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.
- My 16-page map of the 164-mile Boston Mountains segment
- My 4-page map of the 31.6-mile Sylamore segment
- Ozark Highlands Trail Association
- Book: Ozark Highlands Trail Guide (The 6th edition uses the new mile marker locations, older editions use the old locations)
- Maps: OHTA commissioned Underwood Geographics to produce some nice maps. One map covers Lake Fort Smith to Ozone CG, and the other covers Ozone to the Woolum ford. They’re folding maps on waterproof stock, 1:37500 scale with 50′ contours and use the new mile marker locations. Available in the visitor centers of Lake Dardenelle and Lake Fort Smith State Parks. Also: Turner Bend Store, Uncle Sam’s, Pack Rat, Byrd’s Adventure Center, and a few other outdoorsy places in NW Ark. Also: Hagarville Grocery, Oark General Store. Also available directly from OHTA.
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.
- Section 1: Lake Ft Smith to White Rock Mtn (map 1-2). Dec ’13 trip 1, and 2.
- Section 2: White Rock Mtn to Cherry Bend (map 2-4). Dec ’13 trip 1, 2, and 3.
- Section 3: Cherry Bend to Lick Branch (map 4-5). Oct ’11 trip. Nov ’13 trip.
- Section 4: Lick Branch to Ozone Campground (map 6-8). Oct ’13 trip.
- Section 5: Ozone Campground to Big Piney (map 9-11). April ’13 trip. Jan ’16 trip.
- Section 6: Big Piney to Fairview Campground (Hurricane Creek, map 11-12). Nov ’12 trip. Oct ’15 trip.
- Section 7: Fairview Campground to Richland Creek Campground (map 13-15). Jan ’14 trip 1. Jan ’14 trip 2.
- Section 8: Richland Creek Campground to Woolum ford (map 15-17). Jan ’14 trip 1. Jan ’14 trip 2.
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. An October ’21 landslide has destroyed part of the OHT between Cherry Bend and East Fly Gap Rd (about miles 35.4 to 39.1). Hikers are encouraged to walk the roads around this until a major reroute can be finished.
- 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 re-opened in the summer of ’22. Now serving cheeseburgers, pizza, and deli sandwiches in addition to the usual snacks, convenience items, and cold (non-alcoholic) beverages.
- 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.
The map set consists of a 16-page PDF and 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.
Mar 9 2023 update: Most roads are now labeled. Minor style tweaks.
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.
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.
- 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.
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 9 2023 update: Most roads are now labeled. Minor style tweaks.
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:
Hagarville: Hagarville Grocery
Oark: Oark General Store & Cafe,
Ozark: Ozark Burger Co. 303 N 18th St. Zack’s Pizza & Grill, 2913 W Commercial St.
Ozone: The Burger Barn
I hate your site. I need yearly infomation. More infomation. Less blogging.
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.
Don’t be so rude. This guy spent countless hours making this site for strangers to use. At least pretend to appreciate it.
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!
Thanks, and good luck on your hike.
Great job with this Michael! Soooo helpful!
Hope to see ya on the Trail! 🙂
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!
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.
Do you know of any local outfitters that will shuttle hikers for this section??
The OHTA has a list of some services on their FAQ page. Look for the “Are there any shuttle services?” question about halfway down.
I’ve just discovered this trail and your site. I’m planning a 12-14 day (100-120 mile) backpacking trip in mid-July and have read the FAQ page @ OHTA. I have backpacked the entire AT and 1/4 of the Colorado trail and others and I’m trying to decide on a trail this year to hike. It says the trail is not maintained during the summer, so does that mean this trail would not be a good choice for mid-July–don’t want to be bushwhacking? I like mountains. Which section do you recommend for a 12-14 day hike or do you not recommend this trail in July? Also, is there a good map that gives you all the details like camping locations, resupply points, water, shelters if any and elevations? Thank you for what you do!
Mid-July is an awful time for backpacking the OHT. The heat and humidity can be stifling and water supplies become uncertain. Add in poison ivy, ticks, and swarms of black flies.
The maps sold by the OHTA show an elevation profile for the trail and Tim Ernst has a good guide book. There aren’t any resupply points near the trail – you’d have to cache supplies. There are no shelters. Water is usually available at just about any creek crossing but maybe not in July.
Thank you for your quick reply and helpful information! I’ll keep the map/guide book information stored for a better time to hike this trail.
I have hiked the OHT to Wollum and the OT (Ozark). This fall I plan to hike the sections between. I will purchase OHT North map. Do you have any resources to help? I hiked the Lower Buffalo Wilderness this spring with a hiker who had GPS coordinates. Any help would be appreciated. Will begin at Wollum early October.
I’ve got maps and info for the Buffalo River section at https://compulsivehiker.com/trail-info/arkansas-ozarks-trails/middle-and-lower-buffalo-river-trail/ and maps and info for the Sylamore section on this page. I have very little info for the Lake Norfork area but may have a preliminary map ready in the next month.
I am searching for a .gpx file of the OHT and cannot find anything newer than 2004 which still has the old mile markers noted. Any suggestions? Thank you for all of the information!
I haven’t used the site but I hear AllTrails.com (?) has lots of tracks for various places.
Thanks. It does. It does not have a track with mile markers however.
Hello! I am having an extremely hard time finding information on a section of the OHT that would be good for a 3 day, 2 night, long weekend backpacking trip. Water at least once would be needed, but we would also love to see some beautiful parts of the trail. We are moderately experienced backpackers, routinely spending 3 days out and using lightweight gear. Any recommendations or ideas would be greatly appreciated. End of May hike. we know nothing about the OHT
One of my favorite areas is between Ozone & Big Piney trail heads (Boston Mountains section 5, about 20 miles). There are numerous creek crossings so water should be easy to find but the creeks could be hazardous after heavy rains. We are getting into the hot & humid season so that could be unpleasant. Pages 9-11 in my maps.
An alternative would be between Arbaugh Rd & Ozone trail heads (the eastern 15 miles of section 4).
I don’t think my post worked, so I’m gonna try again… Is it possible to hike from the OHT (Tyler Bend) to the Sylamore Trail (at Cripple Turkey trailhead) now? Is the trail done the whole way?
The trail between US-65 & AR-14 is done but east of AR-14 through Lower Buffalo Wilderness is still a bushwhack. It might still be several years before a trail is allowed there.
Cripple Turkey is not the end of the Sylamore section – it’s kinda in the middle. The Spring Creek trailhead is the westernmost of that section but there is 2-3 miles of trail built west of there to the National Park/Forest Service boundary.
I know it’s the middle, but I’m looking for a connection to the Sylamore trail to Blanchard and Allison… thanks…
You’ve still got the 15-mile bushwhack through the Lower Buffalo Wilderness.