Tagged: Caney Creek Wilderness

Trails in the Caney Creek Wilderness area. It is in the Ouachita National Forest, Polk County, Arkansas, not far from Mena.

Buckeye Trail/E. Caney Creek Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 9 mi

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"Buckeye Trail/E. Caney Creek Trail (Ouachita Forest)   9 mi" photo
West-facing evening view of Ouachita National Forest from one of the great vistas on the Buckeye Trail (7-13-2013)

This is a challenging 9.4-mile loop hike in the Caney Creek Wilderness of the Ouachita National Forest in Polk County, near Shady Lake. It is composed of the Buckeye Trail and the east part of the Caney Creek Trail.

It’s a tough hike, but it has some great scenic areas and wonderful vistas.

As you can see from the maps below, the hike roughly makes a rectangle with the south side being 3.8 miles of the Caney Creek Trail and the north and (shorter) west sides being the Buckeye Trail.

The east side is a 1.1-mile gravel road walk (Forest Road 64) between the Buckeye trailhead at the northeast corner and the east Caney Creek trailhead at the southeast corner.

"Buckeye Trail/E. Caney Creek Trail (Ouachita Forest)   9 mi" photo
Katy Falls and Katy Creek. It is accessible from a spur near the west end of the Buckeye Trail.

The net elevation change on the hike is about 1100 feet. (On the entire hike, the cumulative elevation gain is about 1970 feet.)

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Caney Creek Trail Cascade Video (Ouachita Forest)

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"Caney Creek Trail Cascade Video (Ouachita Forest)" photo
Cascade on the west part of the Caney Creek Trail, Ouachita National Forest

Back in April, I got to hike the west part of the Caney Creek Trail in the Ouachita National Forest’s Caney Creek Wilderness (Polk County, Arkansas). I hiked it from the west trailhead near the Cossatot River over to the trail’s juncture with the Buckeye Trail, a distance of 5.7 miles, and then back for a total hike of 11.4 miles.

This trail has lots of wet crossings, especially during wetter times like during my April hike. The trail crosses the Cossatot River and then crosses Caney Creek 10 times before reaching the Buckeye Trail juncture. So I had 22 wet crossings on my hike. (By the way, I need to get some decent water shoes.)

It was a very scenic hike. I thought the areas along Caney Creek and the Cossatot River crossing were wonderful. (I hope to get a full trail summary posted soon.)

Alternate video link.

My favorite spot was this cascade or mini-waterfall on Caney Creek. The trail doesn’t cross exactly at this spot, but it is in full view from the trail.

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Tall Peak Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 6 mi

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"Tall Peak Trail (Ouachita Forest)    6 mi" photo
One of the Tall Peak Trail crossings at the Saline River

Tall Peak Trail is one of the cool trails near Shady Lake in the Ouachita National Forest, southeast of Mena, Arkansas. The trail is just 3.1 miles each way (for a total hike of 6.2 miles), but it is a challenging climb. The elevation difference between the high and low points is nearly 1,200 feet.

The trail begins at Shady Lake Campground and heads to the top of the aptly named Tall Peak Mountain. Most of it lies in the Caney Creek Wilderness Area.

This was my second attempt to do the Tall Peak Trail. When I first attempted it in January, I aborted the hike about half-way through because I had gotten such a late start. (I also had underestimated the elevation challenge of the trail.)

"Tall Peak Trail (Ouachita Forest)    6 mi" photo
Panoramic shot of the view from one of the vistas on Tall Peak Mountain

During the off-season, the Shady Lake campground gate will probably be closed, but I am told that it is still okay to walk to the trailhead and walk the trail during that time (as I did).

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Tall Peak Trail Photos February 2013 (Ouachita Forest)

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"Tall Peak Trail Photos February 2013 (Ouachita Forest)" photo
View from near top of Tall Peak Mountain (panoramic)

As I mentioned here, I had aborted my first attempt at the Tall Peak Trail after hiking less than halfway. I decided to try it another day after I realized how challenging the hike is (the elevation increase is over 1,000 feet) and that I should have gotten an earlier start.

The Tall Peak Trail, running from Shady Lake to the top of Tall Peak Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest, near Mena, Arkansas, is a little more than 3 miles, each way.

My February 24 visit went better. I made it to the top of Tall Peak Mountain and then made it all the way back. Yes, it was after dark when I finished, but I did finish it.

"Tall Peak Trail Photos February 2013 (Ouachita Forest)" photo
Tall Peak Trail along the Saline River (panoramic)

These are some photos I took of my hike that day. (Click photo for larger view. More after the jump.)

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