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hiking
4 days ago

Hiked this clockwise from winding stairs last week with my brother and his son. What we loved about the trail: there was a lovely stream along the trail at almost every point along the way, the campsites were plentiful and well-maintained, there were beautiful wildflowers blooming, and for the most part the All Trails app was incredibly helpful. Some downsides: the trail is pretty poorly marked, the peaks are below tree line (so no rewarding views after the pretty challenging climbs), the footing is tricky in multiple areas due to small sharp loose rocks. It was a great workout and we had a great time. We chose it after scratching our plans to hike in NC due to less chance of rain. None of us had cell signal for the three days we were on the trail, but that is a plus to me. We hiked Sunday to Tuesday, only seeing three people early Sunday, and no one else the rest of our hike. Loved getting to cool off in the stream at the end of each day, and grateful for the - very basic but functional - showers in the bathrooms at the entrance to Alber Pike Park.

decent trail beginner level, plenty of water and campsites
good for a day hike

By far my favorite state park and mountain. This is a beautiful hike with amazing views and plenty of wildlife to see. I suggest taking plenty of water and protein snacks if you plan to complete the entire 18 miles. Some may find areas a bit strenuous but over all a easy day long hike. Enjoy

Spent a weekend out on the trail. Great trail! Well marked and lots of opportunities for water. Really scenic for trails around here.

My husband and I hiked this loop in two days. We got the summits knocked out the first day. The 5th summit is by far the hardest depending on which direction you start. If you have the time you should camp out on top of one of the mountains. They each have a campsite set up and the views are amazing (and the only part of the entire loop where you get some cell service). We hiked the first part of August and there was always a great breeze....never too hot. The Little Missouri trail had some areas we got turned around and was not marked very well but beautiful views. You definitely need water shoes!! Make sure you have great shoes...the majority of the trail is over rocks so your feet will be sore! Beautiful hike and highly recommend

backpacking
25 days ago

Me and a friend recently hiking the BHT on the hottest day of the summer so far and besides the heat and ridiculous amount of seed ticks, it was a pretty good hike. We hiked it in a day and a half, camping at Junction Camp overnight. The camp areas are well maintained and a lot of them include rock furniture. There are a couple of swimming holes that you can veer off the main trail to see that are a great way to stay cool. There's quite a bit of hiking up hill and down hill on loose rocks, some parts of the trails are better kept than others. From miles 8-11 it was very overgrown when we hiked, almost to the point where we had to guess where the trail was. This hike has some good overlooks, and rock overhangs to check out. I just suggest bringing plenty of water in the summer and covering up. It's not enough to just treat your clothes with tick repellant. Also lots of spier webs when we hiked but if it's a busy time of year then they should be cleared out you :)

beautiful and challenging. well worth the trip.

hiking
1 month ago

There were numerous spots where we had to cross streams. At one point near the end, we were staring across a river at the spot where the trail continued... on the other side.

A keeper, but with caveats. First, I suggest reversing the trail, starting at Cove Lake. (The trailhead is almost directly across from the Cove Lake entrance. If you do not want to pay the $5 fee for parking at the lake, there is room for two cars to park next to the trailhead.) Reasons to reverse the trail: its becomes up-down and you end up at the lake. The trail is 12+ miles one way. (I hiked only 4+ miles in.) Not a spectacular trail (at least the first 4 miles), but enjoyable.

It’s a good one day hike if you start in the morning or a a late evening with one night of camping, it’s pretty but not a lot to do if you plan on spending a day there. There are a lot of ticks!

This trail was intense. Pretty difficult. I did it as an overnight. It has some very beautiful spots along the way but the rocky terrain chewed my feet up. Make you have good boots that fit well. Junction camp is not easy to find. Stay at rock hole. It’s nice there in the evening. I shared part of the creek that night with a beaver. He was chill, though. It’s pretty dry out there right now, which was a bummer. Looking forward to doing this trail again in the fall.

backpacking
2 months ago

A beautiful loop plenty of water great camping spots! If it your first time dont underestimate this trail it’s a tough one. I am definitely doing it again!!

backpacking
2 months ago

The reviews of this trail range wildly. But if you go no further than these two sentences the take home is that it’s not that difficult and the stream crossing are easy.

I went at the beginning of June and while it got warm in the afternoon most of the hike is shaded anyway so it didn’t matter much. I started at the trail head Little Missouri/Athens Fork junction at 8:00am. I hiked counter clockwise so I did the ridges first. While they weren’t easy the only one that’s challenging is Brush Heap.

First night I camped alongside the creek on the eastern portion (about 11.6 Miles from my start) of the Viles Branch Horse Trail. Arrived around 3:00pm.

I was going to camp a second night but the remaining sections of the trail were very straightforward and easy. I did lose the trail a couple of times at two of the stream crossings but found it quickly. I ended up hiking through this last day. Started at 9am and was back at the Missouri/Athens Fork trail head around 4:00pm.

backpacking
2 months ago

The reviews of this trail range wildly. But if you go no further than these two sentences the take home is that it’s not that difficult and the stream crossing are easy.

I went at the beginning of June and while it got warm in the afternoon most of the hike is shaded anyway so it didn’t matter much. I started at the trail head Little Missouri/Athens Fork junction at 8:00am. I hiked counter clockwise so I did the ridges first. While they weren’t easy the only one that’s challenging is Brush Heap.

First night I camped alongside the creek on the eastern portion (about 11.6 Miles from my start) of the Viles Branch Horse Trail. Arrived around 3:00pm.

I was going to camp a second night but the remaining sections of the trail were very straightforward and easy. I did lose the trail a couple of times at two of the stream crossings but found it quickly. I ended up hiking through this last day. Started at 9am and was back at the Missouri/Athens Fork trail head around 4:00pm.

backpacking
2 months ago

We did this as an overnight hike in october.
Started the hike from the walk in campsite in devils den and ended at the suspension bridge. Ran into a few large groups and two other couples. lots of ups and downs. very enjoyable hike although the heat and humidity on the first day was awful. lots of fun little stopping points at the beginning of the hike.

I guess you would consider the swimming area pretty big. If you’re a flea. The place was full of weird rednecks that were running around stealing things and a Sad&Angsty™️ worker that even helped one couple. RIP my donut raft (2018-2018). Gone but never forgotten.

I’ve done it as a day hike and as a 3 day backpacking trek and both were enjoyable. The trail is well marked in most places, but you’ll probably miss a turn and a couple hundred yards to your total somewhere. Pretty in most areas, Quaill Valley is outright beautiful. Watch out for ticks and poison ivy though, they’re plentiful in summer months. The BHT is wonderfully rugged and not always close to water, so bring extra and/or a water filter or purifier of some kind. Cell service is blessedly limited as well, so be sure to fill out the required (free) permit at the ranger station before going.

For Boy Scouts, there is a trail patch available through the West Arkansas Council. See their website for details.

backpacking
2 months ago

. My sister and I had never backpacked before and brought way too much stuff with us, but this was a great trail to start backpacking on. Plenty of water sources throughout, and the shade made the trail fine. The south loop is much less maintained. Also, there is a sort of fake camping site near the river on the east side of the south loop that is misleading; skip the one near the river and move travel a little more south. You'll fine the correct camping site. Overall, we had a very good experience and will plan to return.

Easy hike, very nice tree shade canopy

Love this, been coming here since I was a kid doing the east caney Creek to Buckeye Loop, easy trail on the bottom and vigorous hike on the top.

Good for backpacking trip but not normal hiking

Awesome place!

hiking
2 months ago

Sublime; the perfect trail in every way.

We did the full loop at a relaxed pace early summer. You don’t need to worry about drinking/carrying too much water, as you’re able to fill up very frequently. It’s worthwhile to camp by the river or a stream both nights.

backpacking
2 months ago

Beautiful area, I don’t think the trail could be more well marked, very well maintained. Easy to moderate. Plenty of water in May.

backpacking
2 months ago

Loved it! It’s a good 2 nighter. Or if you want to run a marathon do it in one day!

backpacking
2 months ago

This was my first time doing the ERL. Conditions were partly cloudy skies, light wind, and highs in the upper 80s. The river height at Langley read 3.27 ft. I hiked solo and my pack weight w/ 2 L of water was 27 lbs. I started around 8 am Friday and was back at my car around 6:30 pm Saturday.

I started at the Little Missouri Falls Trailhead and decided to do it clockwise as the elevation profile of Brush Heap Mountain is less intimidating going this way. The Little Missouri trail is beautiful and not terribly challenging other than needing good balance for stream crossings. Trekking poles are a must for balance unless you want to take a lot of unintentional dips in the river. There is a bit of a climb after the Albert Pike recreation area, but not too bad. The river crossing near the VB/LMR junction that is wet year-round has an island in the middle and is a great place to stop and take a dip in the river to cool off.

The Viles Branch horse trail was the least memorable part of the trail. It is fairly rocky at points and poorly blazed/difficult to follow. I saw just one snake the whole time, a water moccasin, near a creek crossing on this portion of the trail. I stopped and made camp at the SW corner of loop near the junction of the VB and ABF trails. There are a ton of camp sites along the trail and most appear to be frequently used and nice and flat. Most are within 25 ft of water. The amount of trash I saw at camp sites was disappointing though, and it was worse at campsites close to trailheads. I'll never understand hiking in with your heavy bud light, but being too lazy to carry the empty cans out.

I hiked out the next morning with fresh legs and hit the ridges on the ABF trail almost immediately. They are indeed pretty strenuous, but should be manageable for most people. Despite some areas with newly downed trees, this section of the trail was the easiest to follow. There is abundant water in all the valleys. Do the Vista trails on the two southern ridges. The views are awesome!

This is a great weekend trail and I may try to make a point of trying to do it once a year now. I'd do it with cooler weather next time though. By mid-May, the heat/humidity can really put a strain on you from about 1-4 pm. The trails are just starting to get overgrown in some sections and combined with poor blazing in some areas, it would be very easy to lose the trail frequently by early June. If you want isolation, try to do this trail in the middle of the week. I only saw a half dozen people on the trail Friday, but saw at least 3 dozen on Saturday, mostly large groups.

Do yourself a huge favor and download the Arkansas Hiker app and pay $5 for the ERL map. Keep your phone in airplane mode and it'll last forever. Every time you lose the trail, and you will several times, it'll help you get back on track.

Trail has been popular on my visits. I meet 4 different sets of hikers on the last hike. This seems like a lot on trails in Arkansas.

Viles Branch isn’t clearly marked in some
spots and the trIal webs in a couple of places.

On Athens Big Fork most climbs are not bad. At 500 feet is when I start feeling a climb in my legs and most mountains are done at 500 (couple are not). Basically if you are climbing down or from a creek the climb will be longer and tougher.

General info: Take time hike the spurs. They offer good views. I would drop the hiking boots and go with trail runners since trail offers so many river and creek crossings. Plenty of campsites.

3 months ago

great trail with amazing views. there is a couple places along the trail that are poorly marked or not marked and have multiple trails which make it difficult to ensure your on the right trail with out walking down the trail a little ways

backpacking
3 months ago

27.3 miles. Started at Winding Stairs parking lot around 6:15 pm Friday, hiked clockwise and finished up at noon on Sunday. Climbs are strenuous which is made even worse by no switchbacks. Every ascent is straight uphill. I don't get it. WARNING: there are many side trails that aren't marked. Blazes can be spotty so it is very easy to go down the wrong trail. Viles Branch is the worst leg for not being well marked. Another difficult portion with few blazes is the leg between Albert Pike and Winding Stair. Water is plentiful. Ran into a Copperhead on Viles Branch and a couple rattlesnakes at Spirit Rock Vista. Watch your step! Eagle Rock Vista is the best view of the entire hike and not far off the main trail. When we went it was foggy but you won't want to miss it on a clear day!

I did the Buckeye trailhead to East Caney Creek trailhead and walked back up the road to Buckeye. This was an exhausting 8hr hike, I took many breaks and explored the sites.
This is also one of the best trails I have done, from the views, waterfall, creek crossings, wildlife, and solitude. I will say, all of the down trees on the path made the going tough sometimes, but provided excellent resting spots. I would start this trip well before noon if you want to make it out before dark.

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