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Hot Springs / Ouachita Trail, AR

SOLD OUT! (Put me on the waiting list)

Oct 31 - Nov 8, 2015 -- $1125 ★★

For over 200 years, people have come to Hot Springs, AR to bathe in its legendary healing waters to relax and treat illnesses. Many people still drink the hot waters, believing them to be theraputic and delicious. (Note: the Hot Springs no longer run wild and we will soak in them in one of the local bathhouses. What to expect at the bathhouse)

We will hike almost 50 miles along the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, a beautiful and seldom hiked trail that goes between Little Rock, AR and Talimena, OK. The trail is inhabited by deer, wild turkeys, barred owls, hummingbirds, and if we're lucky, bald eagles and bears. But mostly, there are walking sticks, armadillos and interesting spiders such as tarantulas.

This itinerary is the same as the 2014 itinerary, which itself is a continuation of the 2011-2013 itineraries. Our journey will begin at Highway 298 on the border of the Ouachita National Forest. If you have joined us on one of our previous trips, Highway 298 is where the prior trips ended. The trail will visit 4 shelters (we'll stay in 3 of them) as well as Irons Fork, Chalybeate Spring, Round Mountain, Suck Mountain (yes, really ... it doesn't suck), and Blowout Mountain before we end the trip at Big Brushy, home of what must be the longest picnic table ever built. From there, we'll shuttle to the Hot Springs for a relaxing soak.

It's still fall in Arkansas and there are remnants of Fall Foliage, so why not join us, soak in the hot springs, see a part of the country few ever see, and get in shape in anticipation of the holiday season?


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures to be ideal -- in the 60s and nighttime temperatures in the 30s and 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of overnight temperatures as low as the 20s and the possibility of rain or even snow. It poured one day on the 2014 trip, but we were fortunate to arrive at our shelter just as the rain started and stay inside until the next morning when it cleared up.

View historic weather for this area.

Trip Leaders

Todd Soprych
Dan Shafto


$1125 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Little Rock, AR (LIT), personal equipment and any restaurant meals eaten off the trail.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation, fees, permits, hot springs mineral bath (private services such as massage are extra), insurance, and 2 awesome guides.


Much of the terrain on the Ouachita Trail is mellow and well graded, but there are sections where contours can be steep. The most dramatic ascents/descents are about 700' which can be a challenge but not a long-lasting one. The daily mileage is 5-6 miles the first few days, a few days of 8+ miles and one challenging 11+ mile day.

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fly or drive into Little Rock (LIT). The best arrival time is between 12PM - 3PM, but if you can save a significant amount of money by arriving a little before or after, you should do so.

Take free airport shuttle to Comfort Inn & Suites Airport (AR099), 4301 East Roosevelt Rd., Little Rock, AR, 72206, (501) 376-2466

Equipment shakedown. We go through your pack and examine everything you brought.

Go to Ozark Outdoor Supply 5514 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, AR to pick up any equipment participants forgot or still need. Open until 6PM

Trail mix distribution

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go out for opening dinner, review trip orientation. Dinner not included in trip cost.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Second set of "before" measurements taken

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.

Go out for breakfast or hotel breakfast

Shuttle to Route 298, elevation 800'

Begin hiking at Route 298, elevation 800'

Hike 4.8 miles to Big Branch Shelter Spur

Hike 0.5 downhill miles to Big Branch Shelter

Camp at Big Branch Shelter, elevation 800'

Miles today: 5.3. Total miles: 5.3

Possible bailout: Route 119 or Route 298

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hike 0.5 uphill miles back to the Ouachita Trail

Hike 5.2 miles to Irons Fork

Hike 1.3 miles to the Potter Shelter Spur Trail

Hike 0.5 miles dowhill almost 500' to Uncle Bill Potter Shelter

Camp at Uncle Bill Potter Shelter, elevation 850’

Miles today: 7.5. Total miles: 12.8

Possible bailout: Forest Road 78

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

There is no water along the trail today or at the shelter tonight, so fill up all 2 gallons of the containers and prepare to dry camp tonight. Though heavy, the mileage today is short.

Hike 0.5 steep uphill miles back to the Ouachita Trail

Hike 4.8 miles to the John Archer Shelter, elevation 1200'

Camp at John Archer Shelter, elevation 1200'

Miles today: 5.3. Total miles: 18.1

Possible bailout: Highway 27

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tonight we will wilderness camp at a dry site, so we'll have to carry water up from Chalybeate Spring

Hike 0.9 miles to Highway 27

Hike 5.0 miles to Story Creek (Chalybeate Spring), elevation 950'

Fill water here as there will be no water tonight.

Hike 2.6 miles to Chalybeate Mountain near the intersection of the Round Top Trail, elevation 1350'

Dispersed camp at Chalybeate Mountain practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 1350'

Miles today: 8.5. Total miles: 26.6

Possible bailout: Highway 27

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Today we will summit "Suck Mountain", which actually doesn't suck at all.

Hike 5.4 miles to the summit of Suck Mountain, elevation 1450'

Hike 3.2 long, straight downhill miles to Harris Creek

Cross Harris Creek on a concrete bridge and turn left into the woods before Rainy Creek.

Camp 100 yards in at a big flat near a large Cedar Tree next to Harris Creek, elevation 900'

Miles today: 8.6. Total miles: 35.2

Possible bailout: Forest Road 88

Friday, November 6, 2015

Get an early start today

Hike 4.5 miles to Fiddler's Creek

Get water here. This is the last water source for the rest of the trip.

Hike 0.2 steep uphill miles to the Fiddler Creek Shelter. Have lunch here.

Hike 4.0 uphill miles to Blowout Mountain, elevation 1500'

Hike 2.0 miles to Highway 270, elevation 850'

Hike 0.3 miles to Big Brushy Campground, elevation 850'

End of hiking

Camp at Big Brushy Campground which has big flat areas, picnic tables, and fire grates. The campground used to be a frontcountry car campground, but the car camping portion is now closed.

Miles today: 11.0. Total miles: 46.2

Possible bailout: Forest Road 274

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The shuttle comes to pick us up

Go for a mineral bath at Quapaw Historic Bathhouse, for a relaxing soak in the main bath area (included). Other services such as massage and private baths available at your own expense.

Shuttle to Comfort Inn & Suites Airport (AR099), 4301 East Roosevelt Rd., Little Rock, AR, 72206, (501) 376-2466

"After" measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Free breakfast in Hotel

Check out of Hotel

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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