Eagle Rock Loop is a 25.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Caddo Gap, AR that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and fishing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Glenwood area: There are 5 trailheads. (1.) Albert Pike Recreation Area off Highway 369. ( 2.) Little Missouri Falls on Forest Road 25. (3.) 4 miles west of Little Missouri Falls on Forest Road 25. (4. &5.) east of Bard Springs Recreation Area on Forest Road 106.
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
Great trail. Beautiful scenery. Total carthisis while on the trail.
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
Do it, but not in the summer. Plenty of water available except in hill section. Amazing hike.
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.
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
This is a special trail, people. I have completed 7 times. Best during Winter.
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**
My brother and I did this trail Labor Day weekend. It was pretty rough on us but we had a lot of fun. This was our first backpacking trip and we learned a lot. Like climbing hills with overstuffed packs is hard work. And too much food isn't always a good thing.
Also. Be careful out there especially going over Alberts Pike. The trail markers are few and far between in the southern end of the Little Missouri trial. There are a lot of trails that have been made in addition to the main loop trail and we got lost on the mountain top. We discovered some beautiful views and the Window Cave but we ran out of water in the process. Eventually we found our way back to the trail and continued on but it took a lot out of us.
I read about the wild Beagle mentioned below and I wanted to confirm that he's still out there doing exactly what other reviewers described. Looking healthy and barking at who knows what. He followed us on our last day all the way back to the truck and laid down in the grass as we drove off.
This was my second time (April 2016)to hike eagle rock loop... First was a winter hike December 2015 which you can see my review (it was awesome). This time was a completely different story. 5 of us started out Thursday at 1 pm hitting the trail counter clockwise from Little Missouri Falls. Weather was amazing and we crammed 8 miles the first day. We set up camp (hammock Camping) ate dinner built a fire, chatted a bit, then went to sleep. BAMMM!!!!! 4 am Massive lightening and Thunder pounded the side of the mountain. We camped near blaylock creek. We jumped up threw on our ponchos and thought we would ride it out. Literally lightening striking all around us INTENSE. Then comes the hail. Biggest hail was half dollar size (it pelted us for an hour) This day the mountains had record rainfall. We endured the storms one after another for 15 hours. The creek was now a raging river. At 9 am we decided to continue hiking but right before Bushnob mountain we were met with a treacherous river crossing. After realizing death was Imminent we decided to turn back. We hiked through rain lightening and hail (possible tornado) for hours. We finally at 6 pm made it to FR 106 than ran 4.5 miles to Little Missouri Trail head jumped in the car and took off. Everyone survived. Oh yeah on our way back we had to build a rope bridge out of our hammock straps and use to cross the river that was raging. Please Please check and monitor the weather before hitting this trail as it can be life or death. It was death for one of my trecking poles that was swept away. If you want any tips or just have questions about it feel free to text or call me... 405-201-5869 We will be back on the trail in October.
Did this hike in April, weather was perfect, up hills were a bit tough for me carrying a 40lb ruck but would definitely do it again. Plenty on water sources the whole way. Spent two nights three days on the trail
Great trail. did three days two nights starting at the little Missouri falls th going ccw. the highlight of the trip is going down mckinley mountain. I camped after the brush heap mountain. tough first day. those ridges are very hard on your legs. Water level was crazy low. only had two boots off crossings. I remember there were many more on my last trip out here. camped just before getting to albert Pike area. met up with the dog talked about below. He followed me for almost the entire day on day three. I tried to coax him into my car to take him home with me, but he just wouldn't let me near enough to him. cute dog. hope he gets a home!
my only complaint is the trash out there left by others. seriously disappointing to see so much garbage. lots of it looks like stuff people just didnt want to pack anymore. and some stuff looks like it was left by car campers, things like chairs and stuff. I wish people were more respectful.
Overall another great trip to Arkansas and the Ouachita mountains. I'll be back for more again.
Started on June 15 and finished on the 18th. I hiked counter clockwise from Albert Pike. Issues with trail:
1) Poorly marked trail spots (as stated before by other hikers). I lost the trail on 3 occasions. I can't explain how frustrating it is to back track and hunt for tree markings. I wanted to stop off at the Ranger's station and donate a can of white paint and a brush so they could sort this issue out.
2) Ticks, sooo many Ticks. Bring spray. Those little bastards actually jump off of trees. I was a fool in this regard and spent my early evenings plucking heaps of ticks off me each night. Black ticks, brown ticks, red ticks, and a white tick! Holy smokes.
The Feral Dog on the Trail.
Has anyone encountered the wild Beagle? I kid you not, there is a wild hunting dog that lives on the trail. If you feed him he follows you for ages. At times, he will catch a sent and run off barking only to return hours later. This little bugger spent 1 1/2 days with me. I thought he was my spirit animal until he ran off only to be seen later in the day with another hiking couple. I felt used. (The couple already had a name for him and everything).
I'm from Colorado and figured the Arkansas foothills would be a cake walk. I was wrong. There are no switchbacks thus, the direct B-Line path up the ridge is strenuous. Especially when doing 6 in a row. I injured my knee on this part.
Deer, snake, frogs, Owls, racoon, squirrels, and a Beagle
Finished loop today Wed. June 8 around noon. Started Monday June 6 around 9:30, at ABF-Little Missouri trailhead traveling counterclockwise. ABF VERY challenging, especially with heavy pack (45 lbs). Took no side trips to vistas on ABF. Viles Branch easy then moderate from Winding Stairs area to Albert Pike. Little Missouri Trail easy to moderate. Made camp 1 at WS around 7. Long hard day. Late start on second day around 11 then made camp 2 just past the Little Missouri Falls parking area near the old concrete bridge again around 7. Only 4 miles from there back to start. Saw no snakes or bears or any wildlife other than lizards and squirrels but watch out for coons. Hang all food well. Trail fairly well marked but seems to be marked really well in obvious places and then vaguely at confusing spots. Be careful after winding stairs. The main trail goes left along the river then crosses but there is another trail going straight or slightly right that crosses further upstream. This avoids a steep, narrow ridge climb but be sure to pick up trail again at the correct spot in correct direction or you'll do the ridge anyway in the wrong direction and end up back at WS like I did and lost an hour. Had only 2 boots off crossings, one just before WS and the one just after, providing you have mid cut waterproof hikers, trekking poles, and a willingness to do some dicey rock stepping and a log crawl. Could have easily done in 2 days with earlier start and no routefinding difficulties but 3 full days should give most fit hikers the ability to see the vistas on the ABF, hang out at the WS for a little while and take a midday swim in the falls.
I've done this hike 3 times and each experience was unique. The elevation changes were challenging but I was 40+ when I completed it. There is plenty of solitude and scenery and the trail was well maintained. This is my favorite trail so far and highly recommend it. Don't forget to call the Ranger Station after you complete it...they will send you a cool patch of you're into collecting them!