dogs on leash
This is a trail that is very close to home for me, so I've been on it countless times. This is a good loop for how close to home it is, but if you're coming from far away, there are better trails. There is really only one scenic point on the loop. Going clockwise, the section after the vista is nice. There aren't any amazing views, but you get a nice, easy hike across the mountain to the OT intersection.
Like someone else stated, this is much more than the map shows. I did a chunk of the LOViT yesterday from the dam (the Far East) to the overlook about 5 miles east of Crystal Springs and back. A nice hike. Definitely a MTB trail, but still a good hike. From Brady Mt. Crystal Springs along the ridge of Bear Mountain is awesome. You can see the lake through the trees the entire time as you hike the length of the ridge.
Beautiful trail. Did it back in early September. We went clockwise from a parking lot near Little Missouri Falls. Took two nights and really enjoyed ourselves. We started where we did because we were concerned about water levels at the time -- but we able to cross no problem with water shoes. There are some spots where the trail is difficult to find/follow when you cross water, so be aware of that. There are lots and lots of blazers along most of the trail, so make sure you are still seeing them! Around Albert Pike, there's a spot that it's really easy to lose the trail - you'll come out of the woods, cross a road, and naturally think you should directly head back into the woods. You'll do that and might not find the trail immediately -- but it is there! Head towards the left once you've crossed back into the woods after the road to find the blaze. Don't come back out/cross the bridge -- just keep looking for blazes.
Tick spray and make sure if you bring dogs they are treated for ticks! There were a lot when we went. All in all, a beautiful and challenging experience!
This trail is fabulous! We started Monday, 10/17/16, at the Upper Little Missouri trailhead going counterclockwise. This was a good call because we got the more rigorous climbs out of the way. Day one was short, we hiked 5 miles to the West Blaylock trailhead and camped. Next day we saw no people and made it to Albert Pike but the entire recreation area was closed, like a ghost town, camping not allowed, so we found a flat spot just outside the Albert Pike day use sites, right by the water, to camp...and hoped it didn't rain since the area has a history of deadly flash floods! Next day we finished the loop. This trail is gorgeous, lots of water available so we thankfully never had to carry more than 1 liter each. I noticed you never have to hike more than about a mile to get to a good camping spot...most of which have fire pits, if you're into that. The loop has a variety of terrain, lots of water crossings/rock hopping (water shoes are nice but we crossed most in bare feet), strenuous climbs, spiders, squirrels, deer, frogs, and one black snake! Damn, we did not meet the Beagle!! We encountered fallen trees blocking parts of the trail but scanning for blazes in the direction you're traveling will keep you on track. This trail was a lot harder than I expected but well worth it!
The scenery was awesome!!! One spot around winding stairs we had a little trouble finding the blazes due to some recent flooding... camped on eagle rock... perfect campsite... really had a blast... started Friday morning and ended Saturday night.... we were super tired, I would advise to have water shoes to change into on a couple of spots so you can keep dry feet... the water was low in most spots but where it was up it was tough to cross
Despite not having been backpacking or camping in over 25 years, a close friend and I decided that the Eagle Rock Loop was a great place to get back into it.
We drove up from Houston on Friday and arrived about 3pm. We had been watching the forecast carefully and had initial plans to go counter clockwise starting at the Little Missouri Falls Trailhead. Unfortunately rain, possibly heavy rain had been forecast and we decided that it might be best to do the deeper crossings before rain came in, so we started at the Winding Stairs trailhead and went clockwise.
Between the trailhead and winding stairs there had been a lot of high water recently with the trail heavily obscured in run of from the high water. Add that to our VERY rusty map reading skills and we decided to cross over the river too early and follow the other bank. Prior to the bend before winding stairs we got straightened out and crossed back over to the proper side of the river and found the path again. Winding stairs was absolutely beautiful late in the day. We made the crossing at the end of winding stairs and set up camp for the night. Lots of well developed sites, we chose on that was clear and had a nice fire ring near the water. As the sun set the warmth was sucked out of the world and it dropped into the low 30s. We took some time starting a fire as there had been snow a few days before and everything was very wet. Regardless this first night had us feeling very elated and alive.
The second day started off with clouds slowly coming in. We progressed down the trail often having areas covered with runoff material from the prior high water, sometimes piles of timber that were over 8 feet tall. Just prior to the crossing at Viles branch we stopped at about 10am and caught several trout though we released everything due to bad timing to stop and eat or stay longer. There was a lot of overgrowth initially starting up Viles Branch. As we progressed up the valley it began to rain steadily. With the numerous little creek crossings we were often rock hopping rather than switching to water shoes. About the third one I took a little jump, slipped and landed full force on the corner of a rock directly with my full body weight. The point of impact was my left shin bone, almost exactly where I had fractured it a year and a half prior. Needless to say I was a lot more careful and in a fair bit of pain.
As the day wore on the rain grew heavier, and the turn up the Athens Big Fork and the climbs were brutal. Cloud cover came in very low and we quickly found ourselves in the clouds, with rain, fogginess and dropping temperatures. After climbing several ridges and passing Eagle Rock Vista we had begun shivering and having real trouble, and settled into the next valley with a creek to camp by 4pm. As we set up camp we both huddled in our tents trying to warm up. After 2.5 hours we were warmed up and in dry clothes, but realized that between the weather, temperature and my painful and heavily swollen left leg we were needing to finish the trip. No fire this night either, rain all night long with everything obscured by clouds.
Wake up on days 3 we agreed to hump it out, we estimated about 16-17 miles to get to the truck. After eating we began climbing and descending ridges in ankle deep mud with temps still in the 40s to low 50s. Our gear had soaked massive amounts of water and packs were extremely heavy.
Over the next 8 hours we operated in a numb state of mind just pushing forward with everything we had, my left leg had swollen to the point that I knew I had fractured my tibia again. While the crossings on the Little Missouri were not deep, they were very treacherous with huge amounts of rapidly flowing water. We managed the ~16 miles to Albert Pike, with most water crossings just done in our boots/trail shoes rather than changing to water shoes.
I recall sitting down, and eating a large piece of summer sausage like an apple with my buddy. I had taken the lead and pushed him hard, he was having a lot more trouble than I was. Fortunately another gentleman was heading out and my buddy flagged him down for a ride to our truck to cover the last mile or so.
The lessons learned from this is be wary of over confidence. We were in good to great shape but we got our butts kicked. Doing about 25 miles in mixed terrain, adverse weather, and carrying too much in 16 hours of hiking time was a bit much for amateurs. I carried too much, and being 230+ and 6'+ i had to carry larger sleeping bag an tent, but even then I carried too much. I had a 42lb pack to start, and after water soak was about 70lbs. Doing that on a fractured leg for 16 miles was torture. Future trips have had less clothing, no cotton clothing, more calorie dense food, and some gear left out that was less essential.
All this being said, this was one of the greatest vacations of my life. I am eager to return, not to do the whole loop, but I want
Hiked the OT-BST-OMR Loop Trail counterclockwise starting from Talimena State Park on October 7 & 8. Due to my work schedule and the 4 hour drive to the state park, we were unable to hit the trial until 2:15pm. We left the park and hiked the Ouachita Trail portion first because 1) it's the hardest, and 2) I have hiked this section repeatedly and am very familiar with it. We pushed hard but with plenty of stops to take pictures since my hiking buddy had never been on the Ouachita Trail. Reaching the BST junction on the eastern portion of the loop near dark, we pressed eastward down the Ouachita Trail an additional .7 mile (OT mile 9.4) to spend the night at the Rock Garden Shelter. The shelter was a welcome relief since I had worked the night before and was physically and mentally exhausted after being awake for 28 hours. We woke the next morning and after warming ourselves around the fire and consuming a big breakfast we hiked back to the BST junction and dropped into Holson Valley at 8:15am. Never having hiked the BST, I was pleasantly surprised at how different is was from the Ouachita Trail. A soft bed of pine needles covered the trail and the rocks which are an ever-present trip hazard on the OT were much less prevalent. Downhill of course is always faster and we made good time on our descent into the valley. Once down in the valley however the rocky nature of the Ouachita Mountains resurfaced as there are many creek crossings where walking across football to softball sized rocks is required. The creeks were all dry however, and the only concern was sure footing to lessen the risk of a twisted ankle. The trail was very well marked, but with some blazes faded almost to the point of invisibility. I personally like this however. A trail can definitely be over-blazed. At no point did we feel "lost" or have to search for the trail. We met three other backpackers, all hiking solo, as we moved through the valley. Each of them had opted to hike the trail clockwise. To each his own i guess. I prefer getting the hard stuff out of the way while my legs and knees are still fresh. We crossed a dirt forest service road several times and I made a note as to each of their locations so I can cache water/food at these spots on our next trip. As I've mentioned, the creeks were dry and we had to carry all our water. The trail began to become more rocky and overgrown as we continueed our trek back up the mountain on the Old Military Road trail. It is awe-inspiring to realize that this trail, built in 1832 with pick and shovel, once carried wagons and settlers into what was then Indian Territory. The US Army workers who built the road were paid an extra portion of whiskey and 15 cents a day for the backbreaking work of building the road. A humbling experience to so easily walk up the trail that so many worked so hard to create. We crossed the Scenic Drive and began the final return to the State Park, arriving there at 5:45pm. The stretch of trail between the Scenic Drive and the OT is initially very steep and has a very "goat trail" feel to it. Right after crossing a deep gully (with a log across it bearing a white arrow blaze) we happened upon a small camp site that we decided was a waiting point in times of high water in the creek below. The ashes in the campfire were still warm, but we never saw another person in the area. We finished up the trail in almost complete silence, both from exhaustion and from the realization that the trip would soon be over and it would be back to the real world Monday. No matter. I've already planned another trip back to the OT-BST-OMR Loop for next month. It's that good.
This trail was great. The elevation was not too hard for a nice stroll through the forest. In a few more weeks the fall colors here will be extravagant. I don't want to take anything away from this trail because it was exciting, however, I give this trail three stars because it is poorly marked. The trail is great, but gives a visitor no instructions. It does not give any details about the trail or joining trails. After I finished hiking East Caney Creek trail, I found the forest service sign saying that it was the buckeye trail, while at the road it says it was the East Caney Creek. I was then totally confused, So after further research to figure out which trail I had hiked, I realize that this was a combination of trails. I am surprised that I did not get lost. We took this trail to see the waterfall but could not find it, because I did not research it up front and the trail has no information when you get there or phone signal. Hopefully, you read all the comments on here and plan from there. Lesson learned, now I want to go back and do the whole thing.
First time completing the full loop. We started out on a Friday night around 6pm hiked 3 miles going counter clockwise from mine creek road. Next day we hiked around 15 mikes stopping by the Albert Pike camp site to take a shower before setting up camp. Last day we hiked 12 miles. I would never try the loop in the summer it's a tough hike. We showed the trail as 28.9 miles so be prepared for a couple extra miles.
Don't go unless you feel like getting lost for hours. It started off good, until we lost the trail. We eventually just went up stream and found loop "L". Then we were able to find our car from there. It was horrible experience, that left us dehydrated and exhausted. We walked 12 plus more miles than we planned.
This trail is solid. I have completed it three times, each with different groups of people. I recommend 2 days to break it up, and allow for as much flex in time as possible. There are plenty of trailheads to start from, but be conscious of water and that the best camping is on the eastern half of the loop.
We did this in a day, on 9/25/16. Clockwise from little mo falls trail head, setting out at 6:25 am. Be sure to respect the climb on the back half of the loop/park. I wouldn't recommend hiking it until colder weather as the paths are terribly over grown and loaded with thorns/chiggers.
Make sure your legs are ready for this, also. If you're worried about it, go counter clockwise from Little Mo. We were on target to finish in time to get back to Dierks and eat at Kenya's going into lunch at athen's big fork trail head. THEN legs got weak, and water scarce. We didn't finish until 9:30pm!
lesson learned. Respect the trail. She's a beauty
I ran a 6.4 mile stretch of this trail out and back, and had run portions of it other times, and let me tell you it is a wonderful trail. It has its climbs because you are running high in the hills of the Ouchita, but past the initial climb, it is a relatively flat/rolling trail, narrowly hugging the ridgeline of these scenic hills. I ran the section that starts from the Ouachita River. Highly recommended if in the area!
This trail is my absolute favorite. I've completed the entire loop once and it was a true life changer. I've since then been back several times for day hikes and over night packs. This trail can become very difficult to follow in some areas, just keep moving in the right direction and another marker will pop up (which is extremely relieving.) There are numerous water crossings, so bring water shoes and don't plan on attempting this trail in heavy rains, it is prone to flooding. A massive flood in 2010 took several lives. The loop is made up of several trails but they are not specifically marked. The entire loop is tagged with white paint. If you do plan on doing the whole loop, start at Little Missouri/Athens Big Fork trailhead and go counter clockwise. You'll get the hardest part of the trail done and over with! Pack lightly but pack plenty! Any pack over 30lbs is going to give you a tough time and make the journey less enjoyable. Invest in a jet boil and water purification tablets. If your looking for a portion of this trail to check out for the day- definitely recommend going to the Winding Stairs or Little Missouri Falls. The Winding Stairs is where I sighted the beagle everyone keeps talking about.. He's chill. Those who choose the path less traveled- you will be rewarded with the incredible views on ABF. I'm here to help if anyone has questions or concerns I will do my best to answer them. You can shoot a text to 9039080407 Good luck!
**here is a link to a video from out October hike**