The Ouachita National Recreation Trail spans 223 miles over two states, traversing the east-west trending Ouachita Mountains—and this weekend-sized chunk offers a great sample of the path’s sedimentary ridges and hardwood pine forest.
Begin with a ridgetop walk along Rich Mountain, passing the primitive stone headstones of Pioneer Cemetery, then cross the state line at mile 5.2. Descend to the Kiamichi River and get ready to boulder-hop—the trail crosses the river eight times in 2.3 miles. Take your pick from several campsites nestled among the oak, hickory, and maple growing along the river, or press on to Wilton Mountain for a prime (but dry) tent site. At mile 15.3, the trail drops 1,100 feet to reach the multi-channeled Pashtubbe Creek. Hike another 3.8 miles up another ridge and over a creek or two to the endpoint at mile 21, or extend your trip with one more night at one of the section’s plentiful campsites.
Info: Shuttles available; details at ouachitamaps.com/shuttles.html. Ouachita National Forest; (501) 321-5202.
Hike provided by Charlie Williams, BACKPACKER correspondent