Ouachita Trail In Arkansas

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

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Arkansas
  • Length: 223 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Ouachita National Forest
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website: https://www.ouachitamaps.com/

The Ouachita Trail, located in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, has a rich historical background that dates back centuries. The trail follows the path of Native American tribes who inhabited the region long before European settlers arrived. These tribes, including the Caddo, Osage, and Choctaw, used the Ouachita Mountains as a vital resource for hunting, gathering, and trading.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ouachita Mountains became a significant route for European explorers and traders. French explorers, such as Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, ventured into the region in the early 1700s, establishing trade relationships with the Native American tribes. The French influence continued until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, when the area became part of the United States.

In the early 1800s, the U.S. government recognized the strategic importance of the Ouachita Mountains and constructed the Military Road, which connected Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Fort Towson, Oklahoma. This road played a crucial role during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, serving as a supply route for troops and a means of communication. The remnants of the Military Road can still be seen along the Ouachita Trail today.

In the late 20th century, the Ouachita Trail gained recognition as a recreational destination. The U.S. Forest Service, in collaboration with local hiking enthusiasts, developed the trail, which officially opened in 1988. Since then, it has become a popular destination for hikers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts, offering stunning views of the Ouachita Mountains, diverse wildlife, and a glimpse into the historical significance of the region. The Ouachita Trail stands as a testament to the rich history and natural beauty of the area, providing a unique experience for those who traverse its path.

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 Express – Offers transportation services for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts near the Ouachita Trail.
3. Ouachita Trail Taxi – Taxi service available for transportation needs around the Ouachita Trail.
4. Ouachita Trail Rides – Offers horseback riding and transportation services for hikers along the Ouachita Trail.
5. Ouachita Trail Bike Rentals – Provides bike rentals and transportation services for cyclists exploring the Ouachita Trail.
6. Ouachita Trail Bus – Bus service available for transportation needs along the Ouachita Trail.
7. Ouachita Trail Car Rentals – Offers car rental services for hikers and visitors exploring the Ouachita Trail.
8. Ouachita Trail ATV Tours – Provides ATV tours and transportation services for outdoor enthusiasts near the Ouachita Trail.
9. Ouachita Trail Helicopter Tours – Offers helicopter tours and transportation services for a unique perspective of the Ouachita Trail.
10. Ouachita Trail Water Taxi – Provides water taxi services for hikers crossing water bodies 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 guides or websites for more detailed information about amenities available at specific locations 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 and outdoor recreational opportunities.
3. Mena, Arkansas – Town with various lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, serving as a gateway to the Ouachita 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 and hiking opportunities.
6. Little Rock, Arkansas – State capital with numerous lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, providing urban amenities along the trail.
7. Lake Ouachita State Park – Campground and marina near the trail, offering water activities and scenic surroundings.
8. Mount Ida, Arkansas – Town with lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, known for its quartz crystal mines and outdoor recreation.
9. Shady Lake Recreation Area – Campground and picnic areas near the trail, providing a peaceful setting for outdoor enthusiasts.
10. Hot Springs Village, Arkansas – Gated community with lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services, offering golf courses and recreational amenities.

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. Mount Magazine State Park: Situated atop Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas, this state park offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains and the Arkansas River Valley. It is a popular spot for hiking, camping, and hang gliding.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Ouachita Trail. There are many more hidden gems to discover along this beautiful trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Ouachita Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is permitted along the trail, but campfires are only allowed 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. Motorized vehicles, including bicycles and motorcycles, are not allowed on the trail.
8. Respect private property boundaries and obtain permission if crossing or camping on private land adjacent to the trail.
9. Practice proper hygiene and dispose of human waste in a sanitary manner, at least 200 feet away from water sources.
10. Be aware of and respectful towards other trail users, including hikers, backpackers, and equestrians.

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. Spring and fall are generally considered the most popular seasons due to the mild temperatures and beautiful foliage. During these times, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers and colorful leaves, creating a picturesque setting for hikers. The weather is usually pleasant, making it ideal for long hikes and camping trips.

Summer can also be a great time to visit the Ouachita Trail, especially for those who enjoy warmer weather and longer daylight hours. However, it is important to note that summers in this region can be hot and humid, so it is essential to carry plenty of water and take necessary precautions to stay hydrated. Additionally, summer is the peak season for ticks and mosquitoes, so insect repellent is a must.

Winter on the Ouachita Trail can be a unique and rewarding experience for those who enjoy solitude and a more challenging hike. The trail is less crowded, allowing for a peaceful and serene journey through the snow-covered landscapes. However, it is important to be prepared for colder temperatures and potentially icy conditions. Proper winter gear, including warm clothing and sturdy footwear, is essential for a safe and enjoyable winter hike.

When planning a visit to the Ouachita Trail, it is important to be aware of any seasonal closures or restrictions. Some sections of the trail may be closed during hunting seasons, which typically occur in the fall and winter. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail organizations for up-to-date information on closures and any other regulations that may affect your visit.

Overall, the Ouachita Trail offers a diverse and breathtaking experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring and fall, the warmth of summer, or the tranquility of winter, there is a season for everyone to explore and enjoy 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 varies from natural terrain to rocky sections, making it challenging for wheelchair users.
5. Trail Width: The trail width is not consistent throughout, and some sections may be too narrow for wheelchair passage.
6. Trail Grade: The trail includes steep sections and uneven terrain, making it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
7. Trail Obstacles: The trail may have fallen trees, rocks, or other natural obstacles that can hinder wheelchair passage.
8. Trail Bridges: Some bridges along the trail may have limited accessibility due to their design or condition.
9. Trail Camping: While camping is allowed along the Ouachita Trail, accessible camping facilities are limited.
10. Trail Information: Visitors can find trail maps and information online or at visitor centers to plan their trip accordingly.

Safety Information

1. Flash floods: Be cautious of sudden heavy rainfall that can cause flash floods along the trail.
2. Wildlife encounters: Exercise caution and be aware of potential encounters with bears, snakes, and other wildlife.
3. Tick-borne diseases: Take precautions against ticks and tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.
4. Poison ivy: Watch out for poison ivy along the trail and avoid contact to prevent skin irritation.
5. Falling trees: Be mindful of falling trees, especially during storms or strong winds.
6. Trail erosion: Some sections of the trail may be prone to erosion, so use caution and watch your step.
7. Limited water sources: Plan accordingly as water sources may be limited in certain areas along the trail.
8. Extreme weather conditions: Be prepared for extreme weather conditions, including heat, cold, and storms.
9. Trail maintenance: Stay updated on any trail maintenance or closures that may affect your hike.
10. Remote areas: Some sections of the trail are remote, so ensure you have proper navigation tools and emergency supplies.

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 and ecosystems. The trail is primarily managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is designated as a National Recreation Trail, highlighting its significance for outdoor recreation and conservation efforts.

Conservation efforts along the Ouachita Trail focus on maintaining the integrity of the surrounding environment and protecting the diverse flora and fauna found within the region. The trail traverses through various habitats, including mixed hardwood forests, pine-dominated woodlands, and rugged mountainous terrain. These habitats support a wide range of plant and animal species, some of which are considered rare or threatened.

To ensure the conservation of the Ouachita Trail, land managers and conservation organizations work together to implement strategies that minimize human impact and promote sustainable use. This includes trail maintenance and restoration projects, erosion control measures, and the establishment of designated campsites and waste management systems. Additionally, educational programs and outreach initiatives aim to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and responsible outdoor recreation among trail users.

Overall, the conservation status of the Ouachita Trail reflects a commitment to preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of this unique landscape. Through ongoing efforts, the trail continues to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to experience the region’s natural wonders while ensuring the long-term sustainability of its ecosystems.

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