The Ouachita National Forest, located in the western part of Arkansas and the southeastern part of Oklahoma, is a majestic natural wonderland that spans over 1.8 million acres. Known for its diverse landscape, including rolling hills, dense hardwood forests, and pristine lakes, the forest offers an abundance of scenic horse trails that attract equestrians from far and wide. Here, we explore the top horse trails in Ouachita National Forest that provide unforgettable experiences for both riders and their noble steeds.
1. Winding Stair Mountain Horse Trail: As the name suggests, this trail takes you on a breathtaking journey up and around Winding Stair Mountain. Situated in the Talimena Scenic Byway, the trail offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and deep valleys. With varying terrains and elevation changes, it caters to riders of all skill levels. The trail is well-marked and offers plenty of rest areas and watering holes for horses, making it a favorite among equestrians.
2. Eagle Rock Loop: Considered one of the most challenging horse trails in the Ouachita National Forest, the Eagle Rock Loop offers a thrilling adventure for experienced riders. This 26.8-mile trail loops through beautiful mountain ranges, crystal-clear creeks, and magnificent towering pine trees. It requires careful navigation through rocky terrain and stream crossings, adding an element of excitement and challenge for riders and their horses.
3. Fourche Mountain Trail: For those seeking a shorter trail, Fourche Mountain Trail is an 11-mile loop that meanders through sections of dense forest and up to the summit of Fourche Mountain, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. This moderately difficult trail provides horse-friendly footing and opportunities for wildlife observation, ensuring an enriching experience for riders.
4. Irons Fork Horse Trail: Located in the eastern part of the Ouachita National Forest, the Irons Fork Horse Trail is a popular choice among equestrians due to its mostly flat terrain and well-defined paths. This 21-mile trail takes riders through peaceful valleys, shaded woodlands, and along the scenic waters of Irons Fork Creek. It offers multiple access points, allowing riders to tailor their journey to their preferences.
5. Little Missouri Falls Trail: Nestled in the southwestern part of the Ouachita National Forest, the Little Missouri Falls Trail provides a delightful blend of scenic beauty and a refreshing waterfall. This 9-mile trail leads riders through dense forests, creek crossings, and eventually to the picturesque Little Missouri Falls. The relaxing sound of cascading water and the stunning backdrop of the falls make it a perfect spot for a picnic before heading back.
Before venturing out onto these horse trails, it is crucial to be prepared and well-equipped. Ensure you have enough water for both yourself and your horse, as well as proper riding gear and maps of the area. Additionally, be mindful of the rules and regulations set by the forest service, such as trail use limitations and camping guidelines.
Embark on an unforgettable equestrian adventure in the Ouachita National Forest, where the stunning landscapes and well-maintained trails offer the perfect backdrop for horse enthusiasts to connect with nature and create lifelong memories.