Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 7 mi

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
View from vista near Ouachita Trail MM 93 on Big Brushy Loop Trail.

In late October, I hiked the Brushy Creek Loop Trail in the Ouachita National Forest. It was a great hike.

This is a 6.5-mile loop which begins at the Big Brushy Campground, about 30 miles east of Mena, Arkansas. The trail begins at the back of the campground and makes a counterclockwise loop. The last 3 miles of the loop are on Section 4 of the Ouachita Trail.

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Big Brushy Creek, Ouachita National Forest

This was a great fall day for a hike. The temperatures in the upper 60’s and low 70’s were pleasant, it had just rained the previous evening, and it was overcast most of the day. There was also some cool fall foliage.

As I mentioned, the trail starts in the back of the campground, past the restroom. Just follow the white blazes. (I don’t recall there being any signage though.)

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Approximate elevation profile based on gps data.
Brushy Creek Loop Trail Map

Click here for full-screen trail map.

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
This part of the Big Brushy Loop Trail runs along Big Brushy Creek.

The first 2 miles of the trail go along a pretty level area following Big Brushy Creek. The creek and its branches were very scenic. Unfortunately, you can definitely hear the traffic from nearby Highway 270.

Generally, the trail was well-marked and appeared to be well used. The only area I thought was tricky is the point where the trail hits Forest Road 813A, about 2.6 miles into the trail. Here, you will need to turn left and walk up the (uphill) forest road for about a half mile. (This is the first significant uphill climbing on the hike.)

If you look carefully, you will see that the white blazes indicate to go this way, but it is easy to get confused at this juncture.

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Big Brushy Loop Trail
Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Stream along Big Brushy Loop Trail.
Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
This is where the trail turns left onto Forest Road 813A for about a half-mile.

Even though I think streams and creeks are great, for my money, the best part of the trail starts at the uphill area after exiting the forest road. I love hills, and this is the hill part of the hike.

The elevation range is about 500 feet for this trail. The vast majority of that climb is during the next 1.5 miles as the trail goes up Big Brushy Mountain.

I love the physical exertion involved in climbing hills, the changing views, and the varied topography of hill trails as they go up, down, and along hillsides.

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Climbing up Big Brushy Mountain.
Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Big Brushy Loop Trail
Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Big Brushy Loop Trail after joining the Ouachita Trail.

At around 3.5 miles, the white blazes come to an end as the trail intersects with the Ouachita Trail. (Look for the blue blazes.) From here, you should turn left to complete the loop and head toward the campground area.

For the next 1.5 miles or so, the trail has some up-and-downhill climbing. Then there is the coolest part of the hike. At around OT Mile Marker 93 is a vista area with an awesome view of the Ouachita Mountains and the Ouachita River Valley. (See the photo at the top of this post.)

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Fall foliage on Big Brushy Loop Trail.
Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Getting closer to Mile Marker 93.

From here, the trail heads mostly downhill. The last half mile or so is just a walk along Forest Road 6 back to the campground.

Brushy Creek Loop Trail (Ouachita Forest) - 7 mi photo
Heading downhill (with little daylight left) toward end of trail.

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.

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

Click here to download Mike’s gpx file.

Brushy Creek Trail Loop (Ouachita Forest)

LocationBrushy Creek Campground, Ouachita National Forest, Montgomery County, Arkansas
Hike Length/Type6.5 mile loop trail
DifficultyStrenuous (4 of 5)
DirectionsThe trailhead is at the back end of the Big Brushy Campground. White blazes at first. Starting here, the trail makes a counterclockwise loop eventually connecting to the Ouachita Trail. At about 3.5 miles, turn left at the Ouachita Trail (blue blazes) to head back toward the campground.
Other Permitted UsageMountain bikes.
ATT Cell Coverage?About 50%.
Official Info - Phone/Links(501) 321-5202 Website. Trail Map (pdf).
Weather/ConditionsLow 70's, overcast then clear, very nice.
Date HikedOctober 23, 2011

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