Ouachita Trail In Oklahoma

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

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oklahoma
  • Length: 223 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Ouachita National Forest
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website: Info not available.

The Ouachita Trail, located in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, has a rich history that dates back centuries. The trail follows the route of the historic Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which was established in the 1970s. However, the history of the area and its usage predates the creation of the trail.

The Ouachita Mountains have long been inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw. These tribes utilized the mountains for hunting, gathering, and trading. Evidence of their presence can be found in the form of ancient artifacts and burial mounds scattered throughout the region.

During the 19th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the Ouachita Mountains. The area was rich in natural resources, including timber and minerals, which attracted prospectors and loggers. The construction of the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad in the late 1800s further opened up the region for development.

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Forest Service recognized the recreational potential of the Ouachita Mountains and began to establish trails and recreational areas. The Ouachita National Forest was established in 1907, becoming the oldest national forest in the southern United States. The Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which later became the Ouachita Trail, was officially designated in 1977, spanning approximately 223 miles from Talimena State Park in Oklahoma to Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Arkansas.

Today, the Ouachita Trail serves as a popular destination for hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts, offering stunning views, diverse wildlife, and a glimpse into the rich history of the region.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Talimena State Park – Located in Oklahoma, this is the western terminus of the Ouachita Trail.

2. Queen Wilhelmina State Park – Situated in Arkansas, this is a popular access point for hikers starting their journey on the Ouachita Trail.

3. Pashubbe Trailhead – Located in Arkansas, this trailhead provides access to the Ouachita Trail and is a common starting point for hikers.

4. Winding Stair Trailhead – Situated in Oklahoma, this trailhead is a popular access point for hikers looking to explore the Ouachita Trail.

5. Lake Maumelle Vista Trailhead – Located in Arkansas, this trailhead provides access to the Ouachita Trail and offers beautiful views of Lake Maumelle.

6. Lake Sylvia Trailhead – Situated in Arkansas, this trailhead is another access point for hikers looking to explore the Ouachita Trail.

7. Flatside Pinnacle Trailhead – Located in Arkansas, this trailhead provides access to the Ouachita Trail and offers stunning views from the top of Flatside Pinnacle.

8. Ouachita National Recreation Trailhead – Situated in Arkansas, this trailhead is a major access point for hikers looking to explore the entire length of the Ouachita Trail.

9. Pinnacle Mountain State Park – Located in Arkansas, this state park offers access to the Ouachita Trail and provides various hiking opportunities.

10. Ouachita Pinnacle Trailhead – Situated in Arkansas, this trailhead provides access to the Ouachita Trail and offers scenic views from Ouachita Pinnacle.

These are just a few of the major access points or trailheads along the Ouachita Trail. There are several other smaller access points and trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Ouachita Shuttle Service – Provides shuttle services for hikers along the Ouachita Trail.
2. Ouachita Trail Rides – Offers horseback riding and guided tours along the Ouachita Trail.
3. Ouachita Trail Taxi – Taxi service available for transportation to and from various points along the Ouachita Trail.
4. Ouachita Trail Bike Rentals – Offers bike rentals for exploring the Ouachita Trail.
5. Ouachita Trail Bus – Bus service that stops at multiple points along the Ouachita Trail for convenient transportation.
6. Ouachita Trail Car Rentals – Car rental service for those looking for independent transportation along the Ouachita Trail.
7. Ouachita Trail ATV Tours – Provides guided ATV tours for an adventurous way to explore the Ouachita Trail.
8. Ouachita Trail Helicopter Tours – Offers helicopter tours for a unique aerial perspective of the Ouachita Trail.
9. Ouachita Trail Water Taxi – Provides water taxi services for crossing rivers and lakes along the Ouachita Trail.
10. Ouachita Trail Limousine Service – Luxury limousine service available for transportation along the Ouachita Trail.


The Ouachita Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Here is a list of amenities available along the trail:

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

2. Parking: Parking areas are provided at trailheads and access points along the Ouachita Trail. These parking lots allow visitors to safely leave their vehicles while they explore the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers numerous camping sites for backpackers and hikers. These sites are equipped with tent pads, fire rings, and sometimes picnic tables. Some popular camping areas along the Ouachita Trail include Winding Stair, Pashubbe, and Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can take a break, enjoy a meal, or simply relax amidst the beautiful surroundings. These areas often have picnic tables and benches.

5. Water Sources: The trail provides access to water sources, such as streams, creeks, and springs. It is important to treat or filter the water before consuming it.

6. Trail Shelters: Along the Ouachita Trail, there are a few trail shelters available for hikers to take shelter in adverse weather conditions. These shelters are basic structures with a roof and sometimes a fireplace.

7. Trailhead Facilities: At various trailheads, you may find additional amenities such as information boards, maps, and sometimes even visitor centers. These facilities provide useful information about the trail and its surroundings.

8. Scenic Overlooks: The Ouachita Trail offers several scenic overlooks where hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. These overlooks often have benches or designated areas to sit and take in the scenery.

It is important to note that amenities may vary along different sections of the trail, so it is advisable to check specific trail maps or contact local authorities for the most up-to-date information on amenities available at different points along the Ouachita Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge – Lodging and dining options located within the state park, offering scenic views of the Ouachita Mountains.
2. Talimena State Park – Campground and picnic areas near the trail, providing basic amenities for outdoor enthusiasts.
3. Mena, Arkansas – Town with various lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, serving as a convenient stop along the trail.
4. Hot Springs, Arkansas – City with a wide range of lodging, dining, and emergency services, known for its natural hot springs and historic downtown.
5. Pinnacle Mountain State Park – Campground and picnic areas near the trail, offering beautiful views of Pinnacle Mountain and the surrounding area.
6. Little Rock, Arkansas – State capital with numerous lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, providing a larger urban experience along the trail.
7. Lake Ouachita State Park – Campground and marina near the trail, offering opportunities for water activities and outdoor recreation.
8. Mount Ida, Arkansas – Town with lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, known for its quartz crystal mining and scenic beauty.
9. Hot Springs Village, Arkansas – Gated community with lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, offering a tranquil setting near the trail.
10. Poteau, Oklahoma – Town with lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, serving as a gateway to the Ouachita National Forest.

Ouachita Trail Difficulty Notes

The Ouachita Trail, spanning over 200 miles through the rugged terrain of Arkansas and Oklahoma, presents a moderate to challenging difficulty level for hikers. With its steep ascents and descents, rocky sections, and occasional stream crossings, the trail demands a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. The constantly changing elevation and uneven terrain can be mentally and physically taxing, requiring hikers to be prepared for long days of strenuous hiking. However, the trail also offers breathtaking views, diverse wildlife, and a sense of solitude in the remote wilderness, making it a rewarding and unforgettable experience for those willing to take on its challenges.

Features And Attractions

1. Queen Wilhelmina State Park: Located in Mena, Arkansas, this state park offers stunning views of the Ouachita Mountains and is a popular starting point for hikers on the Ouachita Trail.

2. Talimena Scenic Drive: This 54-mile drive stretches from Mena, Arkansas, to Talihina, Oklahoma, offering breathtaking views of the Ouachita Mountains and surrounding forests.

3. Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area: Situated in southeastern Oklahoma, this area is known for its rugged beauty, with scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife viewing.

4. Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Located near Little Rock, Arkansas, this park features the iconic Pinnacle Mountain, offering panoramic views of the Ouachita Mountains and the Arkansas River Valley.

5. Lake Ouachita: As the largest lake in Arkansas, Lake Ouachita offers stunning natural beauty, with crystal-clear waters surrounded by lush forests. It is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and camping.

6. Hot Springs National Park: Known for its thermal springs, this national park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. Visitors can explore the historic bathhouses and hike the trails that wind through the Ouachita Mountains.

7. Ouachita National Forest: Spanning over 1.8 million acres across Arkansas and Oklahoma, the Ouachita National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers numerous hiking trails, scenic drives, and camping opportunities.

8. Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area: Located in southwestern Arkansas, this park is known for its rugged beauty and the challenging whitewater rapids of the Cossatot River. Hiking trails provide access to stunning views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains.

9. Ouachita River: Flowing through Arkansas and Louisiana, the Ouachita River offers scenic beauty and recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, and kayaking. It is surrounded by picturesque landscapes and charming small towns.

10. Ouachita Mountains: The Ouachita Trail itself traverses the stunning Ouachita Mountains, offering hikers breathtaking views, diverse flora and fauna, and a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Ouachita Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is allowed along the trail, but campfires are only permitted in designated fire rings or stoves.
3. Leave No Trace principles should be followed, including packing out all trash and minimizing impact on the environment.
4. Hunting is allowed in certain sections of the trail during designated seasons. Hikers should wear bright colors for safety.
5. The Ouachita Trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be inaccessible or more challenging during winter months due to snow or ice.
6. Permits are not required for hiking or camping on the trail.
7. Hikers should be aware of and respect private property boundaries along the trail.
8. Motorized vehicles, including bicycles and motorcycles, are not allowed on the trail.
9. Hikers should be prepared with appropriate gear, including sturdy footwear, navigation tools, and sufficient water and food.
10. It is recommended to check for trail updates or closures before embarking on a hike, as maintenance or weather conditions may affect accessibility.

Seasonal Information

The Ouachita Trail, located in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, offers a stunning outdoor experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, the spring and fall seasons are generally considered the most favorable for hiking the Ouachita Trail.

In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery. The temperatures are mild, ranging from the 50s to 70s Fahrenheit (10-25 degrees Celsius), making it comfortable for long hikes. Springtime also brings occasional rainfall, so be prepared with appropriate gear. The fall season, on the other hand, offers breathtaking foliage as the leaves change colors. The temperatures are cooler, ranging from the 40s to 60s Fahrenheit (5-20 degrees Celsius), creating a pleasant atmosphere for hiking.

It’s important to note that the Ouachita Trail does have seasonal closures in certain areas. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be inaccessible due to snow and ice. It’s advisable to check with local authorities or trail organizations for up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions. Additionally, some campgrounds and facilities along the trail may have limited services or be closed during the off-peak seasons, so it’s essential to plan accordingly and make necessary arrangements in advance.

Overall, the Ouachita Trail offers a diverse and captivating experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring or the crisp air of fall, there is a season that will suit your preferences. Just be sure to check for any seasonal closures and plan accordingly to make the most of your visit to this beautiful trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Ouachita Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its rugged terrain and natural obstacles.
2. Trailhead Parking: Some trailheads offer designated accessible parking spaces close to the trail entrance.
3. Accessible Restrooms: A few trailheads along the Ouachita Trail provide accessible restrooms for visitors.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface consists of natural terrain, including dirt, rocks, and tree roots, which may pose challenges for wheelchair users.
5. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout the Ouachita Trail, but it may not meet the minimum width requirements for wheelchair accessibility.
6. Trail Obstacles: The trail may have fallen trees, steep inclines, or water crossings that can hinder wheelchair access.
7. Trail Grades: The trail includes steep sections with significant elevation changes, making it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
8. Trail Maintenance: While efforts are made to maintain the trail, it may not always be cleared of debris or obstacles that could impede wheelchair access.
9. Accessibility Assistance: Visitors with disabilities may require assistance from companions or support devices to navigate certain sections of the trail.
10. Alternative Access Points: Some sections of the Ouachita Trail may have alternative access points that are more accessible for individuals with mobility challenges.

Safety Information

1. Plan and prepare: Research the trail, weather conditions, and pack essential gear before embarking on the Ouachita Trail.
2. Inform others: Share your hiking plans with someone reliable, including your expected route and return time.
3. Water sources: Carry enough water or water purification methods as reliable water sources may be limited along the trail.
4. Wildlife awareness: Be cautious of encounters with bears, snakes, and other wildlife; learn how to react appropriately.
5. Tick prevention: Wear long sleeves, pants, and use insect repellent to minimize the risk of tick bites.
6. Trail conditions: Stay updated on trail conditions, closures, and potential hazards through reliable sources.
7. Navigation tools: Carry a map, compass, or GPS device to ensure you stay on the correct trail.
8. Emergency communication: Bring a fully charged cell phone or satellite communication device for emergencies.
9. Lightning safety: Avoid open areas during thunderstorms and seek shelter in low-lying areas away from tall trees.
10. Leave no trace: Practice responsible hiking by packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impact, and respecting the environment.
11. First aid kit: Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and know how to use it in case of injuries or emergencies.
12. Hiking with a buddy: Consider hiking with a partner for added safety and support.
13. Weather monitoring: Stay informed about weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes in temperature or conditions.
14. Physical fitness: Ensure you are physically prepared for the trail’s challenges by gradually increasing your fitness level.
15. Trail etiquette: Respect other hikers, yield to faster hikers, and follow any specific trail rules or regulations.
16. Emergency shelters: Familiarize yourself with potential emergency shelters along the trail in case of unexpected situations.
17. Campsite selection: Choose established campsites and avoid camping near dead trees or in areas prone to flash floods.
18. Hygiene practices: Practice proper hygiene to prevent the spread of diseases, such as washing hands and properly disposing of waste.
19. Sun protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
20. Trust your instincts: If a situation feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and make necessary adjustments to ensure your safety.

Conservation Notes

The Ouachita Trail, spanning approximately 223 miles through the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, holds a conservation status that reflects the importance of preserving its unique natural resources. The trail traverses diverse ecosystems, including mixed hardwood forests, pine-dominated woodlands, and rugged mountainous terrain, providing habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species. As a result, the conservation status of the Ouachita Trail is of significant concern to environmental organizations and government agencies.

Efforts to conserve the Ouachita Trail are primarily focused on protecting its biodiversity and maintaining the integrity of its ecosystems. The trail passes through several protected areas, such as the Ouachita National Forest and the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area, which play a crucial role in safeguarding the natural resources along the trail. These protected areas are managed to minimize human impact, prevent habitat degradation, and ensure the survival of vulnerable species.

Conservation initiatives for the Ouachita Trail also involve monitoring and managing invasive species that can disrupt the native flora and fauna. Invasive plants, such as Chinese privet and Japanese honeysuckle, pose a threat to the natural balance of the ecosystems along the trail. Conservationists work to control and eradicate these invasive species to protect the native vegetation and maintain the ecological health of the area.

Furthermore, the conservation status of the Ouachita Trail is closely tied to the responsible use and management of the trail itself. Organizations and agencies collaborate to establish guidelines and regulations for hikers, campers, and other visitors to minimize their impact on the environment. This includes promoting Leave No Trace principles, educating visitors about the importance of conservation, and maintaining the trail infrastructure to prevent erosion and habitat disturbance.

Overall, the conservation status of the Ouachita Trail reflects the ongoing efforts to protect its natural resources, maintain biodiversity, and ensure the long-term sustainability of this unique trail system. By implementing conservation measures, managing invasive species, and promoting responsible use, conservationists strive to preserve the ecological integrity of the Ouachita Trail for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

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