Nestled within the stunning confines of Mt. Ida, Arkansas, the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (often abbreviated as LOViT) presents a 14-mile trail network filled with natural beauty and demanding terrains. This trail, marked with its iconic "DIAMOND" rating, beckons the brave-hearted cyclists to conquer its ascends, water crossings, and vistas.
- Terrain Markings: Setting off from Joplin requires a keen eye, as the trail markings on Forest Road can be obscured by undergrowth.
- Cycling Challenges: The LOViT offers a spectrum of terrains, from gentle paths to steep climbs. About five creek crossings pave the way, leading up to the rigorous one-mile steep ascent with two tight switchbacks, making it a true test of stamina and technique.
- Trail Highlights:
- Around the 12-mile marker, after crossing Irons Creek, the trail's difficulty spikes.
- The Hickory Nut trailhead promises an unmatched visual treat. A mile-long detour on CR 50 reveals breathtaking panoramas of Lake Ouachita.
- Venturing further, a three-mile descent leads to CR 47A.
Trail Access and Parking
- From Hot Springs: Head west on Hwy 270 for approximately 20 miles. At Joplin's Valaro Gas station, make a right turn onto Mountain Harbor Road. After a block, another right turn followed by half a mile will lead to limited parking on the left, precisely where the trail intersects the road atop a hill.
- From Mt Ida: Taking Hwy 270 east for 12 miles followed by a left turn on Mountain Harbor Road at Joplin will direct to the same trailhead.
Detailed trail maps can be sourced from the Womble Ranger Station, located merely a mile east of Mt Ida.
New Sections and Recommendations
With the completion of Section 3 (Crystal Springs), the trail network has expanded. Post the descent to the CR47/47A junction, an eastward venture on CR47 for about 0.1 mile directs to the extended LOViT on the south. This leads to Pipe Spring, offering two trail continuations: northwards to Crystal Springs or southwards to Charlton campground via the Charlton Trail.
The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail is a paradise for cyclists seeking challenges and unmatched natural beauty. The climb up Hickory Nut, deemed worthy of its "DIAMOND" rating, makes the trail an essential endeavor for every ardent cyclist. With the trail's expansion and increasing features, this Arkansas gem remains a must-ride for all.