Located near Jessieville in the Ouachita National Forest, the 1.6 million acre ONF reminds many of the Sawtooth Mountains. The ONF has 400 miles of hiking trails with jagged climbs and descents through blackjack oak and butternut hickory forests.
The 223 mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail traverses the rugged, scenic peaks of the Ouachita Mountains from Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Arkansas to Talimena State Park in Oklahoma. While the entire trail could take up to a month, there are several nice short sections through fragile fern forests and wildflower gardens worth exploring. Keep an eye out for the faded triangle blazes.
The best segment is a three- to four-day, 46.3-mile hike that starts at Talimena State Park and runs along flat-topped ridges with views of forested mountains and sweeping valleys. Camp anywhere along the trail as it winds its way through pine, oak, hickory, and cherrywood forests. The final stretch takes you to the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line; if you have the muscle, push on another 5.3 miles to Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas.
To reach the trailhead from Oklahoma City, take US40 east 67 miles to Indian Nation Turnpike; then go south 41 miles to US 270 and east 13 miles to SR 1/63. Drive 35 miles to Talihina and follow the signs to Talimena State Park.
Overall, Ouachita National Trail is the 2nd most popular hiking trail of all 18 hikes in Arkansas.