Spanning an impressive 137 miles, the Ouachita Trail, tucked away in the scenic woods of Mt. Ida, Arkansas, offers riders a genuine cross-country adventure. Since 2001, mountain bikers have had the privilege to tread on this extensive network, immersing themselves in altitudes that range from 600 to a soaring 2,600 feet. As riders weave through the forested mountains, they're met with captivating panoramas of valleys and pristine streams. With spur trails branching out to various recreational points, bikers are assured a unique experience at every twist and turn.
For those new to the Ouachita Trail, a recommended starting point would be the area between Hwy 71 and Hwy 27. This 58-mile stretch, designated for study in 1998, has seen considerable maintenance and is generally more forgiving, making it perfect for newcomers. However, for the more intrepid cyclists, the sections opened in 2001 beckon with unimproved trail conditions, promising a raw and authentic biking experience.
While the entire trail hasn't been explored by every cyclist, the consensus is clear - the Ouachita Trail promises an exhilarating ride. With its raw, untouched beauty, riders speak of mile-long climbs and the thrill of fast descents. Tight single tracks, unmatched views, and varying degrees of technicality ensure that boredom is never an option. From grueling rock gardens to fluid, flowing sections, this trail challenges and rewards in equal measure.However, a word of caution: the trail's remoteness means that encounters with other cyclists are rare. It's a true backcountry experience, complete with leaf-covered tracks and the occasional wildlife sighting. It's not a trail for the faint-hearted but is indeed a gem for those seeking a challenging ride.
Access the Ouachita Trail from several points including the Talihina State Park in Oklahoma, the Horse Thief Springs trailhead on the Talimena Scenic Drive, and the Big Brushy Recreation Area. The trail's vast network ensures that every visit can be a fresh experience.
The Ouachita Trail is more than just a biking route; it's an adventure that tests the limits while simultaneously offering moments of serene beauty. Prepare for climbs, breathtaking views, and a ride that will be etched in memory for years to come. But remember, it's not for beginners. Always ensure safety first and embrace the wild beauty of the Ouachita Trail.