Ouachita National Forest

There’s a beautiful time of year, a few days, between the end of the semester and exams. All the grading is done, the exam is written and copied, and I don’t have any work to do. I mean I still have work to do, I have to plan the next semester and I have to write a paper for my own classes, but I can take the time to reacquaint myself with the blog that I’ve been neglecting for months.

Our efforts to explore camping and hiking that’s accessible from Houston have taken us out of the state. West and South Texas goes on basically forever, but East and North is a different story. Last April we took Stella on a trip to Ouachita National Forest, the Oklahoma District. It was only a 7 hour drive! It was a long drive but in the grand scheme of driving to mountains it wasn’t bad. And once it got dark the full moon was amazing.

The campground we stayed at was on the top of a ridge, Winding Stair Campground. Just a few steps away was Emerald Vista, an overlook over the entire forest.

I can’t believe this is in Oklahoma, it looks Appalachian

So our first hike was on Billy Creek Trail, we made a loop that was supposed to be 4-5 miles. An important lesson was learned: bring an actual map. The instructions on the internet and the screenshot I took of a google image search of the area were not sufficient, and we ended up wandering down an atv trail for an embarrassing amount of time and eventually using the iphone compass to get back on the proper trail. Stella loved it though.

Stella loving life on the trail.
Parkour dog strikes again!
Everything is so much greener than it is in Texas!

We also hiked out on the Ouachita National Recreation Trail to a viewpoint along the scenic highway. It gave us a chance to check out the backpacking campsites near our campground which were really nice. No one camping there though, and although we were bopping up and down the National Recreation Trail all weekend in what seemed like the perfect time of year to do this trail we didn’t see any thru hikers. According to the internet, one book I saw it mentioned in, and the Trail Show, it’s lightly travelled, but it seems like a really nice trail.


For our final mellow hike we took a stroll around Cedar Lake, which gave us an opportunity to look back up to the ridge to our campground.

One thought on “Ouachita National Forest

  1. Linda Hamm

    It looks absolutely gorgeous between the majestic views of the mountains the lake and the trails. Absolutely beautiful and worth the short 7 hour drive!
    Thanks for sharing it gives me the opportunity to see areas I will never visit but am able to enjoy through your eyes.


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