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Ouachita National Recreation Trail, OK/AR

SOLD OUT! (Put me on the waiting list)

Oct 31 - Nov 8, 2020 -- $1275 ★★

Oklahoma is much better than "OK!"

The surprisingly not-well-known Ouachita National Recreation Trail stretches 223 miles through the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas. It traverses the only East-West Mountain Range in the lower 48. We will hike over 50 miles (Mile Markers 0-51.6) along the Oklahoma portion of this beautiful and seldom hiked trail, that goes between Little Rock, AR and Talimena, OK. The trail is inhabited by deer, wild turkeys, barred owls, hummingbirds, and if we're lucky, bald eagles and bears. But mostly, there are walking sticks, armadillos and interesting spiders such as tarantulas (There is no reason to fear tarantulas!).

Although few people have heard of it -- even in the backpacking community -- Fatpacking runs a trip on the Ouachita trail almost every year. So for those of you who have joined us in the past this is a section we as a group have not hiked before. This year we'll traverse the entire Oklahoma section of the trail during the Fall Foliage season, making use of several newly built shelters (optional).

Our journey will begin at Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas and will quickly cross over into Oklahoma on the 2nd day. We will visit several shelters such as Winding Stair, Stateline and Pashubbe and camp along a few creeks since water is very convenient there and camping near water is usually pretty nice anyway. The end of our trip is Talimena State Park

It's Fall in Oklahoma so we'll see Fall Foliage such as it is. So why not join us, visit a part of the country few ever see and get in shape in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season?


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures to be ideal -- in the 60s or 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 30s and 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of overnight temperatures as low as the 20s and the possibility of rain or even snow. It poured one day on the 2014 trip, but we were fortunate to arrive at our shelter just as the rain started. We stayed inside until the next morning when it cleared up.

View historic weather for this area.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Elisabeth Castleman


$1275 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Tulsa, OK (TUL), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation, fees, permits, insurance, and 2 awesome guides.


Much of the terrain on the Ouachita Trail is mellow and well graded -- indeed mountain bikes are allowed on some of this trail section -- but there are areas where contours can be steep and brushy. The most dramatic ascents/descents are about 700' which can be a challenge but are not long-lasting. The daily mileage is about 7.5 miles most days, with a few 9+ mile days thrown in (the last day unfortunately).


Since this trip operates out of Tulsa instead of Little Rock, we will not be visiting Hot Springs, AR sorry.

Click here for a water report
by selecting Use The Trail > Water Sources. If it's a dry year, water may be difficult to obtain on certain days meaning we'll have to carry extra to camp.

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Fly or drive into Tulsa (TUL). The best arrival time is between 12PM - 3PM, but if you can save a significant amount of money by arriving a little before or after, you should do so.

Take free airport shuttle to our local hotel Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Airport 7728 E Virgin Ct, Tulsa, OK 74115, 918-838-1444

Equipment shakedown. We go through your pack and examine everything you brought, noting any items you may have omitted or forgotten

Trail mix distribution

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go to Backwoods 6508 E. 51st St., Tulsa, OK 74145, (918) 664-7850 to pick up any equipment participants forgot or still need. Only open until 5PM

Go out for opening dinner and trip orientation. Dinner not included in trip cost.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Second set of "before" measurements taken

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.

Free hotel breakfast

Shuttle to Queen Wilhelmina State Park, AR, elevation 2600'

Begin hiking at Mile 51.6, elevation 2600'

There is no reliable water at Blue Mountain Shelter, so carry 6-8 liters today.

Hike 2.1 miles to Pioneer Cemetary at Mile 49.5, elevation 2600'

Hike 3.1 miles to State Line Shelter at Mile 46.4, elevation 2600'

Camp at State Line Shelter, elevation 2600' (Note: the Oklahoma State Line is 0.1 miles away.)

Miles today: 5.2. Total miles: 5.2

Possible bailout: Talimena Scenic Byway

Monday, November 2, 2020

Hike 0.1 miles to Oklahoma State Line at Mile 46.3, elevation 2600'

Hike 3.2 dramatically downhill miles to the Kiamichi River at Mile 43.1, elevation 1400'. Reliable water found here.

Hike 3.9 miles crossing the Kiamichi River several times to a good camping area at Mile 39.2, elevation 1200'.

Camp at the Kiamichi River at Mile 39.2, elevation 1200'

Miles today: 7.2. Total miles: 12.4

Possible bailout: Forest Road 514

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Hike 2.5 uphill miles to Wilton Mountain at Mile 36.7, elevation 2050'

Hike 2.4 downhill miles to the Pashubbe Trailhead at Mile 34.3, elevation 1100'

Hike 0.3 miles to the Pashubbe Shelter at Mile 34.0, elevation 1200'. If it's raining, we may camp here for the night, otherwise we'll continue hiking.

Hike 2.4 miles to a good campsite with reliable water at Mile 31.6, elevation 1250'

Dispersed camp at Mile 31.6, elevation 1250'

Miles today: 7.6. Total miles: 20.0

Possible bailout: Forest Road 6032

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

There is no reliable water at Winding Stairs Shelter, so carry 6-8 liters today (there is some water at Red Spring at Mile 28.4 along the way if needed).

Hike 1.1 miles to Big Cedar Trailhead Route 259 at Mile 30.5, elevation 1100'

Hike 3.5 uphill miles to Rough Mountain at Mile 27.0, elevation 2000'

Hike 2.0 miles to Winding Stairs Mountain Shelter and Tower at Mile 25.0, elevation 2300'

Camp at Winding Stairs Shelter, elevation 2300'

Miles today: 6.6. Total miles: 26.6

Possible bailout: Highway 259

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Hike 5.1 miles to Horsethief Springs at Mile 19.9, elevation 1750'

Fill all water vessels here as there may be no more reliable water tonight (and in very dry years for the rest of the trip).

Hike 3.1 miles to Holson Valley Vista Shelter at Mile 16.8, elevation 1550'

Camp at Holson Valley Vista Shelter, elevation 1550'

Miles today: 8.2. Total miles: 34.8

Possible bailout: Talimena Scenic Byway

Friday, November 6, 2020

Hike 5.6 miles to Cedar Branch at Mile 11.2, elevation 1200’

Cedar Branch is the last reliable water for the rest of the trip

Hike 1.8 miles to the Rock Garden Shelter at Mile 9.4, elevation 1300’

Camp at Rock Garden Shelter, elevation 1300'

Miles today: 7.4. Total miles: 42.2

Possible bailout: Talimena Scenic Byway

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Wake up and break camp extremely early as this is a long day, but fortunately we will be carrying almost no food.

Hike 9.4 miles to Talimena State Park, elevation 1050'

End of hiking

The shuttle comes to pick us up

Shuttle back to Tulsa Hotel Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Airport 7728 E Virgin Ct, Tulsa, OK 74115, 918-838-1444

"After" measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Free breakfast in Hotel

Free Airport Shuttle

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