When you think of intense solitude from backpacking, you might think of Yosemite or Canyonlands, but deep in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas you will find 3 trails that link together to form the Eagle Rock Loop Trail. At 28.2 miles, it provides plenty of views and time to soak up the serenity of the forest.
We set out early in the morning from our AirBNB cabin we had rented the night before just outside of Mt. Ida, Arkansas. It was about a thirty minute drive to the trailhead. The road to the start was like a blast from the past. In fact, the small forest service dirt road used to be an old covered wagon trail for the mail to pass through this region. The fog of the mountains mixed with the dust in our headlights made for an eery drive with wildlife popping in and out of the wilderness as we cruised by.
There are multiple starting points for this loop of trails. We chose to start on the Northwest side at the Athens-Big Fork Trail. Once we arrived I started to place our GPS waypoint for the car, which would be left in the middle of the forest for three days. We made all the last minutes checks of our gear to ensure we had everything we would need, even though it didn’t really matter at this point.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
For the first leg, we decided to get all of the mountain hikes out of the way. We knew this would be the hardest part of the loop, but we wanted to get them out of the way now rather than kill ourselves on the last day. So we began to head South towards Brush Heap Mountain, amazing summit view, and Eagle Rock. Our goal was to set up camp on the top of Eagle Rock for the night.
After hiking nearly 7 miles we reached the spur trail for the summit to Brush Heap Mountain. After walking for hours in the deep protection of the forest, it was a breathtaking experience to all of a sudden pop out of the canopy and see for miles over the rolling Ouachita Forest mountain tops. Even at only 2,011ft of elevation, you feel as though you are on top of the world.
The view from Brush Heap was amazing, but we were tired and hungry. We could not get to the campsite fast enough. After we ate some dehydrated grub, more info here, we set up camp we relaxed the rest of the day. Swinging in our hammocks and just soaking in all the beauty, silently preparing ourselves for the next day of hiking.
Eagle Rock Trail. Click here to read part 2.
AllTrails Hiking App. Here is the map data that we used on this adventure.
Want More Gear Recommendations? Check out our Gear Reviews Section for top picks on everything from hiking boots to tires for your off-road rig.
Like this post? Click the little heart below to give us a digital pat on the back.
Have questions or comments? Leave a comment below, or drop us a message.