Ozark Highlands Trail

There are presently four parts of the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT):

  • The Boston Mountains segment runs 164 miles between Lake Fort Smith in the west and the Woolum ford of the Buffalo River in the east.
  • The Buffalo River segment runs about 43 miles along the Buffalo River from the Richland Valley to AR-14 (Dillard’s Ferry), sharing the route of part of the Buffalo River Trail.  Then there is a 16-mile bushwhack through the Lower Buffalo River Wilderness.
  • The Sylamore Section runs about 32 miles through the Sylamore area of Arkansas (roughly south of Norfork Lake).
  • The Lake Norfork segment.  There is about an 8-mile gap between the Matney Knob trail head and the Norfork Dam. Much of this is private property but a road walk is doable. The Tracy Arm section runs north from the dam about 13 miles to a trail head at CR 1028. There is an 18-mile gap. David’s Trail runs north about 17 miles from Robinson Point to the Red Bank Recreation Area. There is a gap of about 7 miles to the state line.

Note that all coordinates below use the WGS84 datum.

Jan 30 2018 update: The reroute around the May 2017 landslide at about mile 152 is complete.  There is no longer any need to detour.


Useful resources:


Boston Mountains Segment

Important note:  Between April ’16 and August ’17, the Ozark Highlands Trail Association removed old carsonite post mile markers and installed new markers in locations that correspond to the maps now sold by OHTA.  The new markers are 12″ pieces of carsonite attached to a tree horizontally near eye level.  Most markers have moved east by at least a mile.

See below for my maps.  The trail is divided into 8 sections, mostly for descriptive purposes.  Each section is about 19 miles except #4 which is about 30.  There is a major trail head at each end of a section and typically some lesser-used or less-accessible access points in between.

Major and minor trail heads (mileages listed below are using the new markers):

  • Lake Ft Smith (mile 0): 35.69462, -94.11849 – behind the visitor center at the end of a sidewalk that winds down the hill.
  • Dockery’s Gap (mile 9.25): 35.70706, -94.03782
  • White Rock Mountain (mile 17.4): Parking area at 35.68953, -93.95447.  Head ESE to the end of the road and look for signs.  There is a 0.3 mile spur from the top down through the bluff and intersecting the OHT.
  • FR 1509, aka Ragtown Road (mile 24.75): 35.68374, -93.89797
  • Cherry Bend (mile 35.3): Park at 35.74332,-93.81155.  Across the highway is a short spur that leads to the OHT.
  • Morgan Fields, aka Hare Mountain (mile 43.1): 35.72585, -93.75539.  There is a large clearing on the east side of the road for parking, and a trail head sign.  A short spur goes east-ish to the OHT.
  • Indian Creek: Park at 35.68363,-93.71038.  The gate for this canoe launch area might be closed (a seasonal thing?).  A 0.7-mile spur trail begins across the highway, heads toward the creek, then upstream, then switchbacks up the steep slope before eventually intersecting the OHT at about mile 50.8.
  • Lick Branch (mile 55.1): 35.71000, -93.66157.  The trail runs along the south edge of the parking area.
  • Arbaugh Road (mile 69.9): 35.75765,-93.52795
  • Ozone Campground (mile 84.7):  35.67298,-93.45078.  Trail head parking is across the road and a bit north of the campground entrance.
  • Big Piney Creek, aka Fort Douglas (mile 103.8):  35.67795,-93.23807.  If you’re eastbound, walk along the road and across the bridge.  Turn left at the first road (5881?) and watch for signs to leave the road to the right.  Westbound: go out the back of the parking area.
  • Fairview Campground (mile 123.8): 35.73875, -93.09376.  There is a very short spur from the parking area at the north end of the campground.  Potable water available.  Hankins General Store in Pelsor is out of business.
  • Moore CCC area: 35.77269,-92.989215.  There is parking for 2-3 cars on the left just before you get to the gate (private property beyond).  The blue-blazed spur follows the fence west and then turns south through the woods.  It’s about a 15-minute walk to the old CCC area and OHT junction at mile 133.1.
  • Ben Hur (mile 134.5): 35.75370,-92.98230.  The sign on road NC 5050 calls this the “Moore OHT Trailhead”.
  • Richland Creek Campground (mile 143.2): The entrance to the campground is at 35.79644,-92.93032 and there is a parking area there for people not camping.  Walk back out to FR 1205.  Across the road and a bit to the left you should see a marker where the trail comes out of the woods to cross Richland Creek on the bridge.  Go that way if you’re headed south/west.  If you’re headed north/east, then follow the road across the bridge to where it turns sharply left.  At this point the trail leaves the road a bit to the right.  There are some posts for an old trail head sign and watch for blazes.
  • FR1201 (formerly called Stack Rock) (mile 150.8): 35.86666,-92.92369.  Southbound: walk back out to the road and keep going south (to the right) a short distance (< 50 feet?) and you’ll see the trail on your left coming out to the road.  Northbound: go through the gate at the back of the parking lot, down the road a bit and the trail leaves the road to the left.
  • Woolum ford (mile 164): Parking at 35.97194,-92.88621.  The area where the river was historically forded has gotten relatively deep.  Head upstream about 150 feet where you see riffles that signal a shallower area.  The trail heads northwest along county road 14 (not often used because getting to it now requires fording either Richland Creek or the Buffalo).  Water levels can be too deep for a safe crossing after big rains.  If you want to continue east on the BRT, go south on a road through a small hay field along Richland Creek.  A couple hundred yards upstream from the mouth watch on your left for openings in the brush where you can get down to Richland Creek and cross in shallower water.  On the other side follow the white blazes SSE to the base of a hill, then turn ENE and continue parallel to the base of the hill to a set of steps.

Maps

The map set consists of 16 pages in 2 PDFs.  Pages 1-8 cover the area from Lake Fort Smith to Ozone.  Pages 9-16 cover just east of Ozone to the Richland Valley and the Woolum ford.  Each page will be 1:24,000 scale when printed on 11×17 paper.  I get this stuff printed at The UPS Store.  I think many big-box office supply stores can probably do it too.  Every time I update the maps the files will have different names so if you want to bookmark or share them, link to this page – not the files.

Dec 17 2018 update: The coverage area for many pages have been adjusted, permitting me to drop one page.  Orange lines show how adjacent pages overlap.  The OHT is portrayed as continuing along the Buffalo River where it shares the route with part of the the Buffalo River Trail (BRT).

Feb 15 2018 update: At mile 151.4, part of the trail abandoned during the Stack Rock Reroute is being retained as a spur to Stack Rock Falls (map 16).  Wildlife Management Area (WMA) boundaries are now shown.

Jan 31 2018 update: Map #16 includes the Jan 27 ’18 reroute near mile 152 (around the May ’17 landslide).

The Ozark Highlands Trail Association sells a pair of maps for this section, with the west map covering Lake Fort Smith to Ozone and the east map covering Ozone to Richland Valley.


Sylamore Section

This section has “mile” markers that start at 0 at the Spring Creek trail head and run east and north to Matney Knob.  Water is not available at very many places so you will likely either have to cache it or plan to carry a lot.  Based on my one trip, I think the most likely places to find water are: Spring Creek (mile 8), Moccasin Spring (mile10.3), Twin Creek (mile 22.5), and Walker Creek (mile 25.5).  Cole Fork near mile 14 had water but there was no flow and lots of pig crap.

Trail heads

  • Spring Creek (mile 0) 36.05301,-92.44501
  • Moccasin Springs (mile 9) 36.02983,-92.35291
  • Cripple Turkey (mile 14.4) 36.05655, -92.31844
  • Brush Creek (mile 18.1) 36.10046,-92.32681
  • Matney Knob (mile 31.6) 36.21423,-92.30819

The trail also crosses AR-341 on the south side of Matney Knob at 36.20480, -92.32127 and near the Lone Rock community at 36.14182, -92.33538.  Both crossings have a paved area where you can pull off the road while caching water.

Maps

Here’s a map in the form of a 4-page PDF, from the GPS data I collected during a Nov ’16 trip.  Each page will be 1:24,000 scale when printed on 11×17 paper.  I get this stuff printed at The UPS Store.  I think many big-box office supply stores can probably do it too.  Every time I update the maps the file will have a different name so if you want to bookmark or share it, link to this page – not the file.

Mar 7 2017 update: Added part of the North Sylamore Creek Trail to map 2.  Added an information box with trail head coordinates to each map.

Dec 6 2016 update: Added some of the more important roads in the area.

The Ozark Highlands Trail Association sells a map that covers this section (and more).



Good places to eat after a hike:

Dover: Dewayne’s BBQ & Grill, 9185 Hwy 7 N

Hagarville: Hagarville Grocery

Oark: Oark General Store & Cafe,

Ozark: Zack’s Pizza & Grill, 2913 W Commercial St

Ozone: The Burger Barn

 

9 Responses to Ozark Highlands Trail

  1. Baylee Hendrickson says:

    I hate your site. I need yearly infomation. More infomation. Less blogging.

    • Michael R says:

      What is “yearly information”? The trail heads are in the same place they were last year. The trail length hasn’t changed, the tread location hasn’t changed (though some will in Jan ’18). It looks about the same year-to-year.

  2. ML says:

    Seriously, thank you so much for taking the time to upload this info. You are an indescribable asset to the thru-hike I’m about to complete. You’re amazing!

  3. Rick Schumacher says:

    Great job with this Michael! Soooo helpful!
    Hope to see ya on the Trail! 🙂

  4. Do you recommend this Sylamore trail or the OHT sections 1-4 for a 3-4 day backpacking trip March 25-28? (two groups, switching keys halfway through)
    Thanks for this detailed info!

    • Michael R says:

      Of those choices, I think sections 3 & 4 would be most enjoyable, or just #4 if you need fewer miles. I think section #5 is my favorite, with #6 right behind.

  5. Claudia and Andrew Carberry says:

    Do you know of any local outfitters that will shuttle hikers for this section??

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