Ouachita Geo-Float Trail In Arkansas

Here is everything you need to know about the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Arkansas
  • Length: 16 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: https://www.ouachitamaps.com/geo-float-trail

The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail, located in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma, has a rich historical background that dates back centuries. The trail follows the scenic Ouachita River, which has been a significant waterway for Native American tribes, explorers, and settlers throughout history. The name “Ouachita” itself is derived from the Choctaw word meaning “good hunting grounds.”

Before European settlers arrived, the Ouachita River Valley was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw. These tribes relied on the river for transportation, trade, and sustenance. The Ouachita River served as a vital route for Native Americans to travel between the Mississippi River and the Red River.

In the early 1800s, European explorers and fur trappers began to venture into the Ouachita River Valley. The river became an important trade route for the fur trade industry, attracting French, Spanish, and American traders. The establishment of trading posts along the river facilitated the exchange of goods between Native Americans and European settlers.

As the region became more settled, the Ouachita River played a crucial role in the transportation of goods and people. Steamboats were introduced in the mid-1800s, revolutionizing travel and trade along the river. These steamboats transported timber, cotton, and other commodities, contributing to the economic growth of the region.

Today, the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail allows visitors to experience the historical significance of the Ouachita River firsthand. Along the trail, remnants of old trading posts, steamboat landings, and other historical sites can still be found, providing a glimpse into the past. The trail not only showcases the natural beauty of the area but also serves as a reminder of the river’s historical importance in shaping the region’s development.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Talimena State Park – Located in Oklahoma, this is the starting point of the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. It offers camping facilities and access to the trail.

2. Winding Stair Trailhead – Situated in the Ouachita National Forest, this trailhead provides access to the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers and offers parking facilities.

3. Cedar Lake Recreation Area – This recreation area is located near the town of Heavener, Oklahoma. It offers camping, fishing, and boating facilities, and serves as an access point for the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.

4. Big Cedar Trailhead – Located in the Ouachita National Forest, this trailhead provides access to the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. It offers parking facilities and is a popular starting point for hikers.

5. Queen Wilhelmina State Park – Situated near Mena, Arkansas, this state park offers camping facilities and access to the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. It is a scenic starting point for hikers.

6. Shady Lake Recreation Area – Located in the Ouachita National Forest, this recreation area offers camping, fishing, and boating facilities. It serves as an access point for the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.

7. Lake Sylvia Recreation Area – Situated near Perryville, Arkansas, this recreation area offers camping, fishing, and boating facilities. It provides access to the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.

8. Pinnacle Mountain State Park – Located near Little Rock, Arkansas, this state park offers camping facilities and access to the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers.

9. Lake Maumelle – Situated near Little Rock, Arkansas, this lake offers boating and fishing facilities. It serves as an access point for the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.

10. Lake Ouachita State Park – Located near Hot Springs, Arkansas, this state park offers camping facilities and access to the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. There may be additional access points or trailheads depending on the specific sections or segments of the trail.

Transportation Available

1. Ouachita Express Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from various trailheads along the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.
2. Ouachita Taxi – Local taxi service offering convenient transportation options for hikers and visitors exploring the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.
3. Ouachita Adventure Rentals – Rental service providing bicycles, kayaks, and other outdoor equipment for transportation and exploration along the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.
4. Ouachita Trail Rides – Horseback riding service offering guided tours and transportation along the scenic Ouachita Geo-Float Trail.
5. Ouachita River Cruises – Boat tours and transportation services along the Ouachita River, providing a unique way to experience the Geo-Float Trail.


The amenities available at the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at the trailhead and at designated camping areas.

2. Parking: There are parking areas available at the trailhead and at various access points along the trail. These parking areas provide a safe and convenient place to leave your vehicle while enjoying the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail offers designated camping sites along the trail. These sites are equipped with amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, and tent pads. Camping permits may be required, so it is advisable to check with the trail authorities beforehand.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas are equipped with picnic tables and may also have grills or fire pits for cooking.

5. Fishing Spots: The trail passes through various bodies of water, including rivers and lakes, providing opportunities for fishing. Anglers can enjoy casting their lines and trying to catch a variety of fish species.

6. Boat Launches: The trail offers boat launches at certain points, allowing visitors to access the water and explore the area by boat or kayak.

7. Hiking Trails: In addition to the floating experience, the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail also offers hiking trails that run parallel to the water. These trails provide opportunities for hiking and exploring the surrounding natural beauty.

8. Wildlife Viewing: The trail is known for its diverse wildlife, and visitors may have the chance to spot various animals and birds along the way. Binoculars and cameras are recommended for wildlife enthusiasts.

9. Interpretive Signage: Throughout the trail, there are interpretive signs that provide information about the natural and cultural history of the area. These signs offer educational opportunities for visitors to learn more about the environment and its significance.

10. Scenic Views: The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail offers stunning scenic views of the surrounding landscape, including forests, mountains, and water bodies. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature and capture memorable photographs.

It is important to note that amenities may vary depending on the specific section of the trail and the facilities provided by the managing authorities. It is advisable to check with the trail authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on amenities and any additional services available.

Nearby Services

1. Ouachita National Forest – Offers camping and lodging options along the trail.
2. Lake Ouachita State Park – Provides camping, cabins, and a marina with boat rentals.
3. Hot Springs National Park – Offers various lodging options and access to restaurants and emergency services.
4. Mount Ida – A small town with lodging, dining, and emergency services nearby.
5. Mena – Provides lodging, dining, and emergency services for trail users.
6. Talimena State Park – Offers camping and cabins near the eastern end of the trail.
7. Queen Wilhelmina State Park – Provides lodging, dining, and emergency services near the western end of the trail.
8. Poteau – A town with lodging, dining, and emergency services located close to the trail.
9. Waldron – Offers lodging, dining, and emergency services for trail users.
10. Shady Lake Recreation Area – Provides camping and limited emergency services along the trail.

Ouachita Geo-Float Trail Difficulty Notes

The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail offers a moderate level of difficulty for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning approximately 54 miles, this trail provides a unique experience as it combines hiking and floating along the scenic Ouachita River. While the trail is well-marked and maintained, it does require some navigational skills and physical endurance. Hikers should be prepared for uneven terrain, river crossings, and potential obstacles such as fallen trees. Additionally, the trail can be challenging during periods of high water levels, requiring careful planning and adaptability. Overall, the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail offers a rewarding adventure for those seeking a moderate level of difficulty in a beautiful natural setting.

Features And Attractions

The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail is a scenic water trail that stretches for 70 miles along the Ouachita River in Arkansas. Along this trail, you can find various scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail:

1. Ouachita River: The trail follows the beautiful Ouachita River, offering stunning views of the water and surrounding landscapes.

2. Ouachita River Whitewater Park: Located in Malvern, this park offers exciting whitewater rapids for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts.

3. Ouachita River Bluffs: As you paddle along the trail, you’ll encounter picturesque bluffs that rise above the river, providing breathtaking views.

4. Rockport Limestone Quarry: This historical site showcases the remnants of an old limestone quarry that operated in the early 1900s.

5. Iron Mountain: This natural landmark is a prominent peak along the trail, offering panoramic views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains.

6. Hot Springs National Park: While not directly on the trail, Hot Springs National Park is nearby and definitely worth a visit. It is known for its thermal springs, historic bathhouses, and beautiful hiking trails.

7. Ouachita National Forest: The trail passes through parts of the Ouachita National Forest, providing opportunities for camping, hiking, and wildlife spotting.

8. Lake Ouachita State Park: Located near the trail, this state park offers camping, fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities. It is also home to Lake Ouachita, one of the largest man-made lakes in the region.

9. Ouachita River Wildlife Management Area: This area along the trail is known for its diverse wildlife, including deer, turkey, waterfowl, and various fish species.

10. Historic Downtown Arkadelphia: As you approach the end of the trail, you’ll pass through Arkadelphia, a charming town with a historic downtown area featuring unique shops, restaurants, and architecture.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can experience along the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail. Exploring this trail will provide you with a memorable journey through the natural beauty and rich history of the Ouachita River region.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is only permitted in designated areas along the trail.
3. Campfires are allowed only in designated fire rings or grills.
4. Littering is strictly prohibited. Visitors must pack out all trash and leave no trace.
5. Hunting or fishing is not allowed along the trail.
6. Motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorcycles, are not permitted on the trail.
7. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work. Check with local authorities for any closures or restrictions.
8. Respect private property and do not trespass on adjacent lands.
9. Swimming or diving in the water bodies along the trail is at your own risk and not supervised by park authorities.
10. Follow all safety guidelines and regulations provided by the park authorities.
11. Overnight camping requires a permit, which can be obtained from the appropriate authorities.
12. Leave natural and cultural features undisturbed and do not remove any plants, rocks, or artifacts from the trail.
13. Be aware of and respectful towards wildlife encountered along the trail. Do not feed or approach wild animals.
14. Bicycles are allowed on certain sections of the trail, but riders must yield to hikers and follow all trail rules.
15. Use of drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles may be restricted or prohibited along the trail. Check with local authorities for specific regulations.

Seasonal Information

The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Located in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma, this trail offers a unique experience of floating down the river while exploring the stunning geological formations and scenic beauty of the area. When planning your visit, it’s important to consider the best times of the year to fully enjoy this trail.

One of the best times to visit the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail is during the spring season, particularly from April to May. During this time, the weather is mild, and the river is usually at its highest levels, making it perfect for a leisurely float. The surrounding forests come alive with vibrant colors as wildflowers bloom, and the wildlife becomes more active. It’s a great time to witness the beauty of the area and enjoy the tranquility of the river.

Another ideal time to visit is during the fall season, from September to November. The foliage along the trail transforms into a breathtaking display of autumn colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for your float. The weather is generally pleasant, with cooler temperatures and lower humidity, making it comfortable for outdoor activities. Fall also brings fewer crowds, allowing you to have a more peaceful and intimate experience on the trail.

It’s important to note that the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. From December to February, the trail is closed due to colder temperatures and potential hazardous conditions. The river may freeze, and water levels can be unpredictable during this time. It’s best to plan your visit outside of these months to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail are during the spring and fall seasons. These periods offer pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and a chance to witness the natural wonders of the area. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the seasonal closures during winter and plan your visit accordingly. Whether you choose to explore the trail in the vibrant spring or the colorful fall, the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail promises an unforgettable adventure for nature enthusiasts.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trailhead: The trailhead of Ouachita Geo-Float Trail is designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, providing a smooth and level surface for easy access.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trailhead, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are provided along the trail, equipped with appropriate facilities and ample space for maneuverability.
4. Wide and Paved Pathways: The trail features wide and paved pathways, allowing wheelchair users to navigate the trail comfortably and safely.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to be accessible, providing wheelchair-friendly tables and seating options.
6. Accessible Fishing Spots: Designated fishing spots along the trail are accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to enjoy fishing activities with ease.
7. Accessible Viewing Platforms: Scenic viewing platforms are designed to be accessible, providing wheelchair users with an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
8. Accessible Interpretive Signs: Informational signs along the trail are designed to be accessible, featuring large fonts, braille, and wheelchair-friendly viewing heights.
9. Assistance Animals Allowed: Service animals are permitted on the trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the necessary support during their visit.
10. Accessible Camping Facilities: Campgrounds near the trail offer accessible facilities, including campsites, restrooms, and showers, catering to the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Flash floods: Sudden heavy rainfall can cause flash floods along the trail, posing a safety risk.
2. Wildlife encounters: Hikers may encounter various wildlife species, including snakes and bears, which can be potentially dangerous if not approached with caution.
3. Slippery rocks: Wet or moss-covered rocks along the trail can be slippery, increasing the risk of falls and injuries.
4. Extreme weather conditions: The trail is exposed to extreme weather conditions, including high temperatures, thunderstorms, and strong winds, which can pose safety hazards.
5. Limited cell phone reception: Some areas along the trail may have limited or no cell phone reception, making it difficult to communicate in case of emergencies.
6. Remote location: The trail passes through remote areas with limited access to medical facilities, requiring hikers to be self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies.
7. Poisonous plants: Hikers should be aware of poisonous plants, such as poison ivy and poison oak, and take necessary precautions to avoid contact.
8. River crossings: The trail includes several river crossings, which can be challenging during periods of high water flow and require careful navigation.
9. Falling trees or branches: Due to the natural environment, falling trees or branches can occur, posing a risk to hikers.
10. Trail maintenance: Some sections of the trail may require maintenance, including fallen tree removal or trail repairs, which can temporarily affect safety.

Conservation Notes

The Ouachita Geo-Float Trail, located in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma, is a unique water trail that offers visitors the opportunity to explore the scenic beauty of the region while engaging in various recreational activities. In terms of conservation status, the trail is considered to be well-preserved and protected, ensuring the sustainability of its natural resources and ecosystems.

The Ouachita National Forest, where the Geo-Float Trail is situated, is managed by the United States Forest Service, which prioritizes the conservation and preservation of the area’s natural and cultural resources. The forest is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including several rare and endangered ones. Efforts are made to maintain the integrity of the forest ecosystem, ensuring the survival of these species and their habitats.

To protect the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail and its surrounding environment, regulations and guidelines are in place to minimize human impact and preserve the natural beauty of the area. These measures include restrictions on camping locations, fishing regulations, and guidelines for waste disposal. Additionally, educational programs and initiatives are implemented to raise awareness among visitors about the importance of conservation and responsible outdoor recreation.

Overall, the conservation status of the Ouachita Geo-Float Trail is considered to be in good condition. The collaborative efforts of the United States Forest Service, local communities, and visitors contribute to the preservation of this unique water trail and its surrounding natural resources, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy its beauty and ecological significance.

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