Boardstand Trail is a 26 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Wister, OK that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The Boardstand Trail is usually combined with the Old Military Road Trail and a 7-mile segment of the Ouachita Trail to form a 23-mile loop.
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.
The Old Military Road / Boardstand Path/ Ouachita Mountain Trail collectively form a looped hike of about 23 miles, overlapping with many other routes such as the Choctaw Nation Trail and Panorama Vista, through Talimena State Park—and is argued to be the best hike through the hills of Oklahoma. There are a couple instances towards the end that can be confusing: during the final decent to Talihina State Park, there are intermittent yellow blazes because the INT criss-crosses the Ouachita trail several times, but will close on its self where the Ouachita Trail intersects the Old Military Trail. All state park offices were closed except for central location; we saw no water sources on the route, mostly overcast and cold with strong winds in more open areas/higher elevation. Took us about 10 hours to complete. Not the best scenery in the winter, of course, but still very enjoyable.
I did the Old Military Road / Boardstand / Ouchita Trail loop starting at Talimena State Park. I went clockwise. When I got to the Deadmans Rd I went south and walked the Talimena Scenic Highway back west until Potato Hill Vista. From there, I hopped back onto the Ouachita Trail back to Talimena State Park. I did not see any water sources on the route. I had a water stash on FR6555. It was overcast the entire hike and the temps were great both during the day and at night.
This trail was great! We started at the Old Military Road trailhead and went clockwise. Did 6ish miles the first night (got there in afternoon) and camped near the intersection of Old Military Rd with Boardstand. It had been raining heavily the week before our hike, so all the creeks were full, some almost too full! There were many, many creek crossings, especially on Boardstand and Ouachita; under normal circumstances these would have probably been no problem, but with the higher water levels, they were a bit dodgy!
We camped the second night on the Ouachita -- there were a good amount of campsites along the trail, most with fire rings. It was a lovely trail with some rewarding vistas along the way!
I write this review, and give the trail 4 instead of 5 stars, because of poor markings near the end of the Ouachita portion of the trail (if you are going clockwise). There is a turn off where you head down the bank and then cross the creek -- this was poorly marked and we missed our turn! I wanted to warn future hikers of this problem -- near the end of Ouachita, be aware of the blazes -- they will be clearly marked across the creek, so be looking for them at this portion so you'll know when to cross.
All in all, an enjoyable 3 day, 2 night hike.
HIKED OLD MILITARY ROAD / BOARDSTAND / OUACHITA TRAILS TO ACCOMPLISH A 23-MILE LOOP
Arrived at the Old Military Road trailhead just before dawn on 23 Dec 1996. We hiked the first section of this trail in the gray pre-dawn light and hiked through patchy fog. The Old Military Road is an interesting hike, the most beautiful segment of this 23-mile loop. The trail follows the trace of a wagon road built in 1832 between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Fort Towsen in what is now Oklahoma, Hiking this first section is very easy, allowing the hiker to examine the dirt work, rock embankments and dry-laid culverts along the trail. We did see fresh bear prints near the intersection with the Boardstand Trail.
While the Old Military Road segment was an "easy" hike, the Boardstand Trail, as it ascends through the Holsen Valley, becomes a "moderate" trail -- except the last mile where it seems to be routed straight up the side of Winding Stair Mountain. That climb is as strenuous as any I've experienced in the Rockies. Thankfully, it was over in about a mile, at the point where the Boardstand Trail joins the Ouachita Trail.
We set camp shortly after arriving at the Ouachita Trial, on the north side of Winding Stair Mountain. We were able to find water in a flowing stream about 50 yards below the Ouachita Trail, and set our camp near that water.
The next morning, on the hike back to the Old Military Road trailhead, we scrambled over (or crawled under) fallen trees for what seemed to be almost a mile. We learned later there had been an ice-storm the previous winter which had caused this problem. It began raining as well. We consulted the topographic map and jumped from the Ouachita Trail at the Panorama Vista parking lot, where we followed SH-1 (the Talimena Scenic Drive) back to the vehicle. We had hoped someone in a pickup would come along and give us a ride in the back of their truck, but we walked those miles without meeting any vehicles.
We had to scramble for cover a couple of times as the rain turned into hail. It was a great trip, with a couple of exceptions. I think trying to accomplish that 23-mile loop in only one overnight was our first mistake. I would enjoy doing that loop again, using 2 overnights. And, while hiking in the rain down the center line of SH-1, my socks somehow got wet, so the hiking on the pavement raised some blisters on my feet.