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on Eagle Rock Loop

1 day 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
5 days 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 !

on Eagle Rock Loop

backpacking
7 days ago

Great adventure if you are up for it! Recommend hiking counterclockwise from little Missouri falls. 48-56 hrs in-out

backpacking
9 days ago

Did this trail in 2 nights and 3 days. Had a blast. Terrain varies greatly from low lying riverbank to mountain top campsites.

backpacking
16 days ago

Hiked this loop in April, hands down the best loop in Arkansas. Be prepared for a strenuous 2nd day hiking over all of the ridges. Totally worth it, I definitely recommend. The trail is not marked the best so be mindful of where you are--have a map. If you have a GPS device bring it. There was plenty of water available in April. We did the the hike in a weekend, wish we had more time to do it so that we didn't have to rush. Such a scenic trail! We saw lots of wildlife, including rattlesnakes! Be careful

backpacking
16 days ago

Completed this trail as part of the Eagle Rock Loop trail. Did in clockwise so I did the Athens-Big Fork trail going south to north.

Both Eagle Rock Vista and Brush Heap have side trails to overlooks which I highly recommend. Gorgeous views. Camped on top of Leader Mountain. There was a nice open spot with a firepit right when you get to the peak.

This was a great, challenging hike. Going south to north, I would say going up Leader Mountain was the most challenging section. Pretty sure it is not the longest incline but it was UP all the way.

Trekking poles are a must here in my opinion!

backpacking
16 days ago

Hiked from Little Missouri Falls trailhead going clockwise over 3 days/2 nights. Covered roughly 11 miles on the first day and found a secluded little spot west of the river, right before the Viles Branch Trail junction. Did around 8 miles on the second day, covering Eagle Rock Vista and Brush Heap Mountain before setting up camp on top of Leader Mountain. Both Eagle Rock and Brush Heap have side trails to overlooks which I highly recommend. Gorgeous views. Started the last day around 9am, covering roughly 10 miles and was back at the Little Missouri Falls trailhead around 3:30pm.

http://www.duprephotography.com/ERL/index.html
Website above is where I got all the information I needed to complete the trail. Very accurate info.

This was a great, challenging hike. My previous experience was one other backpacking trip (Butterfield Hiking Trail) which was only half the distance. I do a lot of day hiking as well (11 miles was my longest before this trip). Going clockwise I would say going up Leader Mountain was the most challenging section. Pretty sure it is not the longest incline but it was UP all the way.

Trekking poles and water shoes are a must here in my opinion!

on Eagle Rock Loop

backpacking
17 days ago

Great trail, some maintenance needed (i.e. better markers). Tough in some spots but fun and views are worth the side trails. We started at Little Missouri Falls and did the loop counter clockwise. Found a few spots where you can end up looping backwards on the trail, no markings for CW or CC.

backpacking
24 days ago

I’ve done this twice. Took the winding stairs trailhead (nearest Albert Pike) both times moving clockwise. Great camping sites all over the trail for tent and hammock. Although if you’re part of a big party, there may not be enough trees in one campsite if everyone is going hammock. You may have to spread out to areas that haven’t been previously cleared. Plenty of water. Which comes in handy if you sweat a lot, like me. Lots of water crossings. A few of them substantial. Think 60 feet across and up to 25 inches deep. Do yourself a favor and bring water shoes or flip flops. Barefeet on the river bed is a bad idea and nobody makes boots THAT waterproof. Also... trekking poles. They are an enormous help for the ups and downs and maintaining balance in the moving water. Trails can be difficult to pick up at a couple of the bigger water crossings. Both big crossings of the Little Missouri were poorly marked. But get yourself a good map and you’ll be able to quickly figure out where you are and where you’re going.

You’ll read vastly different descriptions here of how difficult this trail is. To some, it’s a piece of cake. To others, it’s a real challenge. It all depends on the individual. Although I think the people who breeze through this are definitely the minority. Ask yourself some basic questions about your weight, fitness level, health, heat tolerance, etc. For instance, the first time I did it, it was difficult. I wasn’t in very good shape. The second time, I was in better shape, but it was even more difficult because it was 25 degrees hotter. There is A LOT of up and down. Some of it quite steep. Which aside from making it strenuous, can also really hurt if you’ve got bad knees and ankles. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying this trail. But, if you’re being honest with yourself, and you’re not in the best of shape, spend a month or two prepping your physical fitness and getting your joints healthy. You’ll be glad you did. Some people do this in two days. Others in three. If you’re not certain of your physical abilities to complete it in two days, go ahead and plan on three. It might ruin your plan for a Saturday/Sunday hike. But it’ll be more enjoyable if you’re not having to kill yourself to finish it.

This is a challenge that is totally worth it. I’ll be going back sometime soon.

Hiked the trail from Blaylock trailhead (106) clockwise with my Goldendoodle. Set up camp at winding stairs trailhead (18 miles) under hot and humid conditions the first day. Trail was overgrown in some spots and got some poison ivy from the knees down due to lack of hikers this time of year. Will remember to consume more electro lights on the next visit because of the heat and excessive sweating. Finished the following day before noon. Additionally, treat your water as I didn't this time and got a bit of giardia after returning home. This hasn't been a problem in the past:)

hiking
1 month 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.

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

beautiful and challenging. well worth the trip.

hiking
2 months 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.

backpacking
3 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
3 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
3 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.

Hiked this with my daughter on 6-12-18 and used the West Scenic loop. Several areas where the blackberry’s and brush have overgrown the trail. Also some areas where trees have blocked the path and you have to work your way around. I also think some of the white tree markers were burned off and haven’t been remarked. I hiked this last year around the same time and it was in much better shape. I will do it again next year but definitely take a machete to hack through some of the brush.

hiking
3 months ago

As of this posting all water sources are dry. We started off at the vista and hiked down tot he creek and back. A few white tail deer on the path, but overall a very pretty hike.

hiking
3 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
3 months ago

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

backpacking
4 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.

4 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
4 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!

4 months ago

One of my favorite backpacking loops. It's not an easy hike(I've seen grown Men cry on this loop) If you're up for a challenge the pay off is well worth it! Plenty of water crossings so you dont have to pack out a lot of water ♡ just pump as you go, stunning views, wildlife galore and it's a loop!
2 or 3 day hike depending on hiking experience/ability.
You should know that there is No phone service on this trail and I have only seen a Ranger two times out of the 14 times I've done this loop so once you're out there, you're on your own :) that's one of the many reasons I LOVE this Loop!

hiking
4 months ago

I parked at the forest service parking trailhead 2 miles sw of the Albert Pike rec area. (Off fs 106) and hiked clockwise from there. Definitely recommend this route. Not only do I think it’s the least strenuous route, it’s only 2 miles of gravel road to navigate your car on. I absolutely am terrified of gravel roads and destroying my car.
Anyway...on to the trail.

Did 8 miles trail hiking the first day (plus 4 miles for the parking, long story short. One cannot park overnight at the Albert pike rec area.) which included the little Missouri branch and eagle rock mountain, then 20 miles the second day, finishing up the other 5 and then it was kinda downhill back to the trailhead.
I’m not in shape, though I am not overweight, i do not regularly (or irregularly) work out. I “trained” by wearing 1.5 lb ankle weights everyday for a month beforehand. So this is challenging but I’d say just about any able bodied person can do it, if I can.
Also there is no cell signal anywhere on the trail. GPS works, thankfully. Without AllTrails I’d have really struggled with finding the trail again especially after water crossings (of which there are many) I consulted with 3 different misdirected hikers who were relying on compass and maps. (I have these items as backups — but have accepted the joy and ease that gps brings) It was indeed handy to be able to show them where we were. Just navigating the trails can be a little frustrating due to the signage. Especially, if like me you didn’t know the names of the trails “branches” of the eagle rock loop trail. These are available on the detailed section forest service maps.
Water is abundant. I had carried too much one 16 oz bottle on my shoulder, and a liter smart bottle in a side pocket (this I did not really need) but being a Texan it’s hard for me not to store extra water just in case.
There are rattlesnakes on the trail so beware. I ran into a little one right in the middle of the scenic trail up brush heap mountain. Just keep eyes peeled, they do blend in.
And, lastly, if you’re driving in the area at dawn or dusk beware the deer on/near the road. Definitely heed the posted speed limits, it’s for our safety and the local’s too.
Happy day and happy trails!

backpacking
4 months ago

First time hiking this trail and I always take these reviews into account when making my hiking plan. This is a great trail and surprisingly hard, though it didn't seem like it should be! Don't think I could have done this in one day. The west side of the loop was pretty brushy and I wish I had a machete at one point. This late in the spring lots of growth should be expected when the tree canopy disappears. Seen other reviewers say this and that about trail markings. The blazes are easy to find and I never questioned where the trail was. But there are lots of secondary Equestrian trails and the intersects ARE NOT well marked for hikers. Very confusing. Be prepared to back track a little, not much, to find your trail and TRUST the white blazes. Additionally there are a lot of yellow signs that say TO CAMP and I think they are talking about horse camp. not sure. Also saw some negative comments about horse dung but I saw very little. Honestly the east side of the trail was well traveled by horses and that made the trail smoother. Horses kick the little rocks out of the way over time and helped my feet! A final note, I have never hiked this trail before and planned on using the spring as my fill up point. The main spring pool was disgusting. Lots of duff and scum floating. No way I was getting any water from that. There is a lower pool where the water is flowing and looked moderately better. I was really worried about drinking the water but I filtered it, drank it, no ill effects. The other water source was Cedar Creek and it was flowing with lots of water. Good source. Also several good primitive camp sites on both sides of the creek. All in all a great trail but some sign improvements are needed for hikers.

Awesome trail!!! Some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Makes me want to move to Arkansas. Countless water crossings, waterfalls and springs and allot of elevation on the western part of the loop. The southern part of the trail along the Viles branch and the southern part of the Little Missouri by winding stair I thought was the most beautiful. Lots of great camping sites. I can’t wait to return and do it again when it is warmer. We went in early April and a cold front had come in making it very cold especially because of all of the water crossings. I recommend wearing shoes that you don’t mind being wet.

Well marked trail, though I was coming from the HTS rec area counter clockwise and the scenic trail fork wasn't evident enough for my comfort. Though it might be better marked coming the other direction. As it's the beginning of the season there are a few felled trees and some overgrown areas. There was one particularly (looked fairly newly) tree downed across the trail was that was quite challenging to navigate. I believe it was the west side of snake mountain somewhere. Otherwise a pleasant and surprisingly quick hike. Lots of campsites all around. Some of the trail had fresh horse tracks, (handy when I thought I was losing the blazes) but which also meant horse discharge on trail. This smell doesn't bother me but I can see if others find it off putting. (just watch your step) :)

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