When we stayed at Charlton Campground in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas for the Memorial Day holiday, we were lucky enough to have an excellent hiking trail beginning (or ending, depending on your perspective!) right in the campground.
This 4.3-mile (one-way) trail runs from the Charlton Recreation Area over to the Crystal Springs Corps of Engineer campground on Lake Ouachita. It crosses a couple of ridges, one steep, so there is a fair amount of climbing and descending. We definitely appreciated our hiking poles! The trail is also open for mountain biking, but I can't imagine riding on the part of it we started on, with narrow switchbacks going up, up, up. Definitely beyond our technical skill level on the mountain bikes.
The maps below that I nabbed from a mountain biking site show the trail map and elevation profile, starting from Charlton recreation area on the bottom of the map and left side on the elevation profile. I am guessing that the colors show the degree of technical difficulty, with green being easy and red being most difficult.
The photo below shows the top of the highest ridge near Charlton Campground. It was absolutely full of poison ivy. Thankfully, I am not allergic, and Barry managed to get through this area coming and going without picking any up. Probably best to wear long pants if you are seriously allergic, though. Other than the poison ivy, it was a really pretty area with many beautiful rocks.
We got a good day for our long hike, overcast and cool. It was only 72 degrees when we got back in the afternoon. Not bad for late May!
This is Pipe Springs. The water is always running, but a sign warns against drinking the water without boiling it. It is on a forest road that the Charlton Trail crosses.
Below is one of the many switchbacks that take you up to the highest ridge. I am smiling because I am on my way down and almost finished with our 8.6+-mile hike!
I am sure this hike would be absolutely gorgeous during fall foliage season, but in the spring, you'll get to see a variety of pretty wildflowers, like these.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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