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Great family friendly trail with lots of sights and activities packed into a short hike. Fun and beautiful.

I hiked only portions of this, rather than the entire trail because I was deviating to other trails on the same trip. The miles of this trail I hiked had me pass Emerald Pools, which was lovely. I also thought the view was incredible once you pass Emerald Pools, where I was looking down, through the valley.

Very cool trail. As first time park goers we couldn't find the waterfalls, so definitely have a good map!

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

scenic driving
15 days ago

Breath taking place. So many beautiful sights

scenic driving
19 days ago

We forgot to record the entire drive, but we started at the toll booths in Springdale and went all the way to the eastern edge of the park (one way). One worry I had was would our Volvo with bikes mounted on top be OK to go through the tunnels, and they were. Do keep in mind that the tunnels have a height restriction and bigger vehicles like buses or RVs may need an escort. The escort may cost extra, but otherwise there are no additional charges to go through the tunnel (without escorts). We did not do any hiking, but did stop at a few viewpoints to soak in the scenery, so we were in the park about 3 hours. It was a beautiful day and not too many people. As it had rained earlier in the week (with flash floods and rock slides), we think many may have avoided the park today (July 14). But as all of the roads were open, we had a pleasant drive through. Hope to come back again for some hikes!

hiking
29 days ago

It was a beautiful, scenic trail. We took lots of pictures of the surrounding mountainsides. Wish I could say I’d be back when the waterfall was flowing, but I came from out of state. We explored the campgrounds as well. I’d definitely recommend the park to anyone who loves camping and hiking.

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trails! Last time I was here in July of 2017, there was A LOT of spiders, so many I was nervous and decided to turn around. The other times I have gone, June 2015 and July 2016, not so many!

scenic driving
1 month ago

nice drive

hiking
1 month ago

Excellent quick trail with lots to offer. Tons of caves, rock walls, and with heavy rain apparently a waterfall (no rain lately so not present today). Trail was well marked and nearby several other trails.

It was fun! Family friendly and very beautiful. Sometimes the trail was hard to follow so I was thankful for this app’s map.

backpacking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

Started at Alyeska side. Still too early in the season...had to turn around at the pass due to all the snow. Perhaps with snow shoes, but it was too soft to support my pack and weight and I kept falling through. Snow patches leading up to the pass were compact and walkable, but made the trail difficult to find at times.

hiking
1 month ago

We loved it! A little difficult to navigate due to not being marked really well at certain starting points and turns, but getting turned around isn’t that big of a deal - we still saw everything.
Loved the caves (closed but cool to see), loved the low-temp crevices, and the rock formations were beautiful all over. A nice easy hike to start off the day.
We took this trail straight to the Yellow Rock Trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful little trail, lots a of great photo ops, good first trail when you get to the park

hiking
2 months ago

Spectacular views and well traveled for good reason. Looking forward to going back.

hiking
2 months ago

Super easy trail. Great for families! Make sure your phone is charged so you can snap some beautiful photos!

hiking
2 months ago

Excellent hike that at a modest pace, even my 70yr old father in law was able to do. Ice box was especially interesting (and refreshing) on a hot day.

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

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.

hiking
2 months ago

No shortage of beautiful and interesting stops on this hike, really enjoyed it, definite must-do hike when at Devil’s Den STate Park.

hiking
2 months ago

Fun, easy trail! Waterfalls were beautiful. Too bad the caves were closed.

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.

2 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!

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