If you are looking for just one backpacking trip in Arkansas then the Ozark Highlands Trail is just what the doctor ordered. This 165 mile trail stretches across some of the most terrific sights and views the state has to offer. Add to this the fact that it is one of the south’s best kept secrets and you are going to be looking at a stretch of beauty and solitude seldom matched.
The Ozark Highlands Trail also serves as a spine of sorts to a host of smaller trails throughout the northwestern part of the state including many in the famous Ozarks. Covering so much scenery it is bound to be a draw for smaller day hikers from Lake Fort Smith, the Ozark National Forest, the Buffalo National River, the Ozark Mountains and the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. Along with this wealth of beauty served up on this premier trail in the Natural State you will also find a lot of history from homesteaders to Civil War to American Indian and old west outlaws. Keep your eyes open for historical markers along the trail.
Be sure to plan your trip toward the White Rock Mountain lookout for the best sunset view in Arkansas and bring along your extra socks for more than 60 creeks, streams, rivers and a whole lot of waterfalls.
Fall and winter are the best times for hiking this trail. Spring will work but it is likely to be too hot in the summer months.
The official trail head is at Lake Forth Smith State Park near Mountainburg in the western part of the state but there are a number of spurs and loops that can also serve as entrance points.
The trail is well marked and maintained by the Ozark Highlands Trail Association and if you plan on taking this trail on I recommend getting the latest edition of the Ozark Highlands Trail Guide.
Thanks to Jeff from Mid South Hiking for this review of the the Ozark Highlands Trail