Athens - Big Fork Trail

HARD 26 reviews
#5 of 24 trails in

Athens - Big Fork Trail is a 17.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Mena, Arkansas that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

17.8 miles
5,518 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash





nature trips






wild flowers




Southern trailhead: Take Highway 246 west from Athens to Forest Road 38. Turn right on Forest Road 38 for 9/10 mile. Turn right on Weyerhaeuser Road 53800 for 7/10 mile, then left on Forest Road B23F and follow it 9/10 mile to the trailhead sign. Northern trailhead: Take Highway 8 from Big Fork to Forest Road 38 and turn south. Travel for 1.5 miles to Forest Road B15. The trailhead is at the end of the road.

18 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!

trail running
8 months ago

Excellent challenge for an out and back trail run. Mostly single track, little switch backs. Not a walk in the park.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Definitely a 20mile trail, if you go out and back and do the full trail. Make sure and check out the ranger website to get the map and find the trail heads, of which there are 3. Had a blast though. Absolutely gorgeous and a whole lot harder than we thought it would be. Plenty of water to be found on the three streams and plenty of great camp sites. Only a few ticks, but at night there were plenty of swarming and but not biting bugs. All in all, highly recommend it. Very lightly trafficked.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Awesome trail. Lots a of changes in elevation which made it challenging in a fun way. Everytime there was a clearing in the trees the view was beautiful. A few really pretty streams along the way as well

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hiked this yesterday with a friend, much harder than we thought. We started at B15 hiked to 106 and back. Took us 6 hours. Hurricane Knob, McKinley Mtn, Brier Creek Mtn, and Leader Mtn was a little much for me, as I am not an advanced hiker, yet!!!!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

We did a quick trip up to see some of the views and it was very nice and worth it. We parked at the Athens big fork intersection with the Little Missouri trail. We hiked up to a scenic overlook and then back down. It was steep at times but only took about two hours total. The view was great, even on a cloudy day in march. I hope to come back one day with a smaller group and backpack the whole loop.

Monday, January 16, 2017

this trail is great for someone looking to start doing hard trails, it is well marked and the outlooks are amazing for Southern arkansas.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Would rate this trail "difficult" because of the multiple steep mountain climbs. Inclines, inclines, inclines! Wouldn't make this the last trail if doing the whole ERL. The very top of Brush Heap Mountain had the best view at about 2000 ft. Recommend that overlook.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Great trail, lots of ascents and descents. ABF is broken into several sections (lower,middle,upper), we did mostly lower and some middle. At one "peak" there is a sign that says "cell service" and points up, off the trail, take this trail, it provides spectacular views of the forest and is one of the few spots where you are able to get above the tree line. Challenging trail, but worth it, especially in the fall as colors are vivid.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Steep climbs, nice decents.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Extremely difficult trail. Part of an out and back marathon the first week of January.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My husband and I hiked this trail August 2014. It wasn't marked very well towards the end of the trail, but being August everything was grown up. We encountered a large black bear at the top of the mountain. It was an experience for us considering we had NEVER hiked before!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Athens-Big Fork trail is a very demanding trail that takes you up and over and back down several mountains in 10 miles. the mountain top views and general scenery is well worth the trip. I did it in 5.5 hours, you should alllow at least 8 hours. I pushed hard to do it in the time that I did. It is a point to point trail. However you can combine this trail with a couple of others and make a 25 mile loop trail called Eagle Rock loop.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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Friday, April 24, 2015