Explore the most popular trail running trails in Ouachita National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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.

this trail is not for the faint of heart.. but it truly is an amazing trail... like all the other comments...I suggest you take water as there is none from the trailhead to Katy falls... were asking the way you can see several breath taking views... VERY nice trail.. yes there is a couple of spots that have you walking threw under brush... but very worth it... I will be doing this trail again with better prep... underestimated this trail... so you should always read the reviews... LoL.. loved it..

Nice trail, well marked.

Like a few others i did the Buckeye Trail down to Caney Creek and then east on the Caney Creek trail over one night. This was toward the end of march, high 60;s outside which was perfect. Make sure you have plenty of water because after the Buckeye trailhaid there is no water till you get to caney creek. I parked at the Caney Creek Trailhead and walked the extra mile back up the road to the Buckeye trailhead. once you get to caney creek and you want to camp stay right at the fork and keep the river to your left for about .15 miles or so and you will find a clearing to camp at. There were plenty of other campsites to stay at as well that people made themselves but they werent in a designated camping area. The hike out of Caney Creek was amazing and super relaxing. Most of it following next to the creek and pretty easy going. Lots of water along the way and a easy 4 miles out.

We paired this trail with the caney creek trail for a nice one night backpacking loop. We parked our car at the east caney trailhead and walked about a mile up the gravel road to the buckeye trailhead. Both trailheads are well marked and have plenty of parking. The buckeye is rated as moderate and I believe that is an accurate description. It’s has some decent climbs but nothing too taxing or that lasts for too terribly long. I read where others had some issues following the trail but we didn’t experience any of this. This may be due to the time of year we went which had decreased underbrush. The views along the ridge of the buckeye were vast and the rock formations along this and the caney were impressive. There’s a few good areas to stop and rest or have a snack. Be sure to pack all the water you will need as there is no water for filtering along the ridge. We hiked about 4.5 miles on the trail (not including the 1 mike hike to the trailhead) and arrived at Katy falls. We ended up camping at a spot above the falls and up the stream a bit. It was secluded and peaceful with a nice fire ring and the stream near by for a water source. The falls were a great place for our dog to swim in the pool below and a great place to hang out for lunch. After a good nights rest we joined up with the caney creek trail and headed east. We passed several nice campsites, both near the stream, where the trails merge. The caney creek trail passed through a beautiful forest area and was near the stream for the majority of the hike. There were several campsites along this portion of the trail as well. As with the buckeye, there were a few areas with some elevation gain but nothing too severe. It’s a shady area for the most part unlike the ridge of the buckeye which could also get a bit breezy. After about 4 miles we were at the east caney trail head and at the end of our hike. This was our first time to this area and we can’t wait to go back again.

In my opinion, this is the best one night loop trail in Arkansas. Big views, great campsites, water features, light traffic. I would warn any prospective hikers that there are no blazes on the trail. If you aren't a competent navigator, you will struggle. Also, getting to Katy Falls is challenging if you don't want to get wet. It's approximately 0.25 miles off trail, up Katy Creek.

hiking
5 months ago

Peaceful, yet unremarkable stroll through the woods over one of the lower sections of Rich Mountain. The real highlight of the day was driving the Talimena Scenic Byway on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. Spectacular views of the Ouachita Mountains! Be sure to enjoy that fresh mountain air.

Absolutely love this trail. I can’t wait to finish it.

When others say the trail is somewhat overgrown I'm assuming they had a better experience than we did. Haha. We went over labor day weekend and the buckeye trail was so overgrown! There were weeds that were taller than me and I'm 5'7. And talk about burning all your energy, wading through a sea of grass and weeds with your 30lb pack. It was quite comical. We even came across someone that was totally off the trail where it turns to the south to go down to caney creek. If we hadn't been there at that time who knows how long the guy would've been lost and the sun was going down fast at that point. Also when coming from buckeye trailhead, about a quarter to half mile the trail comes to somewhat of a fork. One way is straight ahead of you, the other looks like a switch back. Luckily I had read somewhere to not take that "switchback" it's goes to an old mine or something. It took us all of 5 hours to get from buckeye trailhead down to the creek. We camped by the creek and the caney creek trail part was a breeze compared to buckeye. Overall it was an okay trail but in March we did trails in ponca and had to do the same amount of effort for much greater reward.

Hiked this trail Labor Day weekend with my dog. It was a decent trail with nice views. It might be a better trail in the fall/winter when the brush has all died down. There was a ton of bushwhacking to be be done and the trail was extremely tough to follow at certain times. Fortunately my dog kept me on the trail for the most part.

This trail had some spectacular views but was very rugged. The first few miles of the trail was overgrown with the bushes over my head and it was easy to lose the trail and follow a game trail instead. Be aware of what direction you should be heading though and you should be fine, using the map on AllTrails really helped. I will definitely do this one again in a few months!

Overgrown hard to stay on trail.

hiking
8 months ago

We started at 830 am the morning after a light rain. We would suggest long pants and a walking stick to catch the spider and worm webs. Crickets and a few song birds made the trail pass quickly.

Wonderful trail, fantastic views, and lots of wildlife (saw a Western Diamondback rattlesnake!). Only downside is that the trail is very overgrown and poorly marked, but it's manageable for the most part, especially for experienced hikers.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A nice walk through the woods.

hiking
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I night hiked this trail and it was amazing. It actually is a loop trail if you take a short mile walk down the main road between Caney Creek and Buckeye Mountain. The strength of this trail is definitely Buckeye Mountain; if you're into a day hike, I'd recommend doing that as an out and back. I started from Buckeye Mountain and the trail was basically a 45 degree incline for the first 1.5-2 miles. It's rough. The views from the top of the mountain are incredible though. I actually had cell phone service for the mile or two before I started my descent. I set up my hammock and took a nap where Katy Creek meets Caney Creek. From there I lost my trail; the trail isn't marked and is a bit overgrown. After you hit the creek, the hike is cake, basically just rolling hills and crossing over the creek occasionally.

backpacking
Sunday, March 26, 2017

We had the best time. Our dog was happy and so were we. Make sure you have plenty of water if you start at Buckeye Trail head. You have to get down the mountain before you have access to water.

Very moderate. Campsites everywhere. Little traffic. Water tastes very clean.

Good trail with great views!

backpacking
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Great beginner trek. Made the mistake of trying to take on a rainy weekend, ended up having to walk back to my car in pitch black heavy fog while getting completely soaked (it was a learning experience).

My girlfriend and I recently backpacked this trail on a clear weekend in November. The views are beautiful and the trail isn't too difficult as long as you are in decent shape. If you are considering hiking this trail I HIGHLY suggest you read the narrative on ouachitamaps.com and bring a map of course. These resources will help you navigate the trail as there are no signs or mile markers like other trails. However, this trail is well worn and not easy to lose. We parked and started at the Caney Creek trailhead but we hiked a mile up the gravel road to the Buckeye trailhead in order to do both trails as a 9 mile loop. The Buckeye Trail offers stunning views. We hiked 5.6 miles the first day and set up camp at Katy Falls which was spectacular also. We replensished our water there at camp and the water was very clear. The Buckeye/Caney Creek Trail junction is about another tenth of a mile south of the Katy Falls spur trail. We did the Caney Creek Trail back to our car the following day.

backpacking
Sunday, November 06, 2016

Great trail that offers a challenge without crushing you. We started on Caney Creek westbound and turned north then east back to Buckeye Mountain trail head. With only one car we walked from there down the gravel road to the Caney Creek TH where we parked. There is camping available throughout the trail.

backpacking
Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hiked this trail going clockwise from the state park during fall break. Me and 2 friends had a great time and a memorable hike! Have read the other awesome trail reports and thought I would share some lessons learned from my first time on this trail.
1. As others have stated there is no water in the creeks except for 2 ponds close to deadmans gap. There have been some reports that the reliable water source is a mudhole, and there is a muddier pond. One is clear as a bell. This one is on a wide side trail that only leads to the clear pond about 200 yards off the main trail. Pulled out the life straw and hydrated up on the clear cold water.
2. We only cached water at deadmans gap and packed the rest. However, there were plenty of other places to cache! Several gravel roads cross the trail path, which were marked "unpaved trail" on the garmin. Would have been easy to not pack as much water and lighten the load. Look for these roads on google maps or a park map. Several hunter permanant camps are there are the roads are well traveled.
3. Rocks rocks rocks! The trails are extremely rocky most of the way and wearing my stiffer boots would have been a good thing. My lighter boots made the small rocks really get to the bottom of my feet. The rocks didnt make it treacherous, just rougher hiking for your feet and ankles. Plan ahead.
4. Another reviewer posted that he did the trail counter clockwise to do the hard part first. I would choose that route if going again as the ascents were tough at the end when we were out of gas.

Loved this hike! Camped 2 nights. Lots of deadwood. Will go again in the spring when its wetter.

backpacking
Monday, October 10, 2016

Hiked the OT-BST-OMR Loop Trail counterclockwise starting from Talimena State Park on October 7 & 8. Due to my work schedule and the 4 hour drive to the state park, we were unable to hit the trial until 2:15pm. We left the park and hiked the Ouachita Trail portion first because 1) it's the hardest, and 2) I have hiked this section repeatedly and am very familiar with it. We pushed hard but with plenty of stops to take pictures since my hiking buddy had never been on the Ouachita Trail. Reaching the BST junction on the eastern portion of the loop near dark, we pressed eastward down the Ouachita Trail an additional .7 mile (OT mile 9.4) to spend the night at the Rock Garden Shelter. The shelter was a welcome relief since I had worked the night before and was physically and mentally exhausted after being awake for 28 hours. We woke the next morning and after warming ourselves around the fire and consuming a big breakfast we hiked back to the BST junction and dropped into Holson Valley at 8:15am. Never having hiked the BST, I was pleasantly surprised at how different is was from the Ouachita Trail. A soft bed of pine needles covered the trail and the rocks which are an ever-present trip hazard on the OT were much less prevalent. Downhill of course is always faster and we made good time on our descent into the valley. Once down in the valley however the rocky nature of the Ouachita Mountains resurfaced as there are many creek crossings where walking across football to softball sized rocks is required. The creeks were all dry however, and the only concern was sure footing to lessen the risk of a twisted ankle. The trail was very well marked, but with some blazes faded almost to the point of invisibility. I personally like this however. A trail can definitely be over-blazed. At no point did we feel "lost" or have to search for the trail. We met three other backpackers, all hiking solo, as we moved through the valley. Each of them had opted to hike the trail clockwise. To each his own i guess. I prefer getting the hard stuff out of the way while my legs and knees are still fresh. We crossed a dirt forest service road several times and I made a note as to each of their locations so I can cache water/food at these spots on our next trip. As I've mentioned, the creeks were dry and we had to carry all our water. The trail began to become more rocky and overgrown as we continueed our trek back up the mountain on the Old Military Road trail. It is awe-inspiring to realize that this trail, built in 1832 with pick and shovel, once carried wagons and settlers into what was then Indian Territory. The US Army workers who built the road were paid an extra portion of whiskey and 15 cents a day for the backbreaking work of building the road. A humbling experience to so easily walk up the trail that so many worked so hard to create. We crossed the Scenic Drive and began the final return to the State Park, arriving there at 5:45pm. The stretch of trail between the Scenic Drive and the OT is initially very steep and has a very "goat trail" feel to it. Right after crossing a deep gully (with a log across it bearing a white arrow blaze) we happened upon a small camp site that we decided was a waiting point in times of high water in the creek below. The ashes in the campfire were still warm, but we never saw another person in the area. We finished up the trail in almost complete silence, both from exhaustion and from the realization that the trip would soon be over and it would be back to the real world Monday. No matter. I've already planned another trip back to the OT-BST-OMR Loop for next month. It's that good.

mountain biking
Tuesday, August 02, 2016

mountain bikes this trail a few years ago. Some difficult climbs, but beautiful scenery!

hiking
Tuesday, May 03, 2016

This is a nice trail for the kids but not a whole lot to see. It's very well maintained, and easy to walk, but is more of a nature trail than a hiking trail. There is a small pond about halfway through and plenty of wildlife.

hiking
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

This one had some nice views and wasn't too tough.

hiking
Friday, January 29, 2016

The Old Military Road / Boardstand Path/ Ouachita Mountain Trail collectively form a looped hike of about 23 miles, overlapping with many other routes such as the Choctaw Nation Trail and Panorama Vista, through Talimena State Park—and is argued to be the best hike through the hills of Oklahoma. There are a couple instances towards the end that can be confusing: during the final decent to Talihina State Park, there are intermittent yellow blazes because the INT criss-crosses the Ouachita trail several times, but will close on its self where the Ouachita Trail intersects the Old Military Trail. All state park offices were closed except for central location; we saw no water sources on the route, mostly overcast and cold with strong winds in more open areas/higher elevation. Took us about 10 hours to complete. Not the best scenery in the winter, of course, but still very enjoyable.

hiking
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nice short trail.

hiking
Friday, January 08, 2016

Great hike, combine with caney creek east to make the loop, well worth the small climb to the top of the ridge. would love to go back when the weather is better we hiked it in DEC in the rain, but was a good day to be out either way.

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