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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (North Loop) Trail Map
Billy Creek Trail - North Loop (Ouachita Forest)
Location Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area, Ouachita National Forest, LeFlore County, Oklahoma Hike Length/Type 6.9 miles/loop (I went counterclockwise.) Difficulty Very strenuous (5 of 5) Directions I 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 Usage Bikes, horses (except on Ouachita Trail) ATT Cell Coverage? Yes. Official Info - Phone/Links (501) 321-5202 Website. Trail Map. Weather/Conditions 50's, pleasant. Date Hiked January 30, 2011