Explore Ouachita State Park OK - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Ouachita State Park OK Map
VIEW FULL MAP

beautiful and challenging. well worth the trip.

hiking
12 days 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
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.

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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

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
2 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!

2 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
2 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
2 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) :)

2 months ago

Absolutely, my favorite hike in the area. Six Ridge Crossing’s on the north side of the loop are quite taxing. But the scenery and the beautiful forests make it all worthwhile. I plan on doing it again this fall just to experience the different colors.

hiking
2 months ago

It’s a strenuous one, but it’s beautiful! I do wish that they had the trails marked a little more… Sometimes it gets confusing. There are many incredible things to see on this trail though, So I think you’ll be pretty happy no matter what.

hiking
3 months ago

Went with two buddies. Added some extra stuff to make a total of 38 miles in 1.5 days. Was definitely a mental test. Numerous water crossings. Beautiful views. Very rocky terrain. If you aren’t experienced and/or want to enjoy it then take 2-3 days to do. Plenty of options for water refill/filtration. Bring water crossing shoes. Great weekend hike!!

backpacking
3 months ago

One of the best loop trails in the country. Close to thirty miles and very challenging. I only suggest this trail for experienced backpackers. If you are up for it, you will be rewarded with beautiful Arkansas scenery, wildlife, and experiences for a lifetime. Numerous creek crossings, very cold in the winter. Spot your trail across the creek before crossing. Pack river crossing shoes. Most creeks are wet year round. Pack maps with accurate narratives. Tim Ernst's narrative is spot on. The Athens Big Fork section is one of the toughest trails in Arkansas. You will scale 6 mountains. Girlfriend and I hiked this trail in March in three days and set aside an entire day for the ABF section. Took us about an hour per mountain and we are in shape. Plenty of campsites along the trail. I do not suggest camping in low spots near the creeks because these creeks are prone to flooding and are known to claim lives in the process. If you are up for the challenge and prepared, you will have the time of your life!

backpacking
3 months ago

Great trail, well marked and kept. Rained all weekend but did not detract from our enjoyment. The climbs are no joke, and there is a lot of water crossings, so be prepared

backpacking
3 months ago

So fun! Went when it was rainy and 65 degrees. Watch out for poison oak on the trails though. We went along the Little Missouri Falls trails.

backpacking
3 months ago

Well marked trail with several campsites along the way.

3 months ago

Easter weekend ‘18. Suggest doing the west portion first to get the mountains out of the way, as I much regret not doing. Started Fri 10am, finished Sat 2pm. Take the short 3 minute walk side trail at the top of the mountain closest to the NW corner of the loop, amazing views on the huge boulders. The ERL makes me want to move to Ark.

backpacking
3 months ago

Backpacked this loop over the past two days. Started around noon on Friday, hiked 8 miles. Hiked 12 miles yesterday. And another 8 this morning, finished around noon. Really enjoyable and challenging trip. Would 100% recommend starting at the trail head on the app but going in the opposite direction so you can do the bigger climbs sooner.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. Two friends and I decided to challenge ourselves and we completed it in a day and a half. Definitely was a test of the mind and body. Very rocky terrain with great views! Will definitely go back one day.

backpacking
3 months ago

Well marked trail with abundant water even in August. Great views and plenty of campsites to choose from. Perfect hike for a weekend if your ready for two good days of hiking.

hiking
3 months ago

Completed last weekend. Clockwise from Trinity Falls
Weather was great. There are many large campsites. Active springs lots of water. Lots of hikers on the north end. Very enjoyable.

Load More