Billy Creek Trail – North Loop (Ouachita Forest) – 7 mi

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
View from Billy Creek Trail (North Loop)

There are two Billy Creek Trail loops. (The Billy Creek Trail is on Winding Stair Mountain, LeFlore County, Oklahoma, in the Ouachita National Forest.) My post on the south loop is here.

The south loop is a 7.3-mile hike with 600 feet in elevation change. It starts with a spur near the Billy Creek Campground.

The north loop is a little shorter, but has more climbing. It is 6.9 miles long with 750 feet of elevation change.

My hike there on January 30 was pretty nice.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
North Loop of Billy Creek Trail

For the north loop hike, I parked at the Horsethief Springs picnic area on the north side of the Talimena Highway (Highway 1). The trail crosses the highway about 500 feet downhill (east) of the picnic area. That’s where I started. I crossed the highway to the south side to start the trail, taking the loop counterclockwise.

The trail mostly has yellow and white blazes. (The Ouachita Trail part has blue blazes.)

After a quarter-mile, the trail starts heading downhill in a big way. The next 1.5 miles is a downhill walk with an elevation drop of 750 feet.

The trail reaches the bottom of the hill in the Billy Creek valley. At the direction sign, take a left (heading east).

This 1.5-mile segment is a part of the north loop and the south loop. If you view the two loops as a figure-8, this part is the middle. (It also could be viewed as a connecting spur between the Billy Creek West and Billy Creek East trails.) It is mostly an uphill climb with an increase of 500 feet in elevation. I think this part has a lot of the most interesting terrain and some nice scenic views of the area mountains.

Before the uphill climbing though, there is a short walk in the Billy Creek area — also quite scenic.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Billy Creek
Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Billy Creek Trail (Connecting Spur)
Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
View From Billy Creek Trail (Connecting Spur)

You will come upon a directional sign indicating to turn left to head to the Ouachita Trail. Turn left here (heading north). It’s about 1.2 miles from here to the east highway crossing. This part goes up about 250 feet higher elevation-wise.

I really like the uphill climbing in these parts of the trail. There is a lot of variety in the terrain, and there are some very nice views.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
North Loop of Billy Creek Trail / Ouachita Trail

After crossing the highway, it is about 100 feet until the intersection with the Ouachita Trail. (The Ouachita Trail has blue blazes.) Turn left (heading northwest).

The Ouachita Trail stretch is about 2.2 miles and is pretty easy. There is a little up-and-downhill walking, but the elevation change isn’t more than about 100 feet.

And it’s not boring either. There are some nice views (particularly during leaf-off) in this part of Winding Stair Mountain, and there are lots of cool-looking rocks.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Official USFS Trail Map

Eventually, there is a sign indicating to turn left for the “Picnic Area.” That’s where you turn. It’s about 200 feet from there back up to the highway where we started.

By the way, here is a good hiking tip. Always carry a flashlight and extra batteries. When I hiked this, I did the last bit in near-darkness (and my flashlight batteries were dead).

As usual, I have posted some of my photos and a gpx map made from my gps data. You can click the photos for a larger view.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Approximate Elevations Based on GPS Data.

Billy Creek (North Loop) Trail Map

Click here for full-screen trail map.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Billy Creek Trail – Upper Loop (Ouachita Forest) – Contour Map (click to enlarge)

Click here for gpx file download.

Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest)

LocationWinding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area, Ouachita National Forest, LeFlore County, Oklahoma
Hike Length/Type6.9 miles/loop (I went counterclockwise.)
DifficultyVery strenuous (5 of 5)
DirectionsI started at the highway crossing about 700 feet downhill from Horsethief Springs picnic area. Turn right and cross Highway 1 and follow the trail. (Mostly yellow and white blazes.) After 2 miles or so, turn left (continue counterclockwise) at the sign where the Billy Creek east and west trails meet. Then its about a mile to the sign for a Ouachita Trail spur. Turn left. After about a mile, you will cross Highway 1 again. Turn left when you reach the Ouachita Trail. (Blue blazes here.) Follow Ouachita Trail 2.5 miles or so to the sign for the (Horsethief Springs) picnic spur. Turn left there. It's then about a half mile back up to starting point.
Other Permitted UsageBikes, horses (except on Ouachita Trail)
ATT Cell Coverage?Yes.
Official Info - Phone/Links(501) 321-5202 Website. Trail Map.
Weather/Conditions50's, pleasant.
Date HikedJanuary 30, 2011

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2 thoughts on “Billy Creek Trail – North Loop (Ouachita Forest) – 7 mi”

  1. Great report, Mike. I’m planning on taking my Scout backpacking here in the spring (we tried to last spring, but the floods in April washed us out). How was the water? It looked like good water in Billy Creek from the photo.

    Cheers, Bill

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