Ozark Highlands Trail
Varies with weather, physical ability, total hiking distance, specific section, etc
Western terminus: Lake Fort Smith State Park, 8 miles north of Mountainburg on US 71. Eastern terminus: Tyler Bend Campground on the Buffalo National River; U.S. 65 at Silver Hill
The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) has been rated as one of the most scenic trails in the United States. It travels east across the entire Ozark National Forest, turns north to cross the Gene Rush/Buffalo River Wildlife Management Area, and eventually ends up on the Buffalo National River in the Richland Valley across from Woolum Campground. At this point, the OHT joins a portion of the Buffalo River Trail which heads on downstream another 13 miles to the Tyler Bend Campground.
The OHT is one of the most spectacular trails in the southeastern United States. It passes through some of the most remote areas of the Ozark National Forest and is noted for its mountainous terrain, scenic views, lush upland hardwood forests, unique rock outcroppings and clear mountain streams. Different forest vegetation abounds, with the predominant overstory trees being oak/hickory.
The OHT is great for day hikes, weekend adventures, and extended backpacking. It is accessible at many forest road and highway crossings. The major National Forest Recreation Areas which provide access are Shores Lake, White Rock Mountain, Ozone, Haw Creek Falls, Fairview and Richland Creek. Parking for extended periods is available at these locations. Secured parking is available at White Rock Mountain. Although a permit is not required for hiking, please sign in at all trail registers you encounter. This is valuable in an emergency situation, but the data received from the registration boxes is extremely important to the continued support and management of the trail.
Once you are past the first—westernmost—six miles of the trail, camping is allowed anywhere outside of the recreation areas; although trail etiquette encourages camping at least 200 feet away from the trail and water sources, and preferably out of sight of the trail. If a previous campsite is available, please make camp there in order to lessen expanding impact.
The trail has had a variety of markings in the past; however, white rectangular paint blazes have been adopted as the official marker. All spur and side trails will be marked with blue rectangular paint blazes.
For those persons interested in experiencing the beauty and spirit of the Ozark Mountains much the same as our forefathers found them, this trail offers unmatched scenery. A camera is a must!