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A Guide To The Ouachita National Forest
Welcome to the Ouachita National Forest
The Ouachita National Forest is the South’s oldest national forest, compromising more than 1.6 million acres. Rich in history, the rugged Ouachita Mountains were first explored in 1541 by Hernando De Soto’s party of Spainards. French explorers followed, flavoring the region with names like Fourche la Fave River. “Ouachita” is the French spelling of the Indian word Washita which means "good hunting grounds".
Stretching from near the center of Arkansas to southeast Oklahoma, the Ouachita Mountains are generously endowed with a multitude of recreational opportunities. Sightseeing is a popular way to view changing landscapes throughout the year. travel the Talimena Scenic Byway or Highway 7 National Scenic Byway for great photo opportunities at each breathtaking vista.
Top-notch trails cut through these mountains for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. One of the most popular is the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses 192 miles across the rugged, scenic peaks of the Ouachita Mountains.
Watersport enthusiast’s can canoe the scenic Caddo River and float or fish the Little Missouri and Ouachita Rivers. Most major recreation areas are located near a freeflowing creek, stream, or river so campers can enjoy swimming, boating, or fishing. The Ouachitas also provide some of the best hunting for wild turkey, deer, and other game in-season.
Besides outdoor fun, the forest provides timber and other forest products for the nation. The forest’s ecosystem management policy guarantees both healthy land now and careful use of the forest for the future.
Recreational Opportunities in
You are invited to discover a world of unlimited adventure on more than 1.6 million acres.
The Ouachita National Forest
Hiking and Riding
More than 600 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding are available, ranging from short interpretive trails of less than 1 mile to longer routes on the 192-mile Ouachita National Trail. Trails vary in level of difficulty from primitive trails in wilderness areas to paved, interpretive trails, some for physically challenged visitors. Some trails are available for a variety of uses(equestrian, mountain bike, off-road vehicle), while others are single use, so please check with the local Forest Service office for information before your trip.
Camping and Picnicking
Thirty-three camp and picnic grounds are available during the late spring, summer and early fall. Selected areas remain open year-round to accommodate fall and winter visitors.
A fee is charged to use some national forest recreation areas. Fees vary based on the type of services provided at each area.
The Ouachita has two designated National Forest Scenic Byways: Arkansas Scenic Highway 7 and Talimena Scenic Byway crossing mountain tops from Arkansas into Oklahoma. Both byways offer visitors outstanding opportunities to enjoy pleasure driving and scenic viewing.
The variety of enjoyable experiences provided by the assortment of rivers on the Ouachita is remarkably wide, ranging from unmatched trout streams to rugged whitewater rivers, to peaceful passages ideal for first-time floaters. Some of the Forest’s most popular waterways are the Caddo and Ouachita Rivers and the two designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, Cossatot and Little Missouri.
Our waters abound with largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, green sunfish, longear sunfish, catfish, bluegill, and crappie.
Hunting is permitted anywhere on the Ouachita National Forest except within developed recreation areas or otherwise posted sites. All State hunting and fishing regulations, fees, and seasons apply on national forest land. Information about these regulations can be obtained by contacting:
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
No.2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
1801 N. Lincoln
Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
The forest’s complex geology offers a unique opportunities for both professionals and rockhounders. Quartz crystal, the Arkansas State mineral, is abundant in a belt several miles wide, extending from Jessieville, AR to Broken Bow, OK. Rockhounders are welcome to pick up quartz crystal off the ground for personal use but not for sale. If you would like to use tools to dig for quartz, contact the local district ranger for a permit or contract.
Points of Interest
National Recreation Areas
The Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area(NRA) and six other designated areas in Oklahoma combine to offer visitors a full range of recreational, educational, and scenic opportunities on the western side of the forest. The NRA has more than 150 campsites, a 90-acre lake, an equestrian camp, a 45-mile stretch of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, and many miles of equestrian, interpretive, and hiking trails. The 26,445-acre NRA lies on both sides of the Talimena Scenic Byway in Oklahoma.
These areas offer a natural landscape accessible by trails, cross-country travel, and some primitive roads from which to view the scenic beauty. The seven scenic areas include: Blowout Mountain, Dutch Creek Mountain, Crystal Mountain, Iron Fork, South Fourche, Beech Creek, and Indian Nation Wildlife and Scenic Area.
Opportunities for solitude or for primitive and unconfined types of recreation are extensive on the forest. With more than 65,000 acres designated as wilderness, visitors will find a variety of settings on which to explore and discover the solitude, scenic beauty, inspiration, primitive recreation, and natural ecosystems found in the forest’s six wilderness areas. To ensure a primitive experience and minimum human impact, motorized equipment is prohibited in these areas.
Visit Your National Forest Today!
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service is a diverse organization committed to equal opportunity in employment and program delivery. USDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political affiliation, and familial status. Persons believing they have been discriminated against should contact:
The Secretary of Agriculture,
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Directions to Recreation Areas
- Take Arkansas Hwy.84 west of Glenwood, AR; turn north on Arkansas Hwy.369 at Langley, AR for 6 miles.
- Take Arkansas Hwy.84 west of Glenwood, AR; turn northwest on Arkansas Hwy.246 at Athens, AR; turn right (north)on Forest Service Road 38 for 7 miles; turn right(east) on Forest Service Road 16 for 0.5 mile.
- Go northeast from Pencil Bluff, AR on U.S. 270 for 6 miles.
- Take Oklahoma Hwy.63 west from Big Cedar, OK for 6 miles; turn right(north) at sign on road 6022 for 2 miles.
- Take Oklahoma Hwy. 3 east from Idabel, OK past Haworth, OK for 3.5 miles;turn right (south) at sign on Forest Service Road 7006.
- Take U.S. 270-59 south from Heavener, OK for 10 miles; turn right(west) on Holson Valley Road for 3 miles; then turn right(north) on road 7269 for 1 mile.
- Go west from Hot Springs, AR on U.S. 270 for 20 miles.
- Take Arkansas Hwy. 27 north from Norman, AR for 1 mile; turn right(east) on Forest Service Road 177 for 6 miles.
- Take Arkansas Hwy. 27 north from Norman, AR for 1 mile; turn right(east) on Forest Service Road 177 for 3 miles.
- From Pencil Bluff, AR take Arkansas Hwy. 88 east for 7 miles; turn right(south) on county road 97 for 1 like.
-Take U.S. 270 northwest from Mount Ida, AR for 4.5 miles to Arkansas Hwy.298; turn right(north) for 0.5 mile to Forest Service Road 568; turn right(east) for 1.5 miles to Forest Service Road 1437.
- Go south from Rover, AR on Arkansas Hwy. 27 for 5 miles.
- Go west from Hot Springs, AR on U.S. 270 for 24 miles.
Hickory Nut Mountain(G-3)
- Take U.S. 270 west from Hot Springs, AR for 22 mile; turn right(north) at sign on Forest Service Road 50 for 2.5 miles.
- Go west from Oklahoma Hwy 1/U.S. 259 junction for 6 miles on the Talimena Scenic Byway.
-Go north from Jessieville, AR on Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway for 4.5 miles.
- Take Arkansas Hwy.23 south from Booneville, AR for 2 miles; turn left (east) on Arkansas Hwy 116 for 1 mile; then left (south) at sign on county road 19; turn left (east) on Forest Service Road 141 for 1 mile.
- Take Arkansas Hwy. 23 south from Booneville, AR for 2 miles; turn left (east) on Arkansas Hwy.116 for 1 mile; then south at sign on county road for 5.5 miles; then 2.5 miles south on road 19.
- Take Oklahoma Hwy. 3 east from Idabel, OK past Haworth, OK for 0.5 mile; turn right(west) on county road for 5 miles; turn left(south) on county road for 1 mile.
- Take Arkansas Hwy. 9 south from Perryville, AR for 9 miles; turn right (southwest) at sign on Arkansas Hwy. 324 for 4 miles.
Little Missouri Falls(E-4)
- 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 road 73 to Forest Service Road 43; turn left (northwest) 4 miles to Forest Service Road 25; turn left (west) for 0.5 mile to Forest Service Road 539.
- Go west from Waldron, AR on Arkansas Hwy.248 for 11 miles.
-Go east from “Y” City, AR o U.S. 270 for 5 miles.
Old Military Road(A-2)
- Go 0.5 mile east from Oklahoma Hwy. 1/U.S. 271 junction on the Talimena Scenic Byway.
- Go 1.5 miles south from Oklahoma Hwy. 1 on U.S. 259.
- Go northwest of Mena, AR for 9 miles on Arkansas Hwy.88.
- Take U.S. 270 northwest from Mount Ida, AR for 0.5 mile; turn right(north) on Arkansas Hwy. 27 for 0.5 mile; turn left (northwest) on county road 59 for 3.5 miles to Forest Service Road 138; turn left(north) for 2.5 miles.
-Take U.S. 270 northwest from Mount Ida, AR for 6 miles; turn right (north) just before crossing the Ouachita River Bridge (east side of river).
- Take Arkansas Hwy. 84 west of Glenwood, AR; turn northwest on Arkansas Hwy. 246 at Athens, AR; turn right (north) at sign for 3.5 miles on Forest Service Road 38.
- Go south from Hollis,AR for 1 mile on Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway.
- Go west from Oklahoma Hwy. 1/ U.S. 259 junction for 2 miles on the Talimena Scenic Byway.
Kerr Nature Center(B-2)
- Go east from Oklahoma Hwy.1/ U.S. 259 junction for 1.5 miles on the Talimena Scenic Byway.
Mena Information Station(B-2)
-Go 1 mile north from Mena, AR on Arkansas Hwy. 88; entrance to Talimena Scenic Byway.
Talihina Information Station(A-2)
- Go 7.5 miles northeast from Talihina, OK at U.S. 271/Oklahoma Hwy. 1 junction; entrance to the Talimena Scenic Byway.
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