The latest issue of National Geographic (one of only two publications I subscribe to, the other being Missouri Conservationist) featured Arkansas’s Ozark Highlands Trail. It’s a 100 or so mile long trail that traverses northwestern Arkansas. It’s very remote, relatively undeveloped in terms of facilities, and now one of my favorite trails to hike around here.
Matt and I drove down last saturday to check it out and were very much pleased with what we found. Although we only hiked about 4.5 miles (9 round trip), it was a really great trail. Deep, scenic valleys full of large boulders and rocky cliffs. Wet areas with ferns and pools of water which are probably even more fantastic after a heavy rain. Not to mention highland areas covered in tall, sweet smelling pines.
The trailhead we decided to start from was called Lick Branch and getting to it from the north is relatively tricky because you have to navigate about 20 miles of back forest roads. It took almost as long to travel the last 20 miles as it had the previous 100. Luckily we found a better way to leave.
Maybe one of these days I will be able to make it back and hike a longer stretch of the trail, maybe even hike it all the way through. So, the moral of the story is that if you are looking for a great longer hike than what you can typically find in the state parks – the Ozark Highlands Trail is for you. FYI, Missouri also has a trail similar to this called the Ozark Trail, and I think it’s about twice as long. I hiked a short section of it several years ago with my homey Ian.
Here is a cool old cabin along the back roads leading up to the lick branch trailhead. This was only one of many old abandoned cabins along the road. Most of today’s modern rednecks have replaced the old log cabins with hideous RV’s from the ’70s that appear to be more or less permanent fixtures in the forest now.
Matt checking out an overhand in the Marinoni Scenic area of the Ozark Highlands Trail. I would like to see this area after a period of rainfall when all the streams are gushing. I’m sure it would be quite a sight.
Me posing with a pine tree. There were several areas dominated by large pines. It was kind of interesting because there were lots of small, almost shrubby hardwoods in the lower part of the forest, and the canopy was covered with the tall pines. I liked this area a lot because of the strong pine smell, which is probably my favorite scent in the world.
Some sweet gum leaves in a pool of water.
Another dry creek bed. Although as cool as it was, I am sure it would be even more spectacular when water flowing through.