In mid-July I got the opportunity to hike the Buckeye Trail in the Ouachita National Forest’s Caney Creek Wilderness Area. It is a cool trail, but it was a bit of a challenge for me when I hiked it.
As you can see on the official trail map here, the Buckeye Trail itself is about 5 miles long. You can make a loop by coming back on (or starting out on) the east part of the Caney Creek Trail. The total loop hike, including a 1-mile walk along a gravel road connecting the Buckeye trailhead and the east Caney Creek trailhead, is around 10 miles. (The trailheads are a few miles north of the Shady Lake Recreation Area.)
The elevation change is about 1,000 feet.
There are some beautiful views on the Buckeye Trail. Most of the trail stays along a ridge on Buckeye Mountain. Along the trail, there are some stunning views of the Caney Creek Wilderness and other areas of the Ouachita Forest.
Another treat on this hike is Katy Falls. This 12-foot waterfall is on a short spur trail near the west end of the Buckeye Trail.
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped for a visit at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, near Mena and had an early evening walk on the Lovers Leap Trail. The most beautiful spot on the trail is the Lovers Leap overlook.
These are some of the photos I took from the Overlook and the trail that evening. (More below the jump. Click photo for larger view.)
Tall Peak Trail is one of the cool trails near Shady Lake in the Ouachita National Forest, southeast of Mena, Arkansas. The trail is just 3.1 miles each way (for a total hike of 6.2 miles), but it is a challenging climb. The elevation difference between the high and low points is nearly 1,200 feet.
The trail begins at Shady Lake Campground and heads to the top of the aptly named Tall Peak Mountain. Most of it lies in the Caney Creek Wilderness Area.
This was my second attempt to do the Tall Peak Trail. When I first attempted it in January, I aborted the hike about half-way through because I had gotten such a late start. (I also had underestimated the elevation challenge of the trail.)
During the off-season, the Shady Lake campground gate will probably be closed, but I am told that it is still okay to walk to the trailhead and walk the trail during that time (as I did).
As I mentioned here, I had aborted my first attempt at the Tall Peak Trail after hiking less than halfway. I decided to try it another day after I realized how challenging the hike is (the elevation increase is over 1,000 feet) and that I should have gotten an earlier start.
The Tall Peak Trail, running from Shady Lake to the top of Tall Peak Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest, near Mena, Arkansas, is a little more than 3 miles, each way.
My February 24 visit went better. I made it to the top of Tall Peak Mountain and then made it all the way back. Yes, it was after dark when I finished, but I did finish it.
These are some photos I took of my hike that day. (Click photo for larger view. More after the jump.)