My first hike on the Black Fork Mountain Trail was more than 2 years ago and I decided it was time for another visit. This is in the western part of the Ouachitas – in Arkansas but pretty near the state line. This time it was an overnight trip, with the night being spent at the new Black Fork Mountain shelter, just 0.2 miles from the junction with the Ouachita Trail. As usual, there was much familiar and some not so much. With a high temp in the low 70’s and an overnight low of 55, it was another January trip that sure didn’t feel like January.
The view south to Rich Mountain looked familiar, with the lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State Park still prominent. This time, though, it’s the new lodge.
The spring at mile 5.1 had a bit of water flow this time. The water in the pool was not appealing but I would have collected some from the short stream running into it if needed. Still, I imagine finding much water here is the exception rather than the rule so don’t count on it. I’m considering omitting it from my map for that reason.
This time, I found The Chimney near the peak at one of the old home sites. I don’t know how I missed it last time as it’s only 15 feet off the trail.
On the way back I bushwhacked about a mile along the north side of the ridge to skip that part of the trail that drops 400′ to go around the rock slide and then back up 400′. At the peak of the ridge there is a lot of dense brush and briars but just below is mostly rather grassy and open with the stunted and gnarly oaks characteristic of that area and altitude. I wanted to get a picture from the top of the rock slide and figured I could peek over the ridge once in a while until I got there but I guess I waited too long for the first peek and missed it.
I got a GPS track so this trail will be added to map #8 in the next revision of my Ouachita Trail map set.
I think there are some horse trails on the west end of Black Fork Mountain