Eagle Rock Loop

HARD 317 reviews
#1 of 24 trails in

Eagle Rock Loop is a 28.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Caddo Gap, Arkansas that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
28.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,005 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

rocky

Directions from Glenwood area: There are 5 trailheads. (1.) Albert Pike Recreation Area off Highway 369. ( 2.) Little Missouri Falls on Forest Road 25. (3.) 4 miles west of Little Missouri Falls on Forest Road 25. (4. &5.) east of Bard Springs Recreation Area on Forest Road 106.

hiking
3 days ago

Hiked this clockwise from winding stairs last week with my brother and his son. What we loved about the trail: there was a lovely stream along the trail at almost every point along the way, the campsites were plentiful and well-maintained, there were beautiful wildflowers blooming, and for the most part the All Trails app was incredibly helpful. Some downsides: the trail is pretty poorly marked, the peaks are below tree line (so no rewarding views after the pretty challenging climbs), the footing is tricky in multiple areas due to small sharp loose rocks. It was a great workout and we had a great time. We chose it after scratching our plans to hike in NC due to less chance of rain. None of us had cell signal for the three days we were on the trail, but that is a plus to me. We hiked Sunday to Tuesday, only seeing three people early Sunday, and no one else the rest of our hike. Loved getting to cool off in the stream at the end of each day, and grateful for the - very basic but functional - showers in the bathrooms at the entrance to Alber Pike Park.

15 days ago

My husband and I hiked this loop in two days. We got the summits knocked out the first day. The 5th summit is by far the hardest depending on which direction you start. If you have the time you should camp out on top of one of the mountains. They each have a campsite set up and the views are amazing (and the only part of the entire loop where you get some cell service). We hiked the first part of August and there was always a great breeze....never too hot. The Little Missouri trail had some areas we got turned around and was not marked very well but beautiful views. You definitely need water shoes!! Make sure you have great shoes...the majority of the trail is over rocks so your feet will be sore! Beautiful hike and highly recommend

1 month ago

beautiful and challenging. well worth the trip.

hiking
1 month 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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.

hiking
2 months 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 months 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.

3 months ago

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.

3 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
3 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!

3 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
3 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!

3 months ago

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.

3 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
3 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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.

4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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.

4 months ago

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

4 months ago

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
4 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.

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