Ouachita Trail

The Ouachita National Recreation Trail, or simply Ouachita Trail, runs 223 miles across the Ouachita Mountains from Talimena State Park near Talihina Oklahoma to Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock Ark.  See below for maps.

Section information

  • Section 1 – Talimena St Pk to Winding Stair campground – 23.7 miles.  Apr ’15 trip (east of Deadman Gap)Apr ’15 trip (west of Deadman Gap).
  • Section 2 – Winding Stair campground to Queen Wilhelmina St Pk – 27.9 miles.  Apr ’15 trip.
  • Section 3 – Queen Wilhelmina St Pk to US-71 – 16.5 miles.  Apr ’15 trip.
  • Section 4 – US-71 to Big Brushy Rec Area – 26.4 miles.  Mar ’15 trip.
  • Section 5 – Big Brushy Rec Area to AR-27 – 27.2 miles.  Jan ’15 trip (east of Rainy Creek).  Feb ’15 trip – west of Rainy Creek.
  • Section 6 – AR-27 to AR-298 – 17.1 miles.  Jan ’15 trip.
  • Section 7 – AR-298 to AR-7 – 21.6 miles.  Dec ’14 trip and this too.
  • Section 8 – AR-7 to Lake Sylvia – 27 miles.  Nov ’14 trip.
  • Section 9 – Lake Sylvia to AR-10 – 14.6 miles.  Nov ’14 trip (west of AR 9).  Feb ’15 trip (east of AR 9).
  • Section 10 – AR-10 to Pinnacle Mtn St Pk – 20.5 miles.  The campsites at mile 206.8 and 212.3 do not exist any more.  There is now just one legal camp site between mile 192.5 and 222.5, at the end of a 0.9-mile spur from mile 208.4.  I visited this “camp site” in Apr ’16 and found it to be a complete waste of time.  Most of the area surrounding the spur was being actively logged – as in 98% of the trees gone.  The camp site itself is untouched in a fenced area between the near-clear-cut and a gas line cut.  It has several pad sites but watch out for the broken glass.  There is no fresh water available along the spur or anywhere near the camp.  Feb ’15 trip.

Major trail heads

  • Talimena State Park: 34.783486,-94.951080.  $5 day-use fee for parking.
  • Winding Stair Campground: about 34.714804, -94.679640.  $3/night at backpacker’s camp, $5/night at main campground.  There is no potable water at either campground despite the USFS website.  There is a small creek south of OK-1 near the east end of the Mountain Top Trail that might have water.
  • Queen Wilhelmina State Park: trail head parking in train depot lot at 34.685383,-94.372917.
  • US 71: 34.682077,-94.180821.  Big parking area on west side of road.  Eastbound: walk across highway.  Trail now runs parallel to and left of the forest road instead of on the road.
  • Big Brushy Rec Area: The campground is officially closed – this is a day-use area now.  Turn off US-270 onto FR-6 at 34.685893,-93.810028.  Parking area is 34.685176, -93.810326 (2 right turns after leaving highway).  Eastbound: walk on FR-6 back out toward the highway, look for a trail sign on the right about 30 feet from the highway.  Westbound: walk south on FR-6 about .25 miles, watch for a trail sign on the right (the second sign, I think.  The first just indicates the trail is on the road at that point).
  • AR 27: 34.758527,-93.494474.  A 100-yard driveway on the west side leads to a parking area.  The trail passes right by there.
  • AR 298: 34.689644,-93.336553.  A wide area on the north shoulder of the road.  West-bound: cross the river on the bridge then look for a trail sign on the right side.
  • AR 7: 34.774235,-93.088334.  A large parking area on the west side of the highway.  The trail runs along the other side of the creek – cross the wooden bridge and you’re there.  West-bound is to the right, east-bound to the left.
  • Lake Sylvia/FR 152: about 34.858512,-92.817276.  Very limited parking and not marked.  An alternative is to park in a large lot at 34.863319,-92.818478 near the Lake Sylvia Rec Area entrance and then take the spur trail across the road 0.4 miles to the OT.
  • AR 10: 34.872227,-92.653183.  There is a picnic area at the south end of the bridge on the east side of the road.  There is no water hydrant and there doesn’t appear to be a way to park there without occupying a picnic site.  There is also some parking at the north end of the bridge on both sides of the road where the trail crosses.  Westbound: the trail is directly across the highway from the picnic area.  Eastbound: walk along the east shoulder of the highway to the bridge, then over the rail onto the “sidewalk” at the edge of the bridge and across.  On the other side of the bridge is a path in the grass continuing north about 100 yards to the trail sign at the edge of the woods.
  • Pinnacle Mountain State Park (visitor center).  Trail head is in the lower parking lot at 34.844711,-92.463701.  If leaving a vehicle overnight you must register, or risk having it towed.  They are open 0800-1700 every day except some holidays (in that case register by phone in advance).  The park gates open at 0630 and close one hour after sunset.

Shelter Locations

34.7719, -94.8541 Rock Garden
34.7467, -94.7684 Holson Valley
34.7092, -94.6774 Winding Stair
34.6624, -94.6043 Pashubbe
34.6928, -94.4522 State Line
34.6907, -94.3103 Black Fork Mountain
34.6865, -94.1744 Foran Gap
34.6763, -94.0119 Turner Gap
34.6687, -93.8566 Brushy Mountain
34.6918, -93.7223 Fiddler Creek
34.7242, -93.6286 Suck Mountain
34.7266, -93.5405 Story Creek
34.7520, -93.4846 John Archer
34.7435, -93.4277 Bill Potter
34.7348, -93.3561 Big Branch
34.7164, -93.2895 Blue Mountain
34.7250, -93.1892 Big Bear
34.7654, -93.1063 Moonshine
34.8197, -93.0331 Oak Mountain
34.8742, -92.8688 Brown Creek
34.8522, -92.7955 Nancy Mountain
* Latitude & longitude are WGS84

Useful External Resources

Shuttle Services

Bluebell Country Store & Cafe, NE corner of AR-298 & AR-27, Story Ark, (870)867-3999.   About $1/mile.  They seem willing to cover at least the area between AR 9 and Big Brushy Creek Rec Area, maybe more.  Especially useful for hikers of Ouachita, Womble, and Lake Ouachita Vista trails.


Maps

Here is the complete set of maps in a 29-page PDF.  These will be at 1:24000 scale when printed on 11×17 paper.  I get this stuff printed at The UPS Store.  I think many Staples, Office Depot, etc locations can also do it.  Every time I update a map the file will have a different name so if you want to bookmark or share it, link to this page – not directly to the file.

Updated Mar 10 2017 (v5a). Changes since v5:

  • Pages 7, 8, and 25 were updated to fix a cosmetic issue.  The detail in the 1:12000 scale insets for Queen Wilhelmina State Park and Lake Sylvia should not have been visible in the 1:24000 scale main map area.

Updated Feb 17 2017 (version 5).  Changes since v4:

  • I’ve incorporated actual data for the Story Creek, Suck Mountain, and Turner Gap shelters built in the Fall of 2016 to replace the pre-build guesstimates (maps 11,12,15,16,17).
  • I’ve added data for US & State highways, and some other roads near and relevant to the trail.  This is currently only roads within the state of Arkansas.  I haven’t yet located Oklahoma data.
  • There is now a semi-transparent red mask over property within the national forest that is not owned by the national forest.  This could be owned privately, by the Corps of Engineers, or by state/county/local entities.  This can make it easier to avoid trespassing when traveling off-trail.
  • The information box on each page has been shrunk and the legend now appears on every page instead of just the first.

Updated 8-10-16 (version 4).  Changes since 1-21-16 (version 3):  All of the trail data is now fresh – collected in 2015 and 2016.  Map 1 now has a legend.  Map 8 now includes the Black Fork Mountain trail and an inset to show details around Queen Wilhelmina State Park.  Map 13 now includes all the secondary trails around the Big Brushy Recreation Area.  Map 25 has an inset to show details around Lake Sylvia.  I have included estimated locations for 11 mile markers I was unable to locate – they have an “e” suffix.  Map symbol styles have been updated to make them a bit more readable.

Updated 1-21-16 (version 3).  Changes since the 10/16/15 version: I’ve now got the entire trail mapped, though some of the data is old and unverified.  All the shelters are shown – even the 3 (Turner Gap, Suck Mtn, Story Creek) that have not yet been built.  Some of their locations are approximate and are noted as such.  I’m using new symbols (and still don’t have a legend!).  I now show the national forest, wilderness, and state park (AR only) boundaries.

Background:  For many years, the ultimate source for ONRT (and many other) maps has been OuachitaMaps.com. Charlie’s maps have been the model for my own fledgling map-making efforts so you’ll see similarities and these maps each cover the same area as Charlie’s so they’re kinda interchangeable.  So what’s the difference?

  • My GPS track is more recent and includes several reroutes – both big and small.
  • I’ve got more of the mile markers and all of the shelters.
  • Mine are rendered at 300 DPI for sharper detail.
  • Mine don’t (yet) have all the secondary trails that Charlie’s maps have but I do have some that he doesn’t.

Good places to eat after a hike

Jessieville: The Shack, closed Sunday, cash only, 7901 N Highway 7

Mena: Branding Iron BBQ & Steak House, open Sunday, 623 Sherwood Ave

Perryville: Mustang Sally’s, open Sunday, 303 W Main

Perryville: Jones Family Restaurant, open Sunday, 1542 Highway 9 South

Story: Bluebell Country Store & Cafe, open Sunday, NE corner of AR-298 & AR-27