Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4)

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
South-facing view from the Potato Hill Vista on the Talimena Scenic Drive (Highway 1)

This is where the Ouachita Trail starts. This vigorous 2.4-mile Section 1 segment goes from the western trailhead at Talimena State Park (LeFlore County, Oklahoma) to the spur for the Potato Hill Vista. It is mostly on Winding Stair Mountain.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Hillside a little ways up from the Military Road Trail junction.

The 223-mile Ouachita Trail is the longest long-distance trail in this region. It runs from Talimena State Park all the way to Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Pulaski County, Arkansas. The majority of it is in the Ouachita National Forest.

When I hiked this segment on September 12, I went from the state park to the vista spur and back, about a 5-mile hike.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
The beginning and western end of the Ouachita Trail, Talimena State Park.
Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Ouachita Trail – hilly area prior to the Military Road Trail junction.
Getting There

The Ouachita Trail starts at the back of Talimena State Park, on Highway 271. It’s about 5 miles east of Talihina and about 30 miles southwest of Poteau.

CLICK – Google Maps Directions to Talimena State Park

 

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Ouachita Trail around .9, prior to the Military Road Trail junction.
The Hike

There’s quite a bit of climbing on this segment. The starting elevation is about 1,000 feet. By the time you reach the Potato Hill Vista spur, the elevation is about 1,874 feet, a net difference of nearly 900 feet.

The first .4 miles is pretty easy but not boring. After heading east for the first tenth mile, the trail turns north and follows along a seasonal stream bed. It was dry in September, but this is a very scenic stream during wet season.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Junction of the Military Road Trail. The Ouachita Trail continue on to the right.

At around .4, the trail crosses the stream bed and then starts working its way uphill. From here, the trail starts a northeasterly curve.

This next mile is a big climb. There’s an elevation increase of about 700 feet over the next mile as you work your way up Winding Stair Mountain.

If you’re not up for hill climbing, this part can be tough. I love it though. I like the challenge and variety that you get from hill climbing like this.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
A short road trace section, uphill from the Military Road Trail junction.

At around 1.0, the trail makes a sharp right at the junction with the Military Road Trail. (There’s a sign.)

Then the steepish climb continues up until around 1.3. At one or two points, the trail crosses the Choctaw Nation Trail (formerly the Indian Nation Trail).

At around 1.3, the trail levels out quite a bit until around 1.8. Then the trail climbs again until reaching the Potato Hill Vista spur at around 2.4.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
This is in the fairly level area around 1.5.

In the area leading up to the vista spur, there are a couple of scenic boulder fields that are pretty cool.

Once you hit the vista spur (there’s a sign), you’re at the end of this segment.

You might want to walk the .1-mile spur to your left to head over to the Potato Hill Vista (one of many on the Talimena Scenic Drive). The views from this vista are nice. (I disagree with Tim Ernst who says it’s not worth the effort.)

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Another shot in the more level area around 1.5.

As for scenic views from the trail, since much of this segment is at a fairly low elevation, there aren’t many vista views until you get up to the higher elevation areas. Then you can see some limited views through the trees off to the west (or south).

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
In the uphill climbing area past the Military Road Trail junction.
Final Notes

By and large, the trail was in very good condition and easy to follow. The Ouachita Trail has blue blazes.

I had AT&T cell signal for about 70% of the time.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
In the higher elevation area near 2.0.

For hiking the Ouachita Trail, I recommend Tim Ernst’s Ouachita Trail Guide.

These photos were all taken on my September 12, 2015 visit.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
In the final climbing area, not far from the boulder fields.
Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Boulder field not far from the Potato Hill Vista
Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
This is the spur from the OT over to the Potato Hill Vista.
Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Panoramic shot from the Potato Hill Vista. Just take the .1-mile spur to get to the Vista.

[See more pics from this hike in this post.]

Photo Gallery

Click here or below for full-screen photo gallery.

Maps
Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Contour Map – Ouachita Trail Talimena State Park to Potato Hill Vista Spur – Click to Enlarge
CLICK – Interactive Trail Map

 

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista (0.0 to 2.4) photo
Approximate elevation profile based on gps data.

Ouachita Trail 01: Talimena S.P. to Potato Hill Vista - M.M. 0.0 to 2.4

LocationLeFlore County, Oklahoma
Hike Length/Type2.5 miles each way. (5 miles out and back.) Blue blazes.
DifficultyVery Strenuous (5 of 5)
Other Permitted UsageMountain bikes
Gpx file by MikeLink
Date HikedSeptember 12, 2015 and earlier
Google Maps Directions LinkCLICK - Google Maps Directions to Talimena State Park
Official Info(918) 653-2991 (Oklahoma Ranger Dist., Hodgen) USFS Website FoOT Website

[Last revised: 6-2-2017]

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