What is your perfect day? If you had a day all to yourself to do anything you wanted, what would it be?
I know exactly what my answer is. I would spend a day in the Ouachita Mountains.
Here’s how it would go:
I would wake up in my RV at Lake Catherine State Park. (We don’t have an RV but still…) My husband would be outside cooking breakfast. (Hey, this is a dream so I’m going all out.) He would have gotten up early to get the campfire going.
There would be a pot of coffee perking on the fire, the fresh biscuits would already be made, and he would there by the fire, stirring the homemade gravy.
After a good, country breakfast, we would pack up some sandwiches and head out for a hike. Obviously, we would pack the fixings for homegrown, Arkansas tomato and mayo sandwiches because they make the best lunch ever! Remember those sandwiches from the Best Arkansas Hiking Loops?
After a day of hiking, we would come back to camp for coffee and campfire songs.
“The Camptown racetrack’s five miles long Oh! doo-dah day!”
It would be a fantastic day!
The Ouachita Mountains are a beautiful place to spend a day or a week. Hiking is a great way to spend your time while you’re in the Ouachitas because it gives you the opportunity to enjoy nature up close.
The Ouachita Mountains are unique in that they run east to west, rather than the north to south direction of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. The sandstone and shale slopes harbor two types of forest: hardwood on the northern slopes and pine and oak on the drier south-facing slopes. Much of the range is contained within the Ouachita National Forest, a 1.8 million-acre outdoor playground.source
Best Hiking Trails in the Ouachita Mountains
Start here. These are some of the BEST hiking trails in Arkansas!
Hunt’s Loop Trail
Start at Iron Spring parking lot off of Hwy 7. From the parking lot, follow the Hunt’s Loop Trail (white blazes) west, immediately crossing the river. Take a left at the intersection to follow the trail clockwise. You’ll immediately climb a rather steep grade that leads 500 ft. to the top of Short Mountain for a great view of the area.source
For complete directions, visit Hiking Project.
Little Missouri River Trail
The trail winds its way through the woods from the campground to the scenic Little Missouri River. The trail then loops back through the forest to the trailhead. This trail provides a relaxing one hour hike over level terrain. Half of the trail has paved barrier-free access, and is the longest wheelchair accessible trail in Southwest Arkansas. The unpaved remaining section of the trail is easily walked.Arkansas State Parks
You’ll find the Little Missouri River Trail here:
209 State Park Rd
Murfreesboro, AR 71958
GPS: 34.0289, -93.667217
Don’t miss our EPIC Arkansas Bucket List!
Buckeye and Caney Creek Loop
Buckeye and Caney Creek Loop is a 10.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Mena, Arkansas that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.source
You’ll find the Buckeye and Caney Creek Loop Trail here:
899 Fas 2400
Mena, AR 71953
For more loop trails, check out our list of INCREDIBLE Arkansas Hiking Loops.
Lake Ouachita Vista Trail
If you want to fully take in all the beauty around Lake Ouachita, hike the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT).
You’ll be glad you did!
Lake Ouachita Vista Hiking Trail first 4.7-mile segment is open. Plans call for the trail to extend 35 to 40 miles along the Lake Ouachita shore and link up with the Charlton trail.source
You’ll find a trail map and directions here.