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on Eagle Rock Loop

backpacking
14 hours ago

We hiked this trail in October, and had a 7 year old with us. We ended up camping 3 nights, as we were not in a hurry at all. We took lightweight hikers tents, our backpacks had camelbacks, and we ate MREs. I am not exaggerating when I say we probably crossed water 60 times, but sometimes it was just small streams that you could step on rocks to get across. I took water shoes to change into to cross the bigger water crossings so my shoes could stay dry, then I would change back into my sneakers. When I said MREs earlier, I feel they made all of the difference in our energy level. I couldn’t have made it on trail food. We had 2 each per day, and saved something out of them for breakfast. We had some extra water to start, but we took one of those little filters to filter the stream water so that we could pack a little lighter. When we parked and started, we went to the right first. We had studied the map and felt this was the toughest part so we wanted to tackle it first. Brush Heap Mountain has no mercy. It’s a long, steep climb that you think will never end. At the top was a little spotty cell coverage if you wanted to check in with the rest of the world. Other than that, I don’t believe we had any cell phone coverage. So be sure you check in and out with the park rangers.
It was a challenging, beautiful hike. Lots of different terrain to see and experience. We are in our 40s, and had a teen and a 7 year old and we completed it.

backpacking
3 days ago

Butterfield Hiking Trail 10-11 Nov 2018

Hiked the BHT clockwise doing an overnight. Weather was great with lows in the high 20s and highs in the mid 40s. No bugs, snakes or ticks. Foliage was about a week or two past peak.
Prep: No specific prep for this hike.
Hike: This hike is could be moderate or could be strenuous depending on how you hike and your experience level. The trail is generally easy to follow with sufficient blazes. Follow the natural line of drift and you shouldn't go too far off the trail. The only potential issue is where you may end up on another trail that crosses the BHT. If that's the case and you stop seeing the blazes retrace your steps and you'll be fine. There are mile markers, but while useful for landmarks, I would not take the actual distance as gospel. You will go 35 minutes to cover a mile while and with similar terrain and pace the next mile will be 15 minutes. There are some places where the trail is rocky, not as in you climb up rocks but a bunch of brick sized rocks littering the ground. Throw in the leaves covering the trail and this could be tough if you have knees or ankles that susceptible to being tweaked. I didn't use poles but some in my party really needed them to avoid bodily damage.

You need to stop by the visitor center and they will log you in and give you a parking pass for your car if you are overnighting. They will give you a copy of a sketch map and talk through any nonintuitive areas of the trail (get to the start, and the finish). With the map and a simple compass you are set as the trail is fundamentally a box bounded by two creeks. Once you start there is a some incline as you head up the ridgeline until about mile 2.5. You run the highground for a while and then by about mile 5 you are back by the creek. Once you pass mile 7 the trail becomes covered with the brick sized rocks. I edged up to the west (up the slope a bit) to see if conditions improved but they didn't. Around mile 9.5 the trail goes up and there is one chute of about 20m where you need to use your hands (about mile 10) but I wouldn't really call it a scramble. Then the trail rides the ridgeline. A little past mile 13 you have a downslope that gets you down the ridge and then you are at the creek. There is caution tape where the trail is closed by slide. Go about 50m left (as you face the creek) and there are some rocks where you can cross. If the water level is higher I could see getting your feet wet. After that another .5 mile and you are back at the parking lot.

Camping Sites: The great thing about this park is that there are primitive camp sites sprinkled throughout. Some are set along the creeks and some are in the higher ground. There are good concentrations about mile 5 and mile 9.5 (Junction Creek). We stayed at Junction Creek. It sits about 400m off of the main trail and the intersection to the trail that leads to it is marked. Previous campers have made 7-8 fire circles, stone furniture etc and there was plenty of deadfall to make a nice fire. About 5 groups ended up camping in the area. If you are looking for complete privacy JC isn't the place for you (at least on a weekend).

Gear: Standard overnight gear. Some reviews reported water resupply was an issue but you are near creeks for a lot of the route and the water levels looked good at this time of year. I used about 3l including camp stuff and rehydrating meals.

Additional notes: Check and see when hunting season is. We found out it was going on when we checked in. The visitor center will give you a flourescent vest to throw on your pack but the savvy folks brought a blaze hat or something similar. A lot of the trail in in the Forest where hunting is permitted and not the park . While we did not see any hunters you can hear them shooting fairly often so you know they are there.

There are some caves in the park but currently they are closed due to some disease that the bats are getting. If caving is your thing call the park for updates.

Overall a good hike with great camping opportunities.

very enjoyable and great overnight trail.

on Eagle Rock Loop

backpacking
15 days ago

We hiked the entire loop starting at 2pm on 10/25 thru 5pm on 10/28. We started the trail at Winding Stairs and went counter-clockwise. Amazing trail with plenty of fall colors this time of year! Day 1 we did about 4 miles which was a great start. One hill at the beginning and then relatively flat for the remainder of the day. Day 2 we hiked about 8 miles which put us right before the start of where you do a number of climb and decent areas. Day 3 we did about 7 miles. A tough 7 miles this is the part of the trail that makes it rated "hard". We stayed at the top of Bush Master after a tough hike up to the top. Day 4 we hiked 9 miles and finished the trail with a mostly downhill hike with some up and down.

There are many campsites along all sections of the trail, so we never worried about having a place to stop. With that said we planned to land at a campsite about 1 1/2 hours before sunset to setup and have dinner before dark.

There was a lot of water on this trail. I lost count but there were probably 20 water crossings. On all but maybe 5 you could cross without getting your shoes wet. On 5 the water was about knee deep and we crossed using water shoes. I imagine the water level varies based on rainfall and time of year.

There was no cell coverage on the trail with the exception of the top of hurricane knob and the top of brush heap mountain and even there it was spotty.

One of the top hikes I have done. The terrain, type of trees, rivers, bluffs, meadows and valleys varied substantially throughout the park. All was scenic.

Highly recommend!

backpacking
17 days ago

We did the entire loop 10/26 thru 10/28. It’s a vigorous trail so fitness is important. Water was everywhere so didn’t need to carry much more than what I could drink in 60-90 minutes of activity. No cell service other than on the top of Brush Heap mountain but it’s a task to get there. Awesome experience with incredible views, particularly in the Winding Stairs area. Water was about 50 degrees and was a great refresher on the feet.

backpacking
19 days ago

I hiked the loop on 10/21 and 10/22/2018 and was very impressed with its scenic beauty and difficulty. Make sure you are in decent shape, especially for the descents on the Athens Big Fork Trail. No need to carry much water. If you get thirsty just bend over and fill your bottle. Some of the best tasting water I’ve ever had. I didn’t bother with water shoes, the crossings are far too numerous. Changing shoes before and after each crossing is just not feasible in my opinion. I hiked with wet trail runners and medium weight wool socks and had no problem with blisters.
There is zero cell service on the trail. Also, some of the mountain roads to the trailheads are paved with hatchets and knives. Flat tires are very common so be prepared.
I’d give this trail 5 stars but then how would I rate the JMT?

backpacking
21 days ago

Nice solo hike. Can be tough if you are not in shape. Campsites could use to have trash picked up. But all in all an awesome trail with amazing views. Also look for several natural springs. I saw 4 this trip.

backpacking
23 days ago

A nice walk in the woods. Some nice elevation changes that will get your heart pumping. The highlight of this trail are the fantastic camping spots by the creek. Several have pre-made chairs made from rocks with good back support. The trail has nice rock formations with moss and lichen: typical Ozarks.

A really nice hike. Many great views, the water level is high as a result of the recent rain, but the trail has held up pretty well, waterproof hiking boots helped

hiking
26 days ago

I have been hiking ERL since 2013 and I have hiked it 10 times since then. It offers such great scenery and great places to camp. I have always wanted some ERL trail merchandise but could find any. So, I decided to design some myself. If your interested in an Eagle Rock Loop tee shirt or window sticker go to https://teespring.com/stores/eagle-rock-loop

backpacking
27 days ago

I first completed the loop in May of 2010. I have completed it 13 times since. One of my favorite hikes!

hiking
27 days ago

This trail lives up to the hype of being one of the most challenging trails in Arkansas. It is poorly marked at time making it to decipher it from the other trails in the area. Have a good trail map downloaded on a reliable hiking app. We used all trails and gut hooks. The is no cell reception in this area (especially sprint). There are plenty of water sources and camping spots with amazing views. There had to be 70 water crossings, only 6 require you to get you feet wet. Started at the Mine Creek rd Trail Head and hiked it counted clock wise. Allow 4 days so you can take your time and enjoy all the amazing views. Great trail, could be a knee wrecker so be ready

backpacking
1 month ago

Great, tough hike! I almost scored this trail a 4-star, but it wouldn’t be fair. We had miserable conditions this past weekend, yet we managed to finish it. Day one was drenching rain that never let up. We started at Little Missiouri Falls and walked about 14 miles. The river was swollen, and the crossings were tough. Even the smaller streams were impossible to rock walk over. The last half mile of the first day, the trail was 6-8” underwater. Day 2 was a success in the fact that there was no rain, but we tackled 10 miles of mountains. They were pretty tough, but doable. Brush Heap Mountain was a steep descent from the direction we went!!! Got a fire started that even when the rain started and put it out. That night temperatures dropped into the 40’s. We had about 5-6 miles to walk in cold rain, but we finished the trail. It was beautiful scenery, and a challenging trail. Don’t underestimate the river crossings! Don’t wear hiking boots! Trail runners will dry out much faster! Lessons learned!!!

backpacking
1 month ago

A group of 3 of us completed this trail this past weekend (10/12-10/14).

I knew that Friday’s weather looked decent and there would be rain on Sat & Sun so I called the ranger station to get advice on which trailhead to start at and which direction to travel. I wis told to start at Winding Stairs and travel counterclockwise. That’s what we did.

The first day we hiked a few miles past Little Missouri Falls. That day was not super challenging and the weather mostly cooperated. Light sprinkles that ended by the time we set up camp. Water crossings weren’t too bad. We camped near the river in a nice spot. No fire though due to everything being beyond wet.

Day two we begin with the plan to get past the last peak and find a camp spot. It started raining after about 30 minutes of hiking. I didn’t even bother with rain pants or jacket. The temps were good enough that we were not freezing. It did not take long for my hiking shoes to be completely soaked. At that point, I didn’t even bother removing them when we crossed water. We ended up hiking about 13 miles that day in the rain. It was tolerable and the climbs were not that big of a deal. Camp set up was in the rain and everything was wet. We were a little more than 5 miles from the trailhead by my calcs.

Day three we head out without breakfast. We had been given word that there was a major crossing still ahead of us and we wanted to her there early. We met some guys going the other direction that camped on our side of the river that night. They said when they crossed the day before the water was already thigh high and moving pretty good. This had us very concerned. Our concern was justified when we arrived at the river. It was moving dangerously fast. Two in the group went down river to see if there was a passable route. One even considered swimming across so he could take a rope with him. Somehow I was able to get cell signal when I took my phone off airplane mode. I got on the USGS website and the river was flowing 739cfs @ almost 5 feet. No way we were crossing that without being swept away. It’s a good thing for AllTrails. I was able to pull up the map and determine our only option was to bushwhack our way through the brush to reconnect with the trail further east. This was brutal and really beat us up with yet another climb, thorn filled bushes and slick downhill terrain. We made it through and got back to the truck.

Overall, this is a great trail in close proximity to DFW. I am not in top physical shape and I’m certain I could complete this trail in 2 full days. If you have hiked anything in Colorado or California you will not find this to be a difficult trail. Especially considering it is not done at an elevation that makes you work for each breath. I will definitely be back when there is better weather with a lighter pack and a plan to complete it in two days.

backpacking
1 month ago

Husband and I drove 4.5 hours to hike the trail this weekend , we intended to do the whole loop but the weather was not cooperating . We Started the trail at Winding stair trailhead (hiked clockwise) on Friday 12:30p.m. camped somewhere on the Viles Branch trail , found a nice campsite and enjoyed the evening next to the fire ...that was a pain in the ass to build cause everything was wet . We only made it to West Blaylock , and got a ride back to our vehicle . We plan on going back when the weather is more enjoyable. We met some pleasant people on the trail and hope that everyone that was out there this weekend made it home safe .

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail and very challenging. This is not a trail for beginners. We started on Friday morning at the Winding Stairs trailhead and headed clockwise. We knew there was rain in the forecast for Sunday, so we wanted to be through the climbs by then. The Vile Branch trail (southern part of EGL) is not a terribly challenging trail, but has a lot of water crossings. Don't underestimate the rocks and boulders in the water, they are slick. Bring water shoes and cross the deeper sections the old fashioned way. We saw hiker after hiker try to rock skip only to wind up with their boots under water and their clothes soaked. It's more technical than it looks, but completely passable so long as the water is below about 3.5 feet. Much higher than that and you are going to be fighting a pretty strong current. Be advised, the blazing on this part of the EGL is not always reliable. Having AllTrails running on my phone saved us from miles of off-trail hiking at several junctions.

The Athens-Big Fork trail (western part) is no joke. You don't want to do it in the rain, so plan your progress accordingly. It's not exaggeration to say there are no switchbacks on this section of trail, and there are 6 peaks to climb and descend. The ascents range from 300 feet to about 800 feet ... straight up a 45 degree incline. You want to plan your pack well too, because you don't want 40 pounds on your back as you make those ascents and descents. There is another ~300 foot ascent/descent in the winding stairs area as you close out the loop from that trailhead. Eagle Rock Vista (first summit on the clockwise path) is definitely worth the climb and definitely worth taking a long break to enjoy. It's a truly impressive view.

The Little Missouri trail is probably the easiest and most scenic part of the loop. It's beautiful and easy to crank out big miles there. Just be aware, at the end of that part of the trail, as you return to the winding stairs trailhead, you have one more climb to finish ... and it's pretty brutal after a long day on the trail.

We did the trail in 3 days, but I could easily see spending 4 days out there if you wanted to really enjoy the trail and break it up more. Coming from DFW, this is definitely the hardest trail within a 10 hour drive. It's definitely one to check off the bucket list.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is very much a fair weather trail. we just got back from a weekend on the trail and it was raining from friday morning to Sunday morning.

The mountainous section is difficult on it's own, but gets exponentially more difficult with water. there are no switchbacks, only straight ascents up the mountains that turn into small streams with rain.

The main thing however is the river. several crossings of the Little Missouri turned from knee-high to belly-high crossings real quick. Any more rain and the river could have become impassable immediately, leaving us stuck waiting on the water to recede. even the easy rock hopping streams became ankle to knee high.

The trail is decently blazed for the most part, but it can be easy to get off the trail. A particular intersection leads to a white blazed trail (same as the rest of the trail) that dead ends in private property.

This trail would be much better in clear weather but the troubles with the trail itself would remain.

All-in-all this is a difficult trail, a good test of your backpacking skill, and would be worth a hike once in clear weather.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hard but very pretty. We did this in two days but it wasn’t a walk in the park. So if your looking to take your time I would recommended 3 days. We hiked clockwise starting at winding stairs which made the first day hard and the second day easy. But was told that counter clockwise and starting at little Missouri would give you the same results. We brought hydration bladders, but there are plenty of streams to use filter bottles if you wish to save weight.

Trekking poles help a lot, and for the dog owners, the rocks on this trail can hurt their pads. So only bring dogs with tougher pads.

Rewarding views around every turn! I started on the southern loop on day 2 but it was an exhausting series of switchbacks so I went back and explored the northern section again. Has everything! Towering bluffs, gurgling creek, plenty of camping spots, 200’ cliff/waterfall (if running). Even a creepy old cabin. Lots of hikers and horses on the northern section but it didn’t feel crowded. Peaceful, serene. I’d go every weekend if I could. Trail was poorly marked in several crucial areas. Expect to cross the river several times.

Did the trail this past weekend, Saturday afternoon to Monday morning. The trail was well blazed for the most part, had to look out for the orange markers in a couple of spots and ended up backtracking on some spurs. It was a blast anyways though, but the humidity was rough on me and my dog.

backpacking
1 month ago

My wife and I completed this loop last weekend (Oct 5-7). It was really muggy Friday and steamy the next two days as the air cleared out. We went CW, starting at the Athens Big Fork South Trailhead spur just SW of Eagle Rock Vista, knocking out the tough stuff first.

Most notably we saw a mature bear through the western ridges. After hearing prolonged, loud rustling in the trees above, we looked up. We watched as a bear slid 50 feet down a trunk like a fireman on a pole before it ran away from the trail (west). That tree was 30 feet from the trail and 50 feet from us. This took all but 2 seconds. My wife and I stayed still and vigilant for a bit to ensure no other bears were around. It was not aggressive, and I think we startled it/woke it up. The only reason this gets 4 stars is the numerous, numerous water crossings.

I haven’t hiked this trail but wanted to know where I can park my car while hiking the Eagle Rock loop? Also, should I hike clockwise or counter? Do I need a permit? Thanks!

backpacking
1 month ago

Amazing trail! Completed with my 11 year old son. Took our time, only about 2.5 miles left on 10/4, but wanted to enjoy swimming holes the next morning so we stretched it out one more night. (10/1-10/5) We'll be back!

backpacking
1 month ago

Just completed the loop today. Conditions are everything when it comes to success, particularly the river level. Follow the Langley gauge closely. The bugs can be ferocious in spots. Despite insane humidity levels keeping all of our gear and bodies wet for the whole trip, this loop was definitely worth doing. We went clockwise from Little Mo Falls starting about 4:30 PM on Thursday, finishing about 11 AM Sunday. This was a reasonable pace. Don’t underestimate the Athens-Big Fork segment — your pace will likely be much slower there, and it’s tough going. The trail can be hard to follow at several water crossings; someone has helped immensely with orange flagging. Headed clockwise, the trail is blazed incorrectly at the Little Missouri/Viles Branch junction. The blaze directs you straight ahead; you should turn right. Best views were from Eagle Peak and the Winding Stair section of the river. The rest of the trail is a pleasant green tunnel for the most part. Lots of nice campsites in obvious locations.

I absolutely love this trail! I’ve done it twice now, and I’m sure I’ll be back. Great scenery and, challenging.

Fun over nighter!

This was a butt kicker. Definitely take trekking poles as everything is up or down at 20 degrees +. Plenty of places to get water to filter and camp sites. Be prepared to traverse streams and get your feet wet. FYI - Forest Road 38 is also Polk 83. I drove past it several times before I saw this. There is also a Caney Creek Wildlife Mgmt. Area sign.

Good luck!

This was my first ever over night. It was a fantastic 2 days on the trail. beautiful scenery and a great trail to test your skills! Can't wait to do it again.

on Eagle Rock Loop

1 month ago

This is a great hike! I’m no stranger to the Ouachita trail but have never hiked this area. You simply can’t ask for a better 2-3 day hike. Thank you to the person that added orange markers at all the river crossings. The 8 miles over six peaks is very very challenging, but doable. Great water sources, swimming holes and lots of wildlife!

hiking
1 month ago

Just hiked on the the eagle rock loop trail. We had 4 boys with us, from 14 years old down to 7.
We had no intentions of hiking the whole loop, just wanted to let the boys enjoy the swimming holes and scenery as we went.
The boys loved the water. Very clear and clean. We did the hike clockwise from winding stairs trailhead. Made it as far as Eagle Rock Vista.
With the few turn around see he losing the trail at water crossings, it’s about 9 miles.
Absolutely beautiful country. We did see several water snakes, so watch out. They are actually very dosile, one of the boys actually stepped on one.
There is no need to carry much water until you get to the base of a summit since you can drink plenty along the way.
We turned in early at the campsite around 2:00 the last evening just because it was such a awesome campsite with super clear water and a nice swimming hole. The boys played in the water until they were too cold they couldn’t stand it ... they had a blast.
My only complaint would be the trails are marked poorly or not at all at some of the water crossings, and there is more then 1 way to get to the same place. I believe your suppose to stay on the yellow markers, but sometimes we accidentally got on the white ones. None of this was really a issue, just added some time to our trek. I downloaded the map before hand, so I could easily see when we got off the trail. Even with my phone on airplane mode, GPS still worked with the map.
Can’t wait to go back !

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