The Big Brushy Recreation Area serves as one of the major trail heads for the Ouachita Trail but there are 4 shorter trails that can be combined with the OT to create varying length loops. I hiked the 3.6 mile Brushy Creek Trail about a year ago, but covered the rest of them this time. Mountain bikes are allowed on all except Brushy Mountain Trail.
The 1.25 mile Brushy Mountain Trail runs kinda parallel to the Ouachita Trail but on the north side of a ridge, connecting to the OT at about miles 92.7 and 94.5. It starts out on a bluff above Big Brushy Creek before climbing through the woods to meet the OT.
The 1.75-mile Rockhouse Trail begins at its junction with the Ouachita Trail at about mile 90.3 in a saddle between Rockhouse and Brushy Creek Mountains and descends southeast about 600′ to a trail head at county road 6. The upper part of the trail had the look of being recently reclaimed from Mother Nature, with many down trees very recently cut but still rather brushy in places and lots of fresh blazes. It was easy enough to hike but I imagine the rocky and rutted washed-out areas would make biking pretty tough. The lower 0.75 miles is on an old forest road and held a couple surprises. At one point a ridge runs between two hills, with the road cut or blasted through it. On one side of the road is a natural bridge in the hill above, and on the other side is a waterfall (and I suspect one or two more just downstream) below. There’s lots of interesting geology in that area and I’ve tagged it for a future visit when I can spend all day exploring.
The 1.1-mile Mountain Top Trail descends southeast from its junction with the Ouachita trail at about mile 91.4 – about the same place where the Brushy Creek Trail joins from the north – before turning southwest and intersecting the Rockhouse Trail. This one was also freshly blazed but in better shape overall than Rockhouse.
All three of these trails will be included on map #13 in the next revision of my Ouachita Trail map set.