Ouachita National Recreation Trail

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Ouachita National Recreation Trail is a 223-mile long hiking trail through the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas. About two-thirds of the Ouachita Trail is available to mountain bikers; the entire trail may be used for hiking and backpacking.

The trail's western end is at Talimena State Park in southeastern Oklahoma. Its eastern end is at Pinnacle Mountain State Park near the Natural Steps community in central Arkansas. The western 192 miles lie in the Ouachita National Forest. The eastern-most 31 miles, maintained by Pinnacle Mountain State Park, crosses land owned by timber companies and Central Arkansas Water. The trail passes through eight counties in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma. From east to west they are Pulaski, Perry, Saline, Garland, Montgomery, Yell, Scott, and Polk, in Arkansas, and Le Flore County in Oklahoma, where the trail ends. At several locations the trails switches back between two counties. Scott County has very little of the trail, with a couple of small corners of the county traversed.

Friends of the Ouachita Trail [1] is a volunteer group devoted to maintaining the trail.

While well-maintained, the trail is lightly used in many sections. in its December 2000 issue, Backpacker magazine ranked Ouachita Trail as third in the nation for solitude [2].

Geography and climate

High point on the trail is 2,610 ft on Rich Mountain, which straddles the Oklahoma-Arkansas state border 46 miles from the western end of the trail. The low point is 270 ft at the entrance to Pinnacle Mountain State Park on the eastern end of the trail.

Because of heat, humidity and biting insects, best times to hike the trail are the early spring and autumn. From July to September, weather tends to be too hot and humid to hike comfortably, and water access points tend to dry up.

Connecting trails

The trail meets the 37.8-mile Womble Trail north of the community of Story, Arkansas. The Arkansas River Trail connects the Ouachita Trail's eastern terminus to downtown Little Rock, 17 miles away, via Two Rivers Bridge (bridge opened in August 2011).

References

Friends of the Ouachita Trail http://www.friendsot.org/about_the_trail

Backpacker magazine, December 2000 http://www.backpacker.com/december_2000_destinations_oklahoma_arkansas_ouachita_trail/destinations/1960

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