My westward march on the Ouachita Trail continues with the completion of the eastern half of section 5 – between AR 27 and Rainy Creek. Features of this section include Curtis, McGill, Chalybeate, Big Round Top, Owens, Rocky Creek, and Suck Mountains, plus Smith, Muddy, Story, Harris, and Rainy Creeks. Suck Mountain didn’t, but certainly would if I were trying to pitch a tent up there. I parked at the AR27 trail head and went west to Rainy Creek, then back. I was expecting it to rain much of Sunday so I planned this as a two-day trip.
At about mile 114.1 on the return trip, I detoured south on the Round Top Trail, which drops very steeply over its 0.85-mile length to a junction with the Womble Trail. In the lower area the trail parallels a very rocky and twisting creek that probably presents some good photo ops when the water is running strong.
The Womble Trail (one of many still on my to-do list) runs about 38 miles southwest from a junction at about mile 117.2 of the Ouachita Trail to North Fork Lake, crossing the western tip of Lake Ouachita. The trails in this area are the site of the Ouachita Challenge – an annual mountain bike race of national reknown.
From the Round Top/Womble junction I hiked about 3.5 miles northeast on the Womble until I intersected the Ouachita Trail. Some of this stretch had been recently logged and much more was marked for the near future, still the trail was passable. I don’t know who maintains Round Top and Womble but it looks like they have kept on top of things. These logged areas are going to be a headache for many years, though, because of the explosion of growth that will follow.
Of the 10 sections and 233 miles of the OT, I’ve now hiked about half of #5, all of 6, 7, & 8, and about half of #9 (miles 105.6 to 191.8), and I’ve done it all twice. Technically, I’ve also hiked about half of section 1 during 3 past trips but I’ll probably do that all over again.