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.
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 Map
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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 Trail Loop (Ouachita Forest)
Location Brushy Creek Campground, Ouachita National Forest, Montgomery County, Arkansas Hike Length/Type 6.5 mile loop trail Difficulty Strenuous (4 of 5) Directions The 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 Usage Mountain bikes. ATT Cell Coverage? About 50%. Official Info - Phone/Links (501) 321-5202 Website. Trail Map (pdf). Weather/Conditions Low 70's, overcast then clear, very nice. Date Hiked October 23, 2011