The Smith Creek Preserve is about 1300 acres of classic Ozark scenery just a few miles south of Boxley Ark. It’s owned by The Nature Conservancy – a terrific organization, is bordered on the south by the Ozark National Forest and the west by the Buffalo National River, and is open to foot traffic only. This was my first visit and I was eager to see some new scenery.
A 2-night trip with a couple friends from Kansas City (RC & TC). It was the first time seeing most of this stretch from east to west so some of it seemed unfamiliar. The weather was pretty good, maybe a bit on the warm side – an odd thing to say in February. The low temperature on night #2 was about 60 F.
I was finally able to get out and see the final 3 shelters built on the Ouachita Trail – Turner Gap, Suck Mountain, and Story Creek – all finished last fall and bringing the shelter count up to 21!
My OT maps will soon be updated with these actual locations in place of the guesstimates. This next version will also feature markings for relevant area roads to make them more visible.
Story Creek shelter
Suck Mountain shelter
I made my first visit to Heber Springs AR, over in the general vicinity of Greers Ferry Lake, where many hiking trails are being developed. The only place I was able to hike this time was Sugarloaf Mountain. This is the one SE of Heber Springs – not the one in Greers Ferry Lake.
I’ve kept busier than it might appear, but much of my hiking recently has been on trails I’ve covered before and I haven’t found anything new to say about them. I’ve nearly finished hiking the OHT again, for instance, and have been collecting GPS data this time around. I’ll soon publish a set of maps for the whole trail, with the new mile markers, private property boundaries, many well-known waterfalls, etc.
In the mean time, I’ve recently published maps of the East Fork, Hurricane Creek, Richland Creek, and Leatherwood Wildernesses and the Redding/Spy Rock Loop. The wilderness maps are rather bare-bones now but as I get out and explore more of those areas I’ll add to them.
Dec 22 update: I’ve also updated my Buffalo River Trail maps. They now include a section of the trail that had not previously been published.
This 31.6-mile trail, disconnected from the rest of the OHT west of Richland Creek, had been on the to-do list for a long time and is now checked-off – mostly – after a 4.5 day trip over the Thanksgiving weekend.
I say “mostly” because I skipped the western-most 3.5 miles this trip because I’ll be back in the area next weekend and will finish it then. The Ozark Highlands Trail Association is having a meeting at the Moccasin Springs trail head 12/3/16 @ 9:00 AM followed by a short hike of about 4 miles east from the Spring Creek trail head (and then a bushwhack up to shuttle cars on Rand Road).
The area between Morgan Fields and the Indian Creek spur was the only part of the OHT that I had hiked only once before, and that was on my very first OHT hike 5 years ago, so I was way overdue for a return trip. I’ve now hiked the entire OHT twice, and much of it 3 or more times.
At the high point, we had more than 20 people for our fall 2016 Buffalo River Trail work session based at Tyler Bend. The crew was able to lop brush and clear trees from most of the 35+ miles of trail that is open between Wollum and AR-14.
The Fall 2016 trail building session in the middle Buffalo River area is set for October 18-29 (maybe the 30th too?). We will be camping at Tyler Bend (hot showers and flush toilets!). Look for our headquarters – the big white wall tent – in either the main campground or the group campground. I’m not sure precisely where we’ll be but that tent is hard to miss. Our workday usually starts around 8:30 AM so be there before then.
The private property situation that has blocked us for a couple years is still not resolved so the focus will be on improving other parts of the trail.
The Park Service provides free camping, potable water, and tools. Bring your own gloves, water containers, food, cooking and camping gear. Whatever your abilities, we’ll find something for you to do – for a day, a weekend, or longer.
October 13 update: We’ll be camped in the main campground (the “peanut loop”) near the bathrooms, not in the group campground.
I thought last year’s trip to Wyoming’s Wind River Range was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing but two of the participants wanted to go back this summer so RC, TC, and I did just that.
This year’s trip was mostly on the west side of the range and a bit further north than last year, mostly in the Bridger Wilderness but partially in the Popo Agie Wilderness. The trip outline: from the Big Sandy Opening trail head go north past Dad’s, Marm’s, Skull, and Mae’s Lakes, then northeast over Hailey Pass and around Grave Lake, south to Washakie Lake, west over Washakie Pass (the high point at 11600′) and toward Skull Lake, then retrace our path south to the trail head. This is described as the Baptiste Lake Loop in Backpacking Wyoming. Part of this lollipop is on the Continental Divide Trail so I’ve knocked off a few more miles of that.
We had great weather, no camp fires due to a burn ban, and a new moon. That all added up to excellent star gazing conditions. I spotted 3 of the 4 constellations I can identify!