Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Ozark 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.

Unusual place for a trail head — behind a couple of camping sites at Redding. But a perfect hike for me. A good uphill to a great midpoint – Spy Rock. Then a good descent back to Redding campground. Btw, did I mention that Redding is on the Mulberry River? A dip in the river is a perfect way to top off a great hike. Note: the a- and descent each have spots of (what I consider) narrow trail, especially given one side of the trail is pretty much straight down. Those spots are definitely doable, but I felt a heightened sense of caution traversing those stretches.

I’ve only done the Gunner Pool to Blanchard Springs section of this trail (and back in the same day) and it was something I’ll never forget! It was simply gorgeous and so varied, yet mild enough that we completed this trek in a day with one adult and 4 children (ages 10, 8, 6, 4). By the end we were all exhausted, in the best way possible, and had all taken turns carrying the 4 year old. Both campgrounds have toilets, but only Blanchard has showers and such. I can’t wait to take another bite out of this trail!

An amazing trail. We traveled up the west side part of the loop. It took us about 2 hours to reach the top. The view is worth the climb. Heads up that while it looks overgrown, the actual summit itself is pretty clean and a great spot to camp. Also watch out for the ticks. There’s plenty of them to go around. :)

We took the trail from the Redding Campground, where it is well marked. This is a beautiful hike, but there are no markings when you hit the East/West division about how many kilometers the hike is. There was no information at the campground about the trail, so we figured it was a 2-3 mile trail, easy for a quick afternoon hike. However we soon realized that the "loop" was farther up the mountain than we thought, and we had to turn around after 2 hours and head back down because of the bad weather coming in. Please have someone mark the trailhead with a distance for the loop!

Beautiful easy hike. Lots of forest and cool rock formations. Recommend!

backpacking
1 month ago

Great trail for a day hike or overnight backpacking. This was our first backpacking trip and we had a blast. Great place to hammock camp right on the rock overlook. Trail is well marked and maintained. Both of us are beginners but are in good physical condition; it took us about 2.5 hours to reach the rock and about 1.5 hours to hike back down.

The whole 23 miles is wonderful, absolutely one of the best Arkansas trails, and also one of the finest trails in the southeastern U.S. Six trailheads make it perfect for day trips or camping in Forest Service campgrounds, and backpack camping is allowed.

Was not paying close attention to the length of this trail when we hiked it. Was very long... but there are several waterfalls along the way. It really is worth the distance. I had a puppy and 2 7 year old kiddos who enjoyed it!

I'd rate this trail as moderate. The trail is narrow but slopes gradually and has only a few rugged areas. The trail is well-marked and -maintained. There are more sources of water on the east loop than the west, but I suspect that those will disappear during the dry season. There is no water source at the summit campsite, but the view is great. We arrived just in time to see the sun set.

One more thing. The trailhead is no longer at Redding campground. It is located on a small dirt road just east of the campground off the main highway. The new parking lot is located directly on the east loop. The spur leading to Redding campground still exists though. Make sure you don't accidently take it and end up in someone's campsite like we did.

backpacking
2 months ago

Great little hike. Definitely not a hard trail. I would say moderate at best.

This is one of my favorite places! Take a picnic and plan to spend most of the day. Work your way down to the bottom of the waterfall, and then climb down and explore the caves that wind around the bottom of the pedestal rocks trail. Very fun day out! Great for kids, too.

easy to follow, well kept and all around great trail!

hiking
2 months ago

This is a fun hike, is mostly covered, and has a breathtaking overlook at the end! We went up on the west side trail and down on the east, though you could easily choose the opposite. There are camp sites along the east side. The east side also has bluff overlooks and waterfalls, but it is more rocky. If you’re starting on the west side, make sure to not turn prematurely when you’re getting close to the top - pass the road closed sign on the trail as the trail shoot off for spy rock is clearly marked with brown/yellow wooden signs. There’s great hammocking and two camp sites at top of spy rock! Might have to pay $3 for parking so bring cash.

When you get to the trail, you will park on the side of the street with the sign marking the OHT. However, the trail actually starts ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD. There is another trail that starts in the same side as where you park, but that is not this trail. It’s well maintained and not terribly challenging. You will be up in the mountains, but there wasn’t a ton of stuff to see. Still I nice walk though.

We hiked from Barkshed to Gunner Pool and back. It was beautiful. Both recreation areas are a great place to bbq and relax after a rigorous hike

Absolutely LOVE this trail! I've taken my kids many times for a quick day hike. Such a beautiful trail and the lookout is so amazing! My go-to place when needing some mountain therapy!!

Quiet, secluded, and beautiful. Very well marked and maintained in the Winter. Don't miss the detour to the view at Spy Rock, one of the prettiest around. If you're going to park near the trailhead be sure to bring $3 and a pen to fill out your day use tag and envelope.

My girlfriend and I backpacked this trail in October and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. The leaves were only beginning to change colors but still, much to see. Our goal was to camp on top of Spy Rock so we reached the top after only a few hours of hiking. We crossed several dry creeks and found nowhere to replenish our water. However, we prepared for this and packed plenty of water as most of Arkansas is dry during that time of year. The trail is moderately inclined going to the top of the mountain. I would not say it was difficult. Once at the top we found a few great primitive campsites. The view was beautiful. A must see. We enjoyed plenty of time to relax at the top (bring a hammock) before cooking supper and turning in for the night. Sunrise from the top was spectacular and we broke camp after saying goodbye to another backpacker who also camped at the top. I can't remember if we hiked this loop clockwise or counterclockwise but we did see a few trickling waterfalls on our hike out. This was a short overnight trip but left us plenty of time to get done with Sunday chores once we were back home. I certainly recommend this hike.

We walked about 3 miles in and then back (we had two kids and they got tired). . Good trail for young kids (5 and 7) with some slight climbs and some nice views of the hills and bluffs. Not the most scenic trail ever, but again, we didn’t go the entire way.

Great hike and amazing views. Stunning geological formations!

Did this yesterday. Great trail.

The trailhead has been moved from the Redding campground to a little parking area 1/4 mile further down the highway. All the signage at the new trailhead is missing so it was a total guess where to go but we got it right. From the parking lot, follow the trail that starts out the back of the parking lot and turns right toward Redding campground. It will take you to the intersection of the old trail beginning and the west and east loops, We met another hiker on the trail that said the old trailhead at Redding was just across from the restrooms.

The trail spends a good amount of miles along bluffs, teasing you with views of the valley through bare trees. Sometimes the trail is narrow and the bluff drop off very severe, but nothing too scary. The trail meanders through both deciduous and pine forest but stays primarily in the woods. At this time of year, the leaves are deep enough to obscure ankle rolling rocks, so be careful and you might want to opt for ankle high boots for support. The creeks were all dry but some rock formations on the east loop surely make some awesome waterfalls after a rain.

Spy Rock is a nice view for a lunch break. Plenty of big rocks to sit on while you enjoy the view. Looks like enough space for 2 campsites at Spy Rock, would make a great side trail for someone backpacking the OHT.

The combined route, which share the same trailhead, is a great trail with good views and fascinating rock formations. It makes a good backpack camping trip.

backpacking
7 months ago

North Sylamore Trail Review.
Loved it! I’ve written several reviews and have been
excited to finally get a piece of this trail and write a solid review! 3 of us backpacked from Cripple Turkey to Allison Nov 9 through Nov 12th. We used Sylamore Creek Camp ‭+1 (870) 585-2326‬ as transport to the trailhead. (Great service) we hit the trail head around 11:30 am and began. I preface by saying we normally push it hard but wanted a trip we could relax on. We hiked 10 miles Day 1 and camped at Barkshed Campground. When you cross the river bridge at Barkshed continue up the dirt road a few hundred feet turn left on first dirt road you will find a great Pavilion, outhouse, Trashcan and fire pit for night one camp. On this section it is up and down switchbacks most of the time (PACK LIGHT) I had 60lbs on my back and that sucked! Most of the entire trail is very rocky with what I call ankle breakers, rocks golf ball size to softballs. In the fall trail is leaf covered and the rocks are hidden (I hurt my ankle pretty bad in first 5 miles) this isn’t the most scenic section but still good. Lot of the trail is narrow and slanted down mountain so your ankles constantly taking a beating (good shoes are imperative and trek poles) No water on Day one so pack it in! DAY 2 (there is river water here to filter) we woke up Friday morning had breakfast and camp fire (temp around 34°) around noon we hit the trail and trekked approximately 5.1 miles to Gunter Springs. This section is pretty awesome. You hike up and over several bluffs as you can see in my pics. Just a very scenic hike. Very little water as most of the time as you are up high above the river. We only saw one rat snake on the trail and a chipmunk. Gunter Springs is a great little camping area. When you cross the river bridge you will see all the camping available. DAY 3 Gunter springs to Blanchard Springs, we did some side sight seeing so our mileage was nearly 7 miles. This was my FAVORITE section of the trail. The trail changes topography so much. You find the two biggest climbs on this Section with great Vista views. You can check out my recorded tracks I’ve labeled camp areas (not campgrounds) we wished we had know about. When coming down the mountain you will see a sign that says Blanchard Springs upper camp, that’s you! If you don’t take that trail you will walk an extra 1.5 miles plus a wet water crossing to get there. Great camping grounds with bathrooms, showers, and more. Here we hitched a ride in the back of someone’s truck up the mountain and did the Caverns Tour ($10.50 each) I highly recommend this. Amazing Caverns. Ask for Uncle Dale at the Caverns and tell him I sent you(he will know us as the 3 guys he gave a ride back to the campgrounds) he will say “Right On Brother” every other sentence haha. DAY 4 Blanchard to Allison was another incredible hike. You will go through Jungle, Forest, grassy lands, massive bluffs, and caves. Once you get into the rocky caves every corner is a more impressive cave or waterfall area (take time to take it all in) this Day was just over 6 miles for us! All in all it was a great trail. As always if you have questions I’d love to help you Chris (405) 201-5869 also checkout my other hikes at http://www.ChrisGeeAdventures.com

It was a decent outing. All the trees were still changing colors so it was pretty. However, some people were camping up on Spy Rock which just made that part non-enjoyable and quick. I would like to come back in the raining season and see the waterfall.

backpacking
8 months ago

New trail head is located NE of the parking lot of the trail head. Do not take the trail head located in the new trail head parking lot

Gunner Pool to Barkshed. Good hike. Nice scenery. Overgrown in some areas but very manageable. Did not see another person on hike. Campgrounds at Gunner and Barkshed are great! Well taken care of!

The trail was clear up into about 100 yards then it was overgrown and we didn't see a marker after that. We ended up making our own way until we couldn't go any further which was almost 2 miles. We did find a place to camp which was beautiful. Drove 3 hours to hike 2 miles. I don't recommend it.

backpacking
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Yes!

backpacking
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Good early season hike to get back into backpacking shape! It should be only be rated moderate, with some elevation gain and rocky stretches. Blue blazes on the trail could use some repairs, but the trail was always easy to find with good signage. Water was abundant all along the trail except for the Spy Rock section. Spring was just starting to hit the higher elevations, with some dogwood flowering and the trees just leafing out. It seems like they recently did a prescribed burn here, as the understory vegetation was very sparse.

I paid $3 and parked in the Redding campsite overnight, although I'm sure parking in the Spy Rock parking area would have been fine. Even though the Redding campsite looked full, I saw no one else on the trail both days. I took the east loop and camped at the second waterfall. There was very little flat ground, but it worked. Be warned, there is a lot of ATV noise along the east loop at night.

I went up to Spy Rock the next day, which was less elevation gain than I expected. I found a smoldering fire at the top--shame on the campers who stayed there the night before! I put it out with the extra water I brought with me. The view from the top was well worth the hike!

The west loop was all downhill and very easy but not very interesting.

backpacking
Monday, April 10, 2017

Completed Barkshed to Allison yesterday. The trails were very well maintained and we only ran into 4 humans on the trails! Please note: The total trip was 13.75 miles not 3.1 as shown on this site.
Camping on Sylamore Creek the night before was just the icing on the cake! The most beautiful hike in Arkansas!

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