. Placed throughout the trail, the signs tell the story about the plants and animals that make their home within the wildflower garden, pond and the forest, in general.

This hiking trail was established in 1990 with the assistance of the Oden Woods and Water Club and the Youth Conservation Corps. Both groups helped to restore the trail in 2007-2008. We hope you’ll enjoy the new changes!

The trail is open all year, and is exceptionally pleasant in the spring and fall.

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.

Viles Branch Equestrian Trail

Trail Map: Viles Branch Equestrian Trail Map

Difficulty: Hiking – Easy to Most Difficult; Horseback – Difficult

View the designated Wild and Scenic Little Missouri River through the Winding Stairs area.

This area is known for its unique geological formations and outstanding water features.

The most popular segment of the trail is from the Winding Stairs area to Shady Lake. Many hikers use a 4-mile section connecting the Little Missouri Trail to the Athens-Big Fork Trail.

This trail consists of a 19.4 mile-loop with a 3.3-mile section. Part of the route travels along Forest Roads 38 and 106. The remainder of the route travels an old road that is no longer open to motor vehicle traffic.

Surrounding Area:

• Albert Pike Recreation Area, a well developed camping area, offers swimming, camping, and fishing opportunities.

• Little Missouri Falls, a forested picnic area, offers fishing and a trail to a waterfall overlook.

• For more hiking experiences in the area try the Little Missouri or the Athens-Big Fork Trail.

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.

Womble Trail

Trail Map: Womble Trail Map

Difficulty: Easy – Most Difficult

The Womble Trail stretches over 37 miles from Northfork Lake to the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. This trail is considered one of the best single track trails in this area.

Short segments of the trail meander along the bluffs of the Ouachita River providing breathtaking views. Hikers and mountain bikers can combine the Roundtop Trail with the Womble and Ouachita National Recreation Trail (west of Highway 27) to form an 8-mile loop.

Note: The adjacent section of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail is open to mountain bikes from the Talimena Scenic Drive east of Queen Wilhelmena State Park east to the trailhead on Highway 7, north of Jessieville, Arkansas. See page 3 of 3 for an overview of the combined trails.

Surrounding Area:

Visitors can use the short spur trails to access three float camps located along the south shore of the Ouachita River:

• Rocky Shoals Float Camp (0.3-mile spur)

• Fulton Branch Float Camp (0.3-mile spur)

• River Bluff Float Camp (1.6-mile spur)

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