The Ouachita National Forest extends from west of Little Rock all the way into southeastern Oklahoma near the sleepy town of Talihina. It’s a rare east/west mountain chain that features long rolling ridgelines, miles of dirt access roads, and numerous hiking and recreation opportunities.
Early spring is a great time to be backpacking...especially in Arkansas...and the desire to slip out of town for a few days was, to say the least, burning. Cue up the Eagle Rock Loop. This popular weekend loop runs 26 miles over ridgelines, underneath pine groves, and through numerous river crossings. Most folks do this one in three days, as was the plan for this trip.
Time to fuel the Tacoma and crank it east.
I’ve had the fortune lately to date a fiery young lady who, much akin to myself, prefers to be sans roof as often as possible. Though she has hiked and camped forever like I have, this trip was Erin’s first foray into backpacking.
She nailed it.
We took the scenic Talimena Drive on the way out. If you’ve not driven this highway, you’re missing out on 54 miles of hills, curves, and expansive views. The drive runs from Talihina, OK to Mena, AR. Fall is the popular season...but I’ve driven it at various times of the year and never have been disappointed. Go check it out!
Mid-drive picnic stop. It was chilly and breezy so we backed the truck up towards the overlook and enjoyed a cold beverage and some lunch.
Taking refuge from the wind. All the gear is tucked up tight...ready to deploy!
Time to launch!
Within the first half hour or so we found ourselves navigating several wet crossings. Nothing too difficult this first day...but the continual on and off of shoes and socks slowed our pace some. Not to worry though, we enjoyed every minute and embraced the adventure.
Arkansas features some of the prettiest backdrops in this part of the country. How can you argue with that green water?!?
Hiker by a hiker sign.
Sometimes nature lends a hand.
Seriously...this photo is in Arkansas. The water was so pretty!
So pretty that I needed two pics in the blog just to emphasize the point.
Camp One - we had a nice fire and some well-deserved dinner.
Blackberry Lemonade makes me happy! (So did the booze we added....maybe it was just the booze)
Sunny overlooks on day two.
Another wet crossing...another shoe exchange.
Meadow cruise. This loop really offers a wide variety of terrain.
More sunny views of the ridgeline.
Rounding a bend...ticking off the miles.
Evening sunlight over more gorgeous water.
Camp two. My job was to take photos while Erin made dinner. Maybe I was supposed to help make dinner. (She was nice and shared).
Brekkie on day three - hot banana and blueberry granola, coffee for Erin (gross), hot chocolate for Byron (tasty), Rum Chata in both (appropriate).
Mas agua muy bonita.
Little Missouri Falls - very pretty and flowing well from the recent rains! I have a LOT of pics here.
One final wet crossing for the trip. If you’ve seen my Facebook page, you may remember there’s a hidden item in this pic.
Success! We had a nice stroll on day three...a few wet crossings but nothing to raise an eyebrow at. It was a great loop and comes highly recommended! Erin rolled along like a pro and we really had a great time enjoying nature.
Next of course - celebration beers!
After a quick swim to chisel off the first layer of funk, we changed into real clothes for a riverside hang. However...before any of that...we stashed some room-temp beer in the cold Arkansas water. Nature took care of the rest. A quick reconnaissance mission yielded cold beer in hand.
Cheers to hiking and to lowgiene!
We sat on the bridge soaking the sun, watching the water, snacking some cheese, sipping some brews, and wrestling with the idea of having to drive back to the world of responsibilities. Being able to escape from the daily makes the little things even sweeter.
Sunset on the return drive, Muse, OK. Find that one on the map!
The Eagle Rock Loop was a great hike for anyone looking to get away for a weekend! If you'd like any tips or further info, feel free to contact me via Facebook, Instagram, or email!
Now go outside before the heat rolls in!