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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

Rip & Go: Eagle Rock Loop - Ouachita National Forest, AR

Climb riverside bluffs in the South's oldest national forest.

by: Joanna Nasar, Illustration by Supercorn

See this at mile 22.4 (Charlie Williams)
See this at mile 22.4 (Charlie Williams)
River otters (Ken Archer)
River otters (Ken Archer)

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Download a printable PDF of this entire weekend.

GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.

Key Skill | Remove a Tick
The little buggers are everywhere in these hills.
Prevent Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs (or wear gaiters), apply DEET to skin, and wear light-colored clothes so you can spot them easily. It helps to avoid marshy areas, high grass, and woody shrubs–but that's not always practical in the Ouachitas. Do one tick-check a day, minimum. Remove If you find one embedded, don't freak out. Use angled tweezers to grab the tick close to your skin, and perpendicular to its body. Pull up with a slow, steady motion. Be patient, and don't worry if mouthparts are left behind–they can't transmit disease. If you crush the tick, wash skin with soapy water or an alcohol swab.

Locals Know
Arkansas is famous for more than being the birthplace of the 42nd president. It's also known–by rock geeks–as the home of some of the world's finest quartz (Brazil is the other hotspot). In fact, there are 40 active mines in the Ouachita Mountains, a range that has produced as much as 87,000 pounds of natural quartz crystal, a higher quality crystal (prized by collectors and jewelers) than the industrial grade used in electronics. "We have tons and tons of high-quality quartz," says John Nichols, Ouachita National Forest's forest geologist, "Look for crystals at creek crossings. They often wash down from the numerous veins of white and clear quartz in this area, and taking home some surface quartz is just fine."

See This
River Otters
Both the Little Missouri River and the Viles Branch Creek are home to northern river otters, which enjoy easy access to clear waterways and tasty crayfish. These cute two- to four-foot-long mammals live in bark-and-leaf dens along the riverbanks and hunt at night, but they're also active during the day. Locate a den–you'll spot otter hair amid bits of bark–then scan the waterway for motion (and a thick tail). Or listen for the splashes and whistles of otters playing or sliding down muddy banks. Stay still if you see one. They'll trot away at 30 mph on land, or hide out underwater for up to eight minutes.

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Reader Rating: -


Jake Drayton
Feb 24, 2011

Ive been there numerous times its not so bad unless u go down the old mine roads there pretty trechrous

Dec 06, 2010

The roads are gravel but I drove my '98 Camry to the Missouri Falls trailhead without difficulty.


Dec 06, 2010

The roads are gravel but I drove my '98 Camry to the Missouri Falls trailhead without difficulty.


May 23, 2010

Going with my 11 year old. Any tips?

May 06, 2010

I would say this is a paved route just looking at the google map view of it. I know that it is paved all the way at least until FR106. And that is right off of the AR 369 part. Also, and you might have already figured this out, there is no I-70. You take I-30 South out of Little Rock and then there is an exit for 70/270 that take you through Hot Springs to Glenwood. I am looking forward to trying this out. Will be my first multi day backpack trip.

D. R.
May 01, 2010

Are the roads to the trail head paved? Or am i gonna need a 4x4 to get in there. A lot of forest service roads i've seen in Southern Ill are pretty rought. I just moved to the area


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