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.
The net elevation change on the hike is about 1100 feet. (On the entire hike, the cumulative elevation gain is about 1970 feet.)
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.)
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped for a visit at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, near Mena and had an early evening walk on the Lovers Leap Trail. The most beautiful spot on the trail is the Lovers Leap overlook.
These are some of the photos I took from the Overlook and the trail that evening. (More below the jump. Click photo for larger view.)
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.)
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).