Hole in the Ground Mountain Trail is one of those trails that seemed much more difficult when I first hiked it a few years ago than it does to me now. Some weight loss and lots of day hikes have probably helped.
Even though it doesn’t seem all that difficult to me now, I’m still giving it a “5” (out of 5) difficulty rating. I figure when a trail has a 600+ foot elevation increase, that’s enough to put it in the “most strenuous” category.
Hole in the Ground Mountain Trail Map
The trail starts at Jack Creek Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest, about 10 miles south of Booneville, Arkansas. This is a beautiful area to go for a picnic, a swim, or just to hang out.
Sometimes the main gate at the park is closed during the off-season. If it is, you can still park outside the gate and walk to the trailhead. Or you can enter the park through the secondary entrance a little further up the road.
The trailhead is toward the lower end of the park. The trail starts by first crossing Sugar Creek. It then proceeds straight (east) heading up Hole in the Ground Mountain. The uphill climbing starts pretty quickly.
The trail is well-marked with rectangular white blazes.
After about 1,000 feet, you should notice a giant horseshoe-shaped bend to your right. It is beautiful, but you should be very careful if you walk off the trail over to this area as it has dangerous bluffs.
There are some very nice views of the surrounding mountains and countryside once you get near and at the summit area.
After the summit area, the rest of the hike is a long walk along a forested ridge.
There are some real advantages to wearing long pants rather than shorts on this trail due to some of the thorn vines you are likely to encounter.
The trail ends at the area where FR 51 and FR 141 intersect. Unless you have a second vehicle waiting for you, this is the point where you turn around and head back. It is about 7.4 miles to the end and back.
It is not unusual in the springtime for the water in Sugar Creek by Jack Creek Recreation Area to be too high to make a dry crossing. If that happens, you can park at the east end on FR 51 and then hike back towards Sugar Creek. That is not the preferred way to do the trail because then you will have the most difficult part of the hike (the climb up from Sugar Creek) right in the middle of your journey.
As usual, I have posted some of my photos and a gpx map made from my gps data.
Hole in the Ground Mountain Trail (Ouachita Forest)
Location Jack Creek Recreation Area, Poteau/Cold Springs Dist., Ouachita National Forest, Logan County, Arkansas
Hike Length/Type 7.4 miles/out and back (3.7 mi each way)
Difficulty Very Strenuous (5 of 5)
Other Permitted Usage None
ATT Cell Coverage? Mostly
Official Info - Phone/Links (501) 321-5202; Website. Official Trail Map (pdf).
Date Hiked 11-06-2010