The Hardest Hiking Trail In The State of Arkansas Is…
Imagine, eight mountains on a 10-mile hike, one way. I usually have trouble with one mountain, but eight? And from what I've read, there are very few switchbacks to ease the climb. The hike is named Athens-Big Fork, and it is the toughest hike in Arkansas.
Hiking for fun has recently become one of the trendiest things to do, even on dates, but if your relationship is new, you should probably pick an easier trail to follow. Most of the trails go east and west along the direction of the Ouachita Mountains (pronounced wash-eh-tah, not owacheeta). The trails will run up one side of a mountain then back down into the creek that flows through the valley below and there are a lot of those kinds of trails all over the state. The Athens-Big Fork trail started off over 100 years ago being a mail route between the towns of Athens and Big Fork, Arkansas. It wasn't for fun, it was to get somewhere, you know, the shortest route from point A to point B. Throw a mail sack over a mule's back and off you go. I can only imagine how many times a week the postman made that trip.
There's a great article about the Athens-Big Fork trail on a site called RightKindofLost.com that you should check out if considering this trail for a future trek.
The Forest Service suggests this is an 8 to 10-hour hike, one way. So logistics have to be carefully planned to pull this one off in a day.
From Texarkana to the southern Trail Head is up Hwy 71, over to Dierks, then through Umpire, then over to Athens, etc. About an hour and a half drive from Texarkana.
Here's a map:
The last really challenging trail I was on, the Scouts I was with nicknamed me "Wheezy" (not sure what that was all about), so I'm probably NOT going to tackle this one anytime soon, but maybe one day.
For more information on the Athens-Big Fork trail, click on the National Forest Site and be sure you download and print the PDF map and information. Hardcopies are great for WHEN your phone goes dead, not IF.