Explore the most popular views 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.

hiking
1 day 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 days ago

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

Fun FIRST trail for my friends and I. We've been wanting to get our feet wet and this trail was perfect! It challenged our conditioning a bit and yet we still were able to enjoy the trail and scenic views. I would definitely recommend this trail/National Park to everyone! Can't wait to get back in October!! We saw several water moccasin snakes however as long as you respect them, keep your distance and go about your business all should be good. Happy Trails!

backpacking
6 days 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.

backpacking
9 days ago

Beautiful trail! From the Albert Pike Recreation Area, we drove about 6 miles of gravel roads to get to the Little Missouri Falls. We started at the Falls, backpacked for one night and came back out. The trail was fairly easy with some ups and downs. There were a few stream crossings, but the water was not super high in mid May. There was plenty of water for filtering, but not too high to make crossing difficult. This was our first time backpacking with our two large breed dogs, and it was the perfect trail. There were several great campsites along the trail that were easily accessible. Would highly recommend!

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.

12 days 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
14 days 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.

16 days 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!

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..

hiking
18 days 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!

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.

1 month 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
1 month 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.

Nice trail, well marked.

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

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.

1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 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
2 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.

Great trail. I used the fork trail to train for Mt. Rainier.

My wife and I just completed this Trail 2 days ago and we loved it! We are relatively newbies when it comes to hiking alone so we bought a map and a suunto m3 compass, which both definitely came in handy several times throughout the hike. Watched a couple YouTube videos on orienteering and we were good to go. Although the trail is marked really well with white blazes, the south end of the trail requires you to follow the yellow blazes, which is marked on the map. Also, there were several times where the trail forked without blazes and we weren't sure which way to go and the compass helped a lot with that. We started off at around 11 a.m. at the Little Missouri trailhead on the northwest corner of the trail. We hiked counter-clockwise like several on here recommended and I am so happy we did because the six mountains will wear you out quick and it's better to get them out of the way first when you have all the energy. We stop on top of the last Mountain and set up tent at Eagle Rock Vista and enjoyed the view to ourselves all night long. I would definitely recommend camping here if possible. On the second day we made it past Albert Pike campsite and called in the woods about 5 miles away from our car. Overall, we couldn't have asked for better weather or a better Trail. We also saw one deer and two snakes. There are plenty of water sources along the way so bring your Sawyer water filter to fill up. One more important thing, bring water shoes to cross at a few below the knee river crossings and if you think you can Riverstone hop, just switch to River shoes and don't chance it. I made that mistake and cut my shin open on a rock and embraced wet boots the rest of my hike. My shin is still extremely swollen and cut open, so again, just switch to water shoes.

hiking
2 months ago

Excellent trail for Arkansas. Not for beginners. We clocked in a little over 31 miles over 3 days at a leisurely pace. I would recommend travelling clockwise on the loop however. The south sides of the ridges were far more forgiving that the steed, straight north side trails. All in all a great hike.

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.

Load More