Tuesday Fitness Fix: Lake Ouachita Vista Trail

Check here every Tuesday
for a fitness fix rundown. I’ll be on the lookout for running, cycling, tri’s,
adventure races, and other active outlets taking place around the state that I’ll
highlight each week.
This week: The LOVit Trail

Zoie Clift
I’ve been doing a lot of
trail riding these days. Yep, it’s hot on the trails,  but not as blazing as road riding can
be. The shade of the trees at least provides a bit of relief. One of my
favorite routes is the Vista Trail. If you’ve never been, below is quick primer
on the trail. The article is also in this month’s Arkansas Wild magazine!  Kim’s article on geocaching is also
there as well as Chuck Haralson’s great photos. Many thanks to the
folks at the magazine for featuring our crew.  Well, enjoy the Tuesday everyone and happy riding out there!


Lake Ouachita Vista Trail Adds More Miles

A new leg of the Lake
Ouachita Vista Trail, or as it is affectionately known by its acronym- the
LOViT- is now open.

The trail is being created
with a specific goal in mind: as a means for people to enjoy the beauty of Lake
without being in or on the water. “Visitors can now integrate hiking
and biking with planned activities on the lake thereby expanding their Lake
Ouachita experience,” said Jerry Shields, president of the Traildogs, a group
of volunteers who provide support in the design, planning, and construction of
the route.

Shields said around 23
miles are currently open. The new section ties to the old Charlton Trail. When
completed, the route will include around 40 miles of hiking and mountain biking
trails along the shores of the lake. LOViT, which is being built in stages, is
a joint effort of many groups in the area to link the resorts and campgrounds
around the lake together via a trail system. It meanders through the Ouachita
National Forest with spurs providing lake vistas and a more challenging hike up
to the top of Hickory Nut Mountain for a view of the lake. Five phases of the
trail are now complete.

“This is a huge addition to
the state and area,” said Bill Barnes, owner of Mountain Harbor Resort in Mount
“Hikers, bikers, and marathon runners use it…people from all over the
nation. The lake attracts people when seasonal warm weather hits and the trail
draws people in the fall, winter and spring. It’s the best of both worlds.”

So what makes this route
stand out from others? “Accessibility,” said Shields. “Our design of connecting
all the resorts and campgrounds on the south side of Lake Ouachita provides
easy access to every section of the trail and the accommodations along the
length of it.”

Shields said the route is
designed for all levels and attracts a wide range of users. Parts of the trail
are handicapped accessible and groups ranging from adventure racers to hiking
groups make use of the varied terrain. The route is also sanctioned by the
International Mountain Biking Association. “Biking groups from all over the
country who often visit our area to ride the Womble Trail have now added the
LOViT and are extending stays in the area to ride both,” he added.

No matter what mode is used
to explore the terrain, the main goal is to introduce all users to the beauty
of the area. “My personal favorite sections of the trail are three and four which
are located on the south side of Hickory Nut Mountain,” said Shields. “We
purposely took the trail across the top of this mountain to include the
stunning views of Lake Ouachita that are only found at the Hickory Nut Mountain

The construction of LOViT
is being developed via a collaborative effort between volunteers and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service.

“For the last five years we
have constructed four to five miles each winter,” said Shields. “I think it’s
important folks know the development of this trail system is the effort of a
coalition of federal, state and local organizations put together by a small
group of local volunteers who had a vision and have worked for five years to
bring this to fruition.”

According to Barnes, the
expanse of the collaboration the Traildogs were able to pull together stands
out. “Everybody stepped up to the plate,” said Barnes. “All for the spirit of
building this.”

Barnes said plans for the
next leg of the route are to go from Crystal Springs to Brady Mountain, which
encompasses the largest section of uninterrupted wilderness on the trail. He
said finishing this last section will take around 2-3 years. “This will be the
most difficult section,” he said. “Not physically building it but getting it
laid out and the environmental assessment on it.”

Barnes said though the last
leg will be a challenging section to complete, he is confident in the
development efforts to finish LOViT.

“Everything about this
trail, the volunteers that put it together, the opportunity for folks to enjoy
the forest…it’s been great. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

For more information, visit


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