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Ozark Highlands Trail is a 156.7 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Winslow, Arkansas that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 156.7 miles Elevation Gain: 23,622 feet Route Type: Point to Point

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

rocky

Directions from Lake Fort Smith State Park: Travel 1/4 mile east off U.S. 71 north of Mountainburg; watch for highway sign on U.S. 71 for turnoff to park entrance. Eastern terminus: Tyler Bend Campground on the Buffalo National River; U.S. 65 at Silver Hill

hiking
1 month ago

Walked 2 miles of trail. Nice trail. Small natural waterfall. Well maintained. View of the lake off and on.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Great trail so far. As two semi older ladies going and also beginners we were only taking a short hike. We did approximately 6 miles but ran out of time. Once taking the hike decided we would love to go backpacking here! Now I am training myself for backpacking since I have only been serious about hiking for about a mth now. Looking forward to the day I am ready to backpack this one!!! Forgot to mention I had an abundance of ticks on me when going. Just had to keep aware since I don’t like bug killer chemicals on me.

Great trail but watch out for poison ivy, it is everywhere. Some spots of the trail are a little overgrown and the grass rubs on your legs.

hiking
3 months ago

As I continue to section hike the full trail,. This time I started at Rosetta and hiked to Fairview Trail head. Originally started at Lake Fort Smith State Park. This has been an extraordinarily enjoyable hike for me and the beautiful Ozark Mountain‘s. Stunning vistas, Probably saw 1000 waterfalls this time as the leaves are just starting to bud out. I have about 43 miles to go to get to Wollum and I will have hiked the full trail

backpacking
6 months ago

My wife and I had planned to thru-hike approximately 140 miles of this trail, from the western endpoint of Lake Fort Smith to Richland Creek Campground. (It's another 24 miles to the eastern endpoint at the Woolum Campground on the Buffalo River but to finish the trail and get to the road you actually have to ford the Buffalo River. If it's been raining all week, you're screwed. Given that we had to plan our pickup in advance, we opted to get off at Richland.) Due to knee issues, however, we ended up quitting a little over 100 miles in at Haw Creek Falls. Overall, this is a wonderful hike to do in the winter. There are no ticks/chiggers, snakes, or bears (mostly) but you may get lucky and see a buck (like my wife did) or an armadillo. The weather for our week on the trail was ideal: high 50s, nothing lower than 25 at night, and, aside from >1" rain one day, entirely dry walking. That rain made a big difference for the better and worse: better because you'll never have to worry about finding water to filter and the waterfalls swell with beauty, worse because flat parts of the trail get muddy and the creeks also swell. The Fane Creek crossing was a bit treacherous for us at first, but we were eventually able to find a safe way across. Generally speaking, the further west we went, the less people we encountered. But even though you feel remote and isolated, you're only ever usually a few miles from a forest road. Others wrote that the trail was hard to follow in poorly blazed areas, which had me worried. But I found that the tread is easy to follow 99% of the time and the blazes show up often enough to make me confident I was on the right trail. Could be different earlier in the season (autumn) when the leaves are freshly fallen and the tread is harder to see. Another reason to save this for winter? And, to above point, the further east we went, the more instances we encountered (still infrequent) where we had to double check we were on trail. Other things to note: *As others have noted, the trail can be pretty rocky at points. Will do a number on your ankles and knees. *The OHT guide and maps are super helpful: http://timernst.com/Products/OHT.html *As Tim Ernst notes in his guide, there are many places along the trail worth spending time in and exploring. We couldn't do this given the thru-hike, but taking it slow may be the better way to explore this trail. *We definitely saw kids on the trail between Lake Fort Smith and White Rock Mountain. That's a 17-mile hike that includes a couple creek crossings, so you may not want to do that all at once. But I'm sure a couple strong kids could do it! *Yes, Ozone has a burger stand, but it's currently only open Fri/Sat/Sun from 11 AM to the evening. Nothing like a half-pound burger after a week on the trail!

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
7 months ago

Generally nice trail A few mundane areas But...lots of rocky tread...hard on feet More importantly...some poorly marked areas. Poor....when leaves have fallen and in rough rocky areas...there is no visible sunken tread or corridor. The blazing is frequently insufficient to follow trail. You depend on intuition, looking for sawn logs, because theres no blazes where they should be. You SHOULD be able to see next blaze , from a blaze. , this is not so very often. The chief maintainer wants blazes 130 steps apart...i was told. By a trail worker. .its ridiculous.....it doesnt work in some areas. If you have no trail to follow....you have no trail. I met people that gave up because they couldnt follow it after richland campground, taking an hour or more to go 1/2 mi. At that pace...it wrecks plans. Seriously needs to be blazed better for when leaves obscure trail. Particularly eastern end .should not need to spend 20 min trying to find trail or next blaze , when standing by one.

hiking
8 months ago

So far my favorite day on those are Calen trail was a section. Some moderate strenuous but moderately length climbs the sense. But the time especially have a bout 2 miles in the creek bottom he just magical

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Hiked from Shores Lake took the west loop to the Ozark Highlands Trail east to Ragtown approximately 15 miles. West loop challenging with quite a bit elevation gain. Trail was generally rocky and narrow. Stayed at campground near the falls about 3 miles into the hike. Enough flat area for several tents and stone fire ring. Note there are two camp sites so be sure to walk in about 30 yards to find the second site. Hiked up White Rock Mountain challenging no great views but likely needed to walk rim trail to see anything. Continued onto Ragtown campsite. Hike was predominantly down quite buggy! Also had to cross a creek so bring some water shoes! Campsite at Ragtown is at the base of Potato Mountain located right next to Spirts Creek-decent campsite with easy access to water. The last two miles to Ragtown you pass some nice waterfalls and must traverse Spirits Creek. The rest of the trail to the Ragtown parking lot is narrow with many downed trees...it needs some maintenance! Overall, a challenging but rewarding 15 miles.

hiking
10 months ago

Has anyone done this with kids? If so, how old were the kids, how was the experience and what was there fitness level before the hike?

hiking
bugs
over grown
washed out
Sun May 26 2019

hiking
Fri Apr 05 2019

Uphill battle for the majority of the trip. Plenty of streams for drinking, once you cross the HW it gets easier. Hare Mtn is a pretty steep i cline.

hiking
Mon Apr 01 2019

Great hike from Indian Creek down to Lick branch, roughly 1100 feet elevation climb in a slow and steady & the same on the downhill. Impressive little Mulberry. Glad there was a bridge. We hiked on east to the campsite up on top of the mountain. Another beautiful creek with multiple waterfalls and rock-bottom again, gorgeous! We filled with water at the little Mulberry, Not knowing what was ahead. We probably crossed five nice streams, with the last one before camp being the biggest and definitely the most impressive. There was plenty of water. We will break camp in the morning, which will be our last of the four nights camping. We will then hike up to where we left my car with a shuttle. Approximate 6 miles ahead. Great hiking trip, beautiful views during leaf off, amazing sights

hiking
Sun Mar 31 2019

Hare mountain to Indian Creek. Just as per Tim Ernst’s guidebook, several boot beautiful creeks, waterfalls, rock formations, Vista are great just as the leaf buds are popping out but no leaves.. Beautiful day after a cool start. Beautiful hike. Wet crossing across Indian Creek as we had at Fain Creek area

Fri Mar 29 2019

Day 1 of 5 of continued hike across OHT. Hiked Ragtown to Fane creek to camp

Thu Feb 07 2019

I've hiked this trail in sections, have a couple more to go. It's on my bucket list to backpack the whole thing from one end to the other. It has some real challenging areas, Highly recommend this trail, but not in the Arkansas summer heat. That leaves 3 seasons, go for it.

backpacking
Wed Oct 24 2018

Beautiful trail. Hiked from White Rick Mountain to Spirits Creek. Camped the night. Hiked back to Salt Fork Creek. Camped the night again. Then, returned to White Rock Mountain the next morning. Both Salt Fork Creek and Spirits Creek were flowing well as were many small streams along the way. Excellent time!

Mon May 28 2018

Awesome place!

hiking
Tue Mar 13 2018

Hiked section 1 from Lake Ft. Smith to Dockery's Gap and loved it. We did the 9 or so mile stretch in a little over 4 hours but didn't stop much. It was fairly cold so we didn't go through too much water, i carried about half a gallon and had some left over but there was plenty of running water to treat and drink if needed. Frog Bayou was about knee high and freezing but luckily i had a towel so i crossed bare foot and dried off before putting my socks and boots back on. Lots of up and downs but nothing too arduous until the last mile or so when there is a good climb back up to Old Locke Road (FR 1007). Overall it was a great hike with lots to see and I can't wait to get back out there and hike the rest of the OHT.

hiking
Wed Mar 07 2018

It is a very nice trail with lots of creek crossings, a few nice valley views, not too many tho! and small and pretty waterfalls here and there. We hiked the whole trail in early March and took 6 days to complete it, we found no snow and no bugs. It's not very difficult in terms of elevation or terrain but there are a few sections where the trail is badly maintained or poorly visible. Barely met anyone on the trail and we had fun but not sure I would do the whole trail again.

Sat Mar 03 2018

Thru hiked 125 miles of this trail. From fort smith to Fairview mountain what a journey. So beautiful although very secluded which is what makes it so great but also sucks when you forget important things or need to shower but we made it work! Never saw another hiker on the trail but the campsites were an awesome tool. Definitely recommend a map that has the campsites on it. We went at the end of September and first week of October, weather was perfect with only one day of rain!

hiking
Fri Feb 16 2018

Spent the night after doing first 7 miles of section 1 from Lake Fort Smith State Park at end of January 2018. The trail was in good shape and the short part I did was not too hard. Got up early and drove from OKC (easily doable as weekend trip) and finished the 7 miles at about 3 PM. They had a little rain the night before, about half and inch I believe, and all of the springs were running. I have a feeling it doesn't take much so expect it to be wet with any rain. The frog bayou crossing is something to consider, but a guy a talked to said that it's the highest he had ever seen and it was maybe knee high, so it should rarely be a problem. Anyone considering this part I would recommend do not start at the state park if you want to have that remote ozarks feel. Otherwise, great trip, I would highly recommend it!

backpacking
Thu Nov 02 2017

It keeps steep in parts but it was still a lot of fun

Wed Nov 01 2017

Love this trail! Beautiful vistas and waterfalls (in season). Challenging climbs at times. Also, creeks can be dry when rainfall is low. Always be prepared. Glad it is close to OK.

Tue Oct 17 2017

Great hike

hiking
Sun Apr 16 2017

Did section 2, in April. The weather was great. Section 2 is roughly 19 miles. Very rugged. You will definitely want to have sturdy boots, strong soles. Camped on the river at a primitive camp at mile 6. Roughly 6 miles further is another chance to stop by a river and eat lunch and recharge. Stock up on water there for the push on to the end of section 2. the final 6 have a lot of up, and no water. Great hike, great backpacking. Tough sledding but worth the effort.

Mon Mar 20 2017

Never ending climbs, it's awesome!

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