Ouachita National Forest

Hiking - Viles Branch Equestrian Trail

Trail Highlights: View the designated wild and scenic Little Missouri River through the Winding Stairs area. This area is known for its unique geological formations and outstanding water features.

The most popular segment of the trail is from the Winding Stairs area to Shady Lake. Many hikers use a 4-mile section connecting the Little Missouri Trail to the Athens-Big Fork Trail.

This trail consists of a 19.4-mile loop with a 3.3-mile section. Part of the route travels along Forest Roads 38 and 106. The remainder of the route travels an old road that is no longer open to motor vehicle traffic.

Surrounding Areas: Albert Pike Recreation Area, a well developed camping area, offers swimming, camping, and fishing opportunities. Little Missouri Falls, a forested picnic area, offers fishing and a trail to a waterfall overlook. For more hiking experiences in the area try the Little Missouri or the Athens-Big Fork Trail.

Length: 26 miles.

Travel Time: 6 to 10 hours on horseback. Two days hiking.

Access: There are two trailheads available:

East Trailhead - From Langley, AR, take Highway 369 north 3 miles to Forest Road 2106.
West Trailhead - From Shady Lake Recreation Area take Forest Road 38 for 1/2 mile south to Forest Road 502. The trailhead is 1/4 mile from the intersection.

Surface Type: Gravel and dirt.

Water: Treat all lake and stream water before drinking.

Difficulty Level: Horseback - difficult; hiking - easy to most difficult.

Notes: Watch for motor vehicles on Forest Roads 38 and 106. Use caution when crossing river and streams during high water.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 23 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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