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  1. #1

    Default Ozark Highlands Trail vs. Ouachita trail... Any preference?

    Going to attempt to thru hike one of these this November, both around 200 miles, has anyone done both and can comment on a comparison of experiences?

    Beauty / Scenery comparisons?
    Camping/shelter comparisons?
    Resupply easier on either?
    Logistics/access to trail ends?
    Water supply?
    Trail difficulty?
    Pointless ups and downs?

    I plan on simply driving, parking at one end, hiring a ride to the other, hike back to truck.

    Any help appreciated ! I look forward to yet one more little 2-week leg stretcher this fall.

  2. #2
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    I have completed the Ouachita trail but bailed on the Ozark Highlands trail (because of hazardous water crossings). I thoroughly enjoyed the Ouachita as I only saw people during 3 of the 17 days I was on trail. Half of them were trail maintainers. The short time I was on the OHT (70ish miles) I didn't see many either. I did both in spring. I suspect that you will see more during a fall hike.

    Beauty/scenery is similar
    Camping spots were easy to find. The OT does have a few shelters. I slept in one as it was in a nice stopping point.
    Resupply was easy on the OT and I didn't anticipate any problems on the OHT although I stopped prior to getting to my mail-drop.
    OT had one section (20 miles) that was dry. I think I remember reading that it would be re-routed to alleviate this issue? OHT was raining continuously so for me too much water and the creeks were swollen torrents...
    Ya, to some extent there are puds and muds. But, the western section of the OT was a bit rougher terrain than what I had anticipated.

    Sorry I am not more specific. If you need me to I could dig out my journals and discuss a bit more in detail but with your experience either trail will be fairly easy. I used a shuttle for the OT and paid about 120 bucks. But it has been a year to two so would guess it is a bit higher now.

    I'm sure you have discovered the guidebooks by Tim Ernst. Top notch books. Not sure if they have been updated but once again with your experience you don't need all details spoon-fed to you.

    Let me know if you want more specifics and I will dig out the journals.
    Lonehiker

  3. #3
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Actually, PM me if you decide on the Ozark Highlands Trail. If it fits into my schedule I would be open to a key swap.
    Lonehiker

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    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Those can be a little dry in fall. Ouachita may have long waterless stretch.
    Spring is much better, OHT has waterfalls everywhere, creek crossings are fun after rain, except hurricane creek. Can go days without seeing another hiker.

    Dry creek
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    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 10-09-2018 at 20:33.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    I have completed the Ouachita trail but bailed on the Ozark Highlands trail (because of hazardous water crossings). I thoroughly enjoyed the Ouachita as I only saw people during 3 of the 17 days I was on trail. Half of them were trail maintainers. The short time I was on the OHT (70ish miles) I didn't see many either. I did both in spring. I suspect that you will see more during a fall hike.

    Beauty/scenery is similar
    Camping spots were easy to find. The OT does have a few shelters. I slept in one as it was in a nice stopping point.
    Resupply was easy on the OT and I didn't anticipate any problems on the OHT although I stopped prior to getting to my mail-drop.
    OT had one section (20 miles) that was dry. I think I remember reading that it would be re-routed to alleviate this issue? OHT was raining continuously so for me too much water and the creeks were swollen torrents...
    Ya, to some extent there are puds and muds. But, the western section of the OT was a bit rougher terrain than what I had anticipated.

    Sorry I am not more specific. If you need me to I could dig out my journals and discuss a bit more in detail but with your experience either trail will be fairly easy. I used a shuttle for the OT and paid about 120 bucks. But it has been a year to two so would guess it is a bit higher now.

    I'm sure you have discovered the guidebooks by Tim Ernst. Top notch books. Not sure if they have been updated but once again with your experience you don't need all details spoon-fed to you.

    Let me know if you want more specifics and I will dig out the journals.
    Thanks! Great info. I'll pm you tomorrow, perhaps we can help each other out.

  6. #6

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    I have completed the OT, but still working on the OHT

    Beauty / Scenery comparisons? Both, more water and waterfalls on OHT
    Camping/shelter comparisons? OT has lots of shelters (mostly new) that are hardly ever used (therefore no mice), never been there with another person
    Resupply easier on either? Nothing like AT on either, Queen Wilhemenia State Park on OT has a great buffet (and showers)
    Logistics/access to trail ends?
    OT is great because if going East you end at Pinnacle Mountain. Another 16 miles and you can take the Arkansas River Trail into North Little Rock to Greyhound bus station (and get there early and only blocks from lots of Fast Food). I spent night at camp site a couple of miles past Pinnacle (great to take a shower).
    Water supply? Better on OHT, cached some on OT

    Trail difficulty? Both similar to AT from NC to MA, but significantly easier than NH & ME
    Pointless ups and downs? Some, but not as bad as the roller coaster in VA

    Strongly recommend the books Tim Ernst wrote on both trails.
    OHT also has good maps.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
    Richard Ewell, CSA General


  7. #7
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    lots of hunting on the
    Ouachita - probably the same on the Ozark - IMO the hunters were polite and more professional than other areas { 9 months of hunting season in AR)

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    lots of hunting on the
    Ouachita - probably the same on the Ozark - IMO the hunters were polite and more professional than other areas { 9 months of hunting season in AR)
    I have run into multiple hunters on both trails. Please note that AR even has a special between Christmas and New Years hunting season (days).

    Some type of blaze orange in the Fall/Winter is probably a good idea.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
    Richard Ewell, CSA General


  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    lots of hunting on the
    Ouachita - probably the same on the Ozark - IMO the hunters were polite and more professional than other areas { 9 months of hunting season in AR)
    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    I have completed the OT, but still working on the OHT

    Beauty / Scenery comparisons? Both, more water and waterfalls on OHT
    Camping/shelter comparisons? OT has lots of shelters (mostly new) that are hardly ever used (therefore no mice), never been there with another person
    Resupply easier on either? Nothing like AT on either, Queen Wilhemenia State Park on OT has a great buffet (and showers)
    Logistics/access to trail ends?
    OT is great because if going East you end at Pinnacle Mountain. Another 16 miles and you can take the Arkansas River Trail into North Little Rock to Greyhound bus station (and get there early and only blocks from lots of Fast Food). I spent night at camp site a couple of miles past Pinnacle (great to take a shower).
    Water supply? Better on OHT, cached some on OT

    Trail difficulty? Both similar to AT from NC to MA, but significantly easier than NH & ME
    Pointless ups and downs? Some, but not as bad as the roller coaster in VA

    Strongly recommend the books Tim Ernst wrote on both trails.
    OHT also has good maps.
    Thanks for all this great info! And also thanks for that tip on hunting season, I might have forgotten to wear/carry something blaze orange.

    I'm going to give the OHT a shot in a couple weeks.

  10. #10
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    OHT has more water available and is a bit shorter (depending on where you exit... it's been extended in the last few years). I've hiked part of both and prefer the OHT. The OT does have some shelters although when I was there the 'water source' for one of the shelters was a scum covered pond (or puddle).
    Good Hiking!
    Chief Wounded Knee

  11. #11
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    Going to attempt to thru hike one of these this November, both around 200 miles, has anyone done both and can comment on a comparison of experiences?
    I've done both as thru hikes during different yrs as part of a stacking of several thru-hikes of diverse natures in one back to back to back series. One yr I did a JMT SOBO, Superior Tr/Boundary Waters, and lastly OT thrus, in that order followed up by a AT/BMT LASH I was previously referring. A different yr I did the Lone Star, followed by an EABO OHT followed by a Buffalo River paddle/hike. I did all the sections of the OHT including the bushwack between disjointed segments along the Buffalo River.
    Beauty / Scenery comparisons?

    OHT was in the fall. It was more scenic than a late summer going into fall OT EABO., a humid arse hike. Even if both had been in the fall I'd give the greater natural beauty to the OHT hands down no question. It's by far a more interesting trail without having to deviate off the trail. Deviating off the OT makes it more diverse.
    Camping/shelter comparisons?

    OT has some nice clean new AT like shelters. OHT doesnt have them per say. CS's and more than a few CG's(you walk through) were aplenty on the OHT. Some scenic ideal CSs on the OHT!
    Resupply easier on either?

    Both were about the same but do know I tend to mail resupply boxes and am not adverse to hitching to the mailed sites which usually are USPO's or CG's. I did hitch to Hot Springs NP for two so called "zero" days on the OT EABO thru where I soaked in one of the spas, hiked a "mountain", slept in a cave, and yes did a buy as I went resupply at that stop.
    Logistics/access to trail ends?

    For the OHT I Ghound into the outskirts of Fort Smith to a gas station. Ubered to downtown. Hung around for two days seeing the sites downtown and then Ubered to the western OHT TH at Lake Fort smith($40). At the end I Ghound again but hitched out to a servicing town. I rec the Sylamore OHT segments and along the BR of the BRT. Plenty of shuttlers if you don't like talking up rides. Buffalo River is a National Scenic River.
    For the OT I again Ghound or other buslined to the town of Talihina or near abouts??? Harder IMHO to get to the western OT terminus than teh OHT western terminus but I lucked into it. Next morn was Sun. Stepped into a church in Talihina and got a ride to the western OT TH at Talimena SP. At Pinnacle SP outside Little Rock walked into LR along bike paths along and across the Arkansas river, the same damn river outside of Salida but very much different by the time it reaches AR. There's a bus though from P SP. Ask at Visitors Center AFTER checking out the Sightseeing Deck. There were bus schedules outside the center on a wall. From LR Ghound again.

    Water supply?

    OT is tougher. I was grateful to unexpectedly run into one water cache on Wilhemina Dr as the W Hotel was closed for reno. It's not terrible but takes more thought then the OHT, at least during the seasons and yrs when I experienced both trails. For you I'd surmise since you're experienced in logistics it shouldn't be that huge an issue.
    Trail difficulty?

    OHT is more strenuous. rockier, more elev changes, water logistics of OT need addressing, etc
    Pointless ups and downs?

    There are usually pointed reasons we're not aware of for what we deem pointless. I wouldn't say either trail has much of the PUD factor though.

    I plan on simply driving, parking at one end, hiring a ride to the other, hike back to truck.
    I dont know how you would plan for that. Might want to park. Continue on one trail one direction, take the other trail back and get a shuttle to your car. This way you experience some of both trails?
    Any help appreciated ! I look forward to yet one more little 2-week leg stretcher this fall.

    Get Ernst materials. The OHT east and West maps are indispensable. I'd loan ya mine but I'm leaving for a hike manana. Get the OT topos.

    I'm not that gung ho on repeating thrus again and again but I'd consider thruing the OHT again, prolly in winter Dec or so. The OT not so much,never. Some very good LD and day hiking in AR that could receive more respect from hikers especially the east coast only crowd.

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    One last thought. The OHT has been ranked high as one of the USA's premier LD trails.

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    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    One last thought. The OHT has been ranked high as one of the USA's premier LD trails.
    Its a decent short trail.
    Its not really long distance imo.

    What it lacks in scenery, it makes up in solitude, remoteness, and un-tamed water crossings that are part of what wilderness hiking is supposed to be about. An aspect removed from most trails.

    Having done spring and fall...they are as different as can be. Wet vs dry.

    Downside...sometime it do feel like a trail just laid between two points to have a trail there, with nothing interesting to see, or historical reasons, etc.. Because..it basically was in places.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 10-18-2018 at 23:33.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    There always seemed to be another waterfall, cave, hollow, view(White Rock Mt hiking along the edge was phenomenal, definitely go over the top on trail rather than the base!, seek a cabin in the CG for a night, the bluffs at night are fantastic!), river trail, occasional ford, roaring creek or river, escarpment, bluff, pinnacle, geological feature, short scree field from water, place to soak, easyish climbs and gentle enough descents with some color with the occasional large reservoir to keep me well interested. Those OHT hikers who fail to experience much of the Buffalo River or the newest OHT segments miss out on some greater diversity in respect to history, nature, BR bluffs, wildlife, etc The only thing I wish the OHT took more in was Richland Crk Wilderness which it misses the best part of IMO.

    The huge greasy portions from the Ozone Burger Barn in a downpour and at the Oark General Store in the middle of nowhere were memorable. I really like the folks from those little towns. They treated this outsider with the utmost hospitality. It reminded me of those backwoods small town plain spoken unpretentious southern folk of the AT. Every hike isnt just about the trail but who you meet along the way and the times off the trail. That's what makes the AT so awesome too. We only connect with these trails when we allow ourselves to see thruhiking as more than hiking. We have to let it in, to connect with it beyond just that 30" wide tread or as the guidebook or others always say , to maybe have more to say about a hike/trail than "yeah I knocked that one off too."

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Its a decent short trail.
    Its not really long distance imo.

    What it lacks in scenery, it makes up in solitude, remoteness, and un-tamed water crossings that are part of what wilderness hiking is supposed to be about. An aspect removed from most trails.

    Having done spring and fall...they are as different as can be. Wet vs dry.

    Downside...sometime it do feel like a trail just laid between two points to have a trail there, with nothing interesting to see, or historical reasons, etc.. Because..it basically was in places.

    LD trail vs. SD trail... petty semantics. It’s over 200 miles, tales a couple of weeks to thru, so I’ll call it a “middle distance” trail.
    It’s subjective, but I think it’s a beautiful trail. I’ve done both a continuous thru and hiked all the sections many times, and I’m always delighted by either the views, foliage, or wildlife sightings. Bear, elk, deer, turkey, etc.

    Folks that are so jaded that they literally can’t see the forest for the trees, I have empathy for. I recommend the OHT for anyone else.

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