OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST
Located in west central Arkansas and southeast Oklahoma, the Ouachita National Forest offers visitors a myriad of opportunities for either 1-day trips or extended vacations filled with relaxation and enjoyment. There are 35 developed recreation areas, 7 scenic areas, 43 vistas, 5 float camps, 11 shooting ranges, 2 historical sites, 6 wildernesses, 1 national recreation area, and over 700 miles of trails.
Most of the developed recreation areas are open from April through September. However, selected areas remain open year-round to accommodate fall and winter visitors. Specific information for each site can be found by selecting from the list in the box to the right. A fee is charged to use many Federal recreation areas, including some on the national forests. Rates shown on site information pages are effective January 1, 2005.
The Ouachita National Forest is participating in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Program. Under this program 80% of the user fees collected are returned directly to the recreation site for facility maintenance and improvements. In the past, all but 15% of these receipts went to the general treasury fund. These fees vary based on the type and level of services provided at each area.
The Ouachita National Forest is the oldest and largest National Forest (NF) in the South. It comprises 1.76 million acres in Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. The Forest contains 4,000 miles of streams and 1,600 acres of lakes and ponds (not counting the adjacent Lake Ouachita and Broken Bow Reservoir, both Army Corps of Engineer facilities and only includes National Forest portions of lakes in multiple ownerships). The Forest's fisheries program is one of State and Federal coordination, fisheries protection and fish habitat improvement. The Forest has been co-sponsoring Kid's Fishing Derbies for over 10 years.
The lake acreages include, 400 acres of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Lake Hinkle, Watershed District flood control lakes on the Forest (approximately 11) and FS recreation/fishing lakes and ponds totalling approximately 700 acres. The remaining acreage is in one acre or smaller wildlife ponds and the ponds and reservoirs on the Red Slough waterfowl area in SW Oklahoma.
Fishing opportunities abound within the Forest and on adjacent Corps of Engineer's reservoirs. While we can't guarantee you'll catch fish, we can tell you they are out there. Good Luck!
All of the following are available picknicking areas inside the national forest:
COLLIER SPRINGS: Natural setting at clear-flowing spring. Picnicking (1 unit), vault toilet, picnic shelter.
Take Arkansas Hwy. 27 north from Norman, AR for 1 mile; turn right (east) on Forest Service Road 177 for 3 miles.
DUTCH CREEK: Site of Historic Dutch Creek Civilian Conservation Corps Camp. Picnicking, accessible vault toilet, picnic shelter.
On Arkansas Hwy. 80, 13 miles east of Waldron, AR.
HORSETHIEF SPRINGS: Historic spring and picnic area on Talimena Scenic Byway.Picnicking (6 units, 2 accessible), accessible vault toilet, interpretive trail.
Take Oklahoma Hwy. 1 from junction with U.S. 259, 6 miles (west) on the Talimena Scenic Byway.
KULLI: Seven-acre lake.
Picnicking (9 units, 1 accessible), swimming, fishing, 1 mile hiking trail, drinking water, accessible flush toilet.
Take Oklahoma Hwy. 3 east from Idabel, OK past Haworth, OK for 1/2 mile; turn right (west) on county road for 5 miles; turn left (south) on county road for 1 mile. LITTLE MISSOURI FALLS: Forested picnic area, with trail leading to waterfall overlook.
Picnicking (5 units), hiking, accessible vault toilet, drinking water, fishing, 6 mile hiking trail downstream to Albert Pike Recreation Area.
Take Arkansas Hwy. 84 west of Glenwood, AR; turn north on Arkansas Hwy. 369 at Langley, AR for 6 miles; continue north 3 miles on Forest Service Road 73 to Forest Service Road 43; turn left (northwest) 4 miles to Forest Service Road 25; turn left (west) for 1/2 mile to Forest Service Road 539.
CADDO RANGER DISTRICT
OLD MILITARY ROAD: Historic old road and picnic area on Talimena Scenic Byway.
Accessible picnicking (two units), accessible picnic shelter, accessible vault toilet, interpretive trail, national historic site.
Take Oklahoma Hwy. 1 from junction with U.S. 271, 1 mile (east) on the Talimena Scenic Byway.
PIPE SPRINGS: Old spring.
Picnicking (5 units), accessible vault toilet.
Take U.S. 259 from junction with Oklahoma Hwy. 1, 1-1/2 miles (south).
RICH MOUNTAIN: Breathtaking view from the highest point (2,681 feet) on the Ouachita National Forest. The lookout tower is open to the public, weather permitting, weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Veterans Day.
Picnicking (5 units), lookout tower site.
Take Arkansas Hwy. 88 - 10 miles west of Mena, AR on Talimena Scenic Byway.
Explore Our Beautiful TrailsOver 700 miles of trails await you on the Ouachita National Forest. The trails system includes trails and related facilities for hiking, mountain biking, all-terrain vehicles (ATV's), and equestrian. Hiking and interpretive trails range in lengths of less than 1 mile up to the 192-mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses the entire forest from west to east. These trails vary in level of difficulty. The most challenging include rough terrain, steep grades and numerous water crossings like the Eagle Rock Loop on the Caddo District. The easiest are paved interpretive trails such as the Friendship Trail, a fully accessible (facilities which are accessible to disabled visitors) trail at the Jessieville Visitor Information Center.
One of the most popular trails for mountain biking is the Womble Trail, a 31-mile single-track trail that many people feel is the best of its kind in this area of the nation. Wolf Pen Gap is a popular trail for ATV riders because it provides a range of difficulty levels from the easiest to the most difficult. Many miles of equestrian trails are available for the enjoyment of horseback riders as well, from the simple trail with no facilities to the highly developed campground for horse users at Cedar Lake. Some trails are available for a variety of use (horses, mountain bikes and ATV's), while others are single use. Check with the local Forest Service office for information before your trip.
From Hot Springs, US highways 270 west, 70 west and State highway 7 west provide easy access into the forest.