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Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Multi-Use Trails

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There’s nothing quite like a scenic overlook in one of Arkansas’s national forests. We often find such treasured places at the turn-off of a long and winding road: an expansive view of hills and valleys seen through a break in thick, forested wilderness. But such views can also be discovered on foot while hiking or on the back of an off-road vehicle. The state’s multiple-use trails make up a system that covers hundreds of miles of Arkansas national forest terrain and provides outdoor lovers the opportunity to enjoy the land in ways beyond traditional hiking.

We have no shortage of such trails in The Natural State.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Trails Made For All Kinds of Adventures

Although the typical visions of hikers and backpackers may come to mind, multi-use trails are designed for many different activities. Individual trails may have specific regulations but in general, these may be open to:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Dirt Biking
  • Off-Highway Vehicles
  • Four-wheelers
  • Horseback Riding

These trails are also great places to collect miles toward your Iron Ranger Challenge badge.

Arkansas’s multi-use trails have been set up to encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of the wilderness that has been set aside for exploration and recreation.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

How to Use These Trails Responsibly

One of the most significant issues that the Forest Service faces with multi-use trails is called “unmanaged recreation,” primarily with the use of four-wheelers. This is when individuals go off-trail, enter restricted areas, or cause problems with other trail users. Recommendations for trail-users:

  • Stay on the designated trail. This prevents soil erosion, increased sedimentation and vegetation and habitat loss.
  • Practice safe riding. Wear appropriate safety gear and travel at speeds that are respectful of others using the trails.
  • Follow all posted regulations. All usage regulations and restrictions will be posted at trailheads. It is the responsibility of individual users to be aware of any changes or updates and follow all rules.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Trails in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests encompass over a million acres of land. The forests contain thousands of miles of trails for various recreation activities, including over 1,000 miles of trails for off-highway vehicles.

Brock Creek Multi-Use Trail System
8499 Wilderness Trail, Jerusalem, AR 72080

The 42 miles of trails in this system consist of two major loops and many interconnecting loops. Users will enjoy crystal clear streams, oak and hickory forests and rock bluffs. The trails are family-friendly and fun for all rider skill levels.

Moccasin Gap Horse Trail
State Route 7 N, Dover, AR 72837

Located just 23 miles north of Russellville, Moccasin Gap was initially designed as a horse trail but is now open to a variety of recreation activities. Thirty-six miles of trails lead users past scenic bluffs and along wooded hillsides. Moccasin Gap is a fee area, and pay stations are located at the day-use parking area and campground.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail
Paris, AR 72855

You can saddle up a horse on the 37-mile Huckleberry trail, or take advantage of the expansion that allows users to experience the trail on wheels or on foot. The area is known for its sandstone bluffs, pristine waters and spectacular views. Six trail crossings occur at Big Shoal Creek, which can provide water for horses but may be challenging to navigate during times of high water.

Mill Creek Trail
27302 Mill Creek Rd., Elkins, AR 72727

Primarily a trail for off-highway vehicles, Mill Creek is still open to all kinds of overland recreation. The trail is remote and challenging but provides 42 miles of recreation, unique rock outcrops and scenic views. A $3.00 day-use fee is required.

Buckhorn Trail System
19454 N Lee Creek Rd Chester, AR 72934

Beginning and experienced hikers can find a trail to fit their level within the 60-mile system at Buckhorn. Riders and hikers will travel past points of interest, such as Devil’s Kettle, Lee Creek Beach, Lee Creek Overlook, Ben Doodle Falls, the Steam Boiler, Yellow Jacket Ridge and Hart Creek Hollow.

Always be sure to check regulations at each trail. Trails may be accessible to a variety of vehicles, but they may be restricted in areas surrounding the trails. To find more trails or if you are interested in learning about quieter trails open only to hikers check the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests webpage.

Header photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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