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Ozark Highlands Trail

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    • Ozark Highlands Trail

      Monday I started the Ozarks Highlands Trail. It is currently 164 miles going (West to East) from Lake Fort Smith State Park to Woolum, AR. Sometimes you will see it shown as 218 miles, but that I believe is including all of the loop trails. The goal is for it to eventually to connect with Ozark Trail in MO for a combined over 700 miles, taking you all the way to St. Louis. But there does not seem to have been a lot of progress on that lately. As its name describes it runs through the Ozark Mountains of AR, north of I-40.

      I started at the Lake Fort Smith State Park a little later than I planned. It had been raining quite a bit, but was only more misting/drizzling through out the day. Unfortunately the leaves and rocks were very wet and slippery. My poles usually saved me, but unfortunately not always. I was looking forward to the waterfalls, but despite the recent rain they were dry. I guess I should have taken pictures, but thought I would see flowing ones later. Didn't really get a great picture of Lake Ft. Smith either. Went over a lot of rivers and creek beds that were drive. Some from where they engineers have rerouted water, other from the previous dry season. At least I did not have to ford any streams with in the 30s and 40s. Saw multiple fire place/chimneys, showing there were once houses. Like the AT they use white blazes (Ouachita Trail uses blue).

      Only went a little 8 miles with the late start. Camped at Jack Creek since there was water and a campsite (rocks and flat surface for a tent).

      Earlier in the day I had stopped at a campsite where someone had set up lots of rocks to sit on (even like chairs). There was also chair built of limbs and twine, which I sat on as I filtered my water.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Astro ().

    • the 165 is the original " main " trail that has been extended

      From woolum it continues with buffalo river trail to mile 208
      208-222 has no trail tread, just bushwhack route
      Sylamore section is 222-253

      Forest service said no again a couple yrs ago to linking up with Ozark trail. But the effort continues. I dont undertand why forest service is so opposed. Havent been paying much attention.
    • Here are some more pictures from Day 1. You can see the cairn in the river bed. I believe this is one the former rivers where they rerouted the water and thus the change the mileage of the original contiguous part of the trail from 165 to 164. Last picture is of the chair at the "campsite" where I filtered my water. I call them campsites, but they are really just rocks formed by humans and often flat spots for tents.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Day 2 woke up at Jack Creek with frost all over my tents. Even though I did not get up until 8am, there was still frost all over my tent. Made for very cold tent pegs. Did a little more than 9 miles to White Rock Mountain. Plan was to spend the night at the Recreation Area there, where the guide book said (at one time at least) hikers could sleep inside the basement of the lodge. But to get I had to take a side trail thru the bluffs and it was getting dark fast. The Tim Ernst guide book also said it was illegal and unsafe to walk on the bluffs after dark (several people had fallen and seriously injured and dead). So I turned back and camped at the campsite where the side trail split off from the OHT. I just have to go up on White Rock Mountain on another trip sometime.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • More pictures from Day 2. Notice how they turn the metal blazes at an angle to show turns. Back in the Lake Ft. Smith park they some little round blazes with arrows inside them that they would turn at angles (sorry, should have gotten a picture). Was planning to get some good mountain view pictures on top of White Rock Mountain, but as the sun started to go down I went ahead and tried to get some through the trees.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Day 3 got up knowing it was going to rain some more and went 7 more miles Ragtown road. Went down around 1200 feet from White Rock Mountain to climb back 1000 feet to Potato Knob Mountain, then down around 1000 feet to Spirits Creek, to finally go up least 500 feet to Ragtown Road. I then took Ragtown Road a little less than a mile to 5 more miles on White Rock Mountain Road to meet my daughter near Cass, AR to drive me back to my car at Lake Fort Smith.

      Saw some interesting things on the forest roads walking back. One was that balloon which must have had helium, got away from someone, and just landed there in middle of nowhere in the woods. The last picture reminded me of Rock-em Sock-em Robots I had when I was a kid.

      Only saw one hiker the entire time, the first day a teenager carrying out a kitchen bag of trash he had picked up. Saw several hunters, was glad to wearing my Christmas present Orange Marmot Precip jacket along with my Astro hat. They said they see from a ways off, which made me feel good. Only saw one deer, and that was on the forest road walking out.

      All in all despite rain and cold weather and shortened from 4 to 3 days, a good trip. Back and forearm still hurt some from falling, but should be
      fine in time. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can do another section over MLK/Robert E Lee day weekend.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • One of my favorite thing about starting the OHT is the maps I bought. One for the West and one for the East. They are similar to ones I bought from the ATC for GA and NC when I started the AT. I really enjoy looking at the maps when I take a break while hiking, or when planning another trip.

      Hoping to get out there again on MLK/Robert E. Lee weekend, if the the sleet and rain forecast will change. Really need to get as many trail miles up and down mountains with rocks as I can to get ready for NH and ME this summer.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Day 1
      Started out much later than I planned (note to self: if you want to leave early always pack the night before ;) ). Drove the little over 2.5 hours to Cherry Bend Trail Head and started walking towards Ragtown Road where I last got off. Had received lots of rain the past week so rocks were slippery (espeicially the green ones) and sometimes the trial was muddy or covered with watter. Just coming out of a flash flood warning the day before, but the flip side of that is that the waterfalls should be flowing well. My original plan was to hike to Ragtown Road and back to the best campsite I could find. When I got to Fane Creek the water was flowing pretty good and I had concerns about the slippery rock I would have to cross. I had already destroyed a smartphone back in Vermont in 2016 after falling in the water, so I decided to walk a little over mile up to a bridge and cross there instead. Before getting back to the trail I had to go up hill quite a bit and then back down again.

      With that diversion and the late start I knew I was not going to make it all the way to Ragtown Road, so I started looking for a place to camp. Unfortunately trail was under water and no flat places. I knew I needed to find something before dark, so eventually I got above the trail and found the best place I could put my tent. Nothing was flat, so just tried to find the least amount of rocks and a way at least I could put my head uphill. Personal experience for me is if you must be on an incline that is better than your entire body rolling down hill. Set up tent and made dinner and there were these large black ants all over. Fortunately they did not bite, just annoying. With both my bridge and lunch diversions I had walked over 11 miles but credit actually for more like 8.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • I did something I ususally do not do, I walked at least a quarter mile off trail for lunch. I am glad I did, as I had the best mountain view I had. Unfortunately the trail is similar to the AT in lot of places where you can see the other mountains through the trees, but can not get a decent picture.

      I really enjoyed sitting in my new chair enjoying the view for lunch.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Some small waterfalls and creeks were Day 1.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • A few things I found interesting. Instead of painting white blazes, they nail metal plates on the trees, but only halfway to allow the tree to grow.

      Also interesting cut tree. And a burnt tree i assume from lightning.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Day 2
      Eventually the next morning I found what would have been a better place to set up tent. Lots of small waterfalls, and then some larger ones.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • More waterfalls.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Some of these last waterfalls are actually two or three falls merging together. Unfortunately being spring/summer hard to get a big view picture due to all the tree/plant growth.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • I hate out and backs so I decided to take Ragtown Road to White Rock Mountain Road to Turner Bend Store and got a shuttle back to my car. In the two days I walked over 22 miles to get credit for 10.6 OHT miles (35.4 total).
      Saw a few interesting things on the way back including some nice views.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • I apologize for all of the sideways pictures. They show up fine on my phone and PC. Tried loading from each, and still ended with many sideways.

      So I have finished 35.4 miles of the Ozark Highland Trail and half of the West map (East and North maps also to go). Still have a lot more miles to go (253 total). I drove back on roads near the trail ahead and none of them are appropriate for a road walk (no shoulder and lots of blind curves). The Ouachita Trail roads usually had much better shoulder to allow a road walk back to your car (or multiple times picking up a ride from someone). I see now for the OHT I need to just have someone drop me off and pick me up a week later or so. Defintely a different approach from some of my weekend trips on the OT. Also summer is not the best time, posion ivy was all over and despite my attempts to avoid it, still ended up with some of it. So I will not be going back till fall or winter probably. Will just have to walk on some closer trails over the next four weeks (although right now the tropical storm outside my window has me feeling like Noah :) ).
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • IMScotty wrote:

      At first glance I thought you had a two-headed snake (it was his shadow).

      Also, what is with those square boulders?
      I don't know, maybe God has a sense of humor there. I do wish I held out a little longer to spend the night there (narrow but flat spot between).
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      Also summer is not the best time, posion ivy was all over and despite my attempts to avoid it, still ended up with some of it. So I will not be going back till fall or winter probably. Will just have to walk on some closer trails over the next four weeks (although right now the tropical storm outside my window has me feeling like Noah :) ).







      It basically becomes impassable in summer.
      The overgrowth is thick. You constantly lose the trail. But more concerning, its hot, the ticks are innumerable. Dozens if not hundreds a day will be on you.


      more than one person has tried to hike it in the summer against warnings and failed miserably.


      I've done it spring and fall and each time is different but the spring is awesome because the waterfalls are all running the fall is dry. Early dec is crisp. Sometimes very dry. Each time I had long stretches of several days without seeing anybody and that's probably my favorite part. No people, and wild creek crossings that actually require you to figure out where you can cross sometimes if the water is up a little. Had to take high water bypass on hurricane Creek one time because there was no freaking way. Certain death. At least there was a high water bypass.

      The post was edited 4 times, last by Muddywaters ().

    • Irony is due to my work schedule I will probably complete my section hike of the AT and perhaps even a thru hike of the Colorado Trail before I complete the OHT in the state I live in.

      Completed Ouachita Trail, but part of that is in OK.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Original plan for this past weekend was to go to the Buffalo River Trail. But some of the group from another town meeting us came down with Covid (fortunately a few days in advance), so it ended up being just me and my youngest son's father-in-law. So since they do that hike every year, we knocked nearly 20 miles of my OHT instead.

      We drove to Lick Branch trail head and left my partner's car there. We then drove on to Cherry Bend. Both trail head parking lots were full. He got the last space at Lick Branch, and I had to get creative parking myself.

      When we started we were talking and started down a steep trail. I soon noticed that I hadn't seen blazes, and of course it wasn't the OHT, but instead a trail down to a waterfall. So we went back up and once on the OHT had really nice day to hike. The first day there was not many things to take pictures of, but more on the second.

      After 10.9 miles we spent the night at Herrod's Creek. Rained some during the night. Sunday we hiked 8.9 miles to Lick Branch, giving me 55.1 miles now on the OHT.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Day 2 Waterfalls (all the ones on Saturday were dry).
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Even though I try to walk 3 to 6 miles a day, it is nothing like going up and down mountains over roots and rocks (although compared to the NH/ME this trail is pretty smooth). Really busy at work now, but need to get out and do one of these weekend hikes every 2 or 3 weeks.

      Been studying OHT maps and while the curvy mountain roads prevent roadwalks are too dangerous for walking, I believe could use the Forrest Service dirt roads to cut down the time of always doing an out and back. :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      Even though I try to walk 3 to 6 miles a day, it is nothing like going up and down mountains over roots and rocks (although compared to the NH/ME this trail is pretty smooth). Really busy at work now, but need to get out and do one of these weekend hikes every 2 or 3 weeks.

      Been studying OHT maps and while the curvy mountain roads prevent roadwalks are too dangerous for walking, I believe could use the Forrest Service dirt roads to cut down the time of always doing an out and back. :)
      payin for shuttles works too.....
      As does cornering people at a campground and convincing them to give you a ride back to car.

      Guy on east end in Jasper shuttles.....Tim Ernst , who wrote all the Arkansas hiking guides, lead effort to build the OHT , is his son in law.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Muddywaters ().

    • Astro...

      Yikes, it is dry there.
      Love the Walking Stick Bug.
      That mini chasm looks interesting, bet that was carved by water once long ago.

      I don't know what kind of miles you are covering, but I have had good luck placing a bike at the end of a section hike, and biking back to the car. Actually after a while I decided I prefer to get the biking done first, and then I hike to the car.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Bike could work well in spots......

      But shuttlers do too...not a lot....but theres a handful. They'll follow you to one trailhead drop your car then take you to another.. no sense doing out-back if can do double the distance for $75

      They've got this thing up there that really isn't popular anywhere else, where they like to meet you at their place, (if it's a store or canoe outfitter), drive to trailhead in your car. Then they drive your car back to their place and keep it there and deliver it to another trailhead on the day of your choosing. I've never been crazy about that and done that. they want to use your car to take you to the trailhead initially and your gas and so the price is less for doing that then if they use their vehicle in their gas. Lots of people seem to go for this because it's safe and cheaper...... I just don't want strangers driving my car you know maybe 50-100 miles.....

      If you insist they'll do it the normal way but act like you're the oddball....

      I never really thought about it but come to think about it it absolves them of all responsibility, if someone's not a commercial driver or carry commercial insurance. they never transport you all they do is drive your vehicle with your permission, putting you on the hook for anything that happens. Anything

      My sons coming home from college in 2 weeks....all classes have been online this semester anyway.... Won't go back to New York till mid January. I'll probably get him out on the trail up there for a couple of nights in mid to late November. Or maybe on the Ouachita trail.

      Some of my favorite hiking was on the oht. Water crossings, 3-5 days without seeing anyone else in late fall, no cell service. Another world away from the AT.

      Daughter is now a physician's assistant officially. She will finish her last clinical rotation and graduate in December before Christmas and I have to go up there and move her home too. She only about 1-1.5 hr from there.

      The post was edited 8 times, last by Muddywaters ().

    • IMScotty wrote:

      Astro...

      Yikes, it is dry there.
      Love the Walking Stick Bug.
      That mini chasm looks interesting, bet that was carved by water once long ago.

      I don't know what kind of miles you are covering, but I have had good luck placing a bike at the end of a section hike, and biking back to the car. Actually guess after a while I decided I prefer to get the biking done first, and then I hike to the car.
      Don't remember ever riding a bike with a 20 pound backpack, but I guess I could give it a try.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Stash pack.....come back for it with car would be what id think. Ive never self shuttled with bike, but you can do reasonable distances.... If you're not too tired from hiking .... 10mph or so.... Get you as much as 40 mi in just 4 hours. And up to 20 mph is possible. Without hills...

      Motorized bike.....would be great.

      $300 can get you a motorized bike kit, goes 30 mph, and gets 100mpg. It would pay for itself in saved shuttle costs. Could stash it in the woods or leave it at hostels stores etc..... That would be extremely convenient.

      Not road legal but you know on remote roads who cares and if a cop sees your legs moving he's not going to question the smog legality of your "bicycle" 2 stk motor kits can be had for under $150 as well

      Now you got me thinking about this.....Interesting possibility for the Ouachita trail I intend to hike next.

      The post was edited 6 times, last by Muddywaters ().

    • Friday night I headed out to Arbaugh Trail Head. It was getting dark so I grabbed my pack and headed East, or at least that is where the map showed the parking lot. After one mile I checked Guthook on my phone since I did not see a campsite. And of course I had gone one mile West. So I went ahead and found a spot I could set my tent up.

      Bad news is instead of cutting Saturday's trip down to 14 miles, I had now increased it to 16 miles. Good news is that is 1 less mile for the next trip (or 2 if out and back).

      Realizing this I took off Saturday morning in the dark at 5:45 and made it the 16 miles to Lick Branch in about 11 hours before dark. Ran into one other westbound hiker (John) setting up camp around 10 miles in.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Lots of small waterfalls throughout the day. Also some bolders as big as buses.
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      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General