The Ozark Highlands Trail is quickly becoming one of my favorite destinations for day hiking or backpacking. The trailhead on this side of the 165-mile trail is at Lake Ft. Smith State Park. The park is nestled in the Boston Mountains on the shore of Lake Ft. Smith. You will find the trailhead behind the park office. The first two mile section of the trail follows along the shoreline offering up some scenic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
I packed my overnight gear with enough food to sustain me on this warm, 50 degree day in January. Overnight temperatures were forecasted to be in the low 40s, so I jumped at the chance for a relaxing solo trip.
Glad I made the trip. I stayed warm and comfortable in the hammock. Enjoyed a nice Mountain House meal of sweet and sour chicken. Tried out the new Trangia stove and windscreen. I just might be a convert to alcohol stoves.
Great food, great friends and amazing March weather at the HammockForums.net Third Annual Ozark Hang at Kyle’s Landing on the Buffalo River, Arkansas. We enjoyed a 12 mile float from Kyle’s to Ozark and an 8 mile trip from Steel Creek to Kyle’s Landing with a short stop at the falls in Hemmed In Hollow. I hope you enjoy the video of this treasured Arkansas river.
Cold weather camping is tolerable only because it’s voluntary. I made the choice to stay over on the Pigeon Roost Trail above Beaver Lake last weekend. My 40 degree Phoenix underquilt and Warbonnet Mamajamba are the two latest additions to my hammock camping arsenal. A mild, 50 degree Saturday seemed like a perfect opportunity to give them a try. What did I learn? It’s good to know the limits of your gear. A sub-freezing evening and almost freezing feet convinced me I have a nice 3-season hammock rig. Any camping below 32 degrees will require a warmer rated underquilt and at least, a 20 degree-rated top quilt. My existing sleeping bag just didn’t cut it. With all of that said, a night on the trail is always a great escape to adventure. I love this trail and the tall bluffs overlooking Beaver Lake, especially during leaf-off. Get out and have some fun. Stay overnight if you like. And bring your warm gear.
I had the pleasure of hiking one of the most picturesque sections of the Buffalo River Trail with my friend, David this past weekend. In this video, David shares an introduction to hammock camping based on his 5 years of hanging and light-weight backpacking.
The trail from Ponca, AR to Kyle’s Landing covers 10 miles of spectacular vistas and seasonal waterfalls in the creek valleys. We were fortunate to see and photograph a large elk herd in the Boxley Valley as well as 2 trumpeter swans before we began our overnight hike.
For those who might be interesting in hammock camping, I highly recommend the hammockforums.net website. It is run by friendly, helpful people eager to share their knowledge regardless of your experience level. Plus, the site is filled with pictures and videos of backcountry trips, gear reviews and all the best places to buy hammocks and hammock camping accessories.
What a great weekend hike on the Ozark Highlands Trail. The weather was perfect until the moment I crawled into my hammock and a steady rain ensued. I was pleased my rain tarp did its job and kept me and my gear dry and toasty. This 165-mile trail begins at Lake Ft. Smith, just off I-540. This first section is an easy 45 minute drive for me.
I wasn’t planning on rain, but I’m pleased I was able to test my tarp and hammock in a legitimate, backcountry, weather situation. I met a group of four hikers from Oklahoma who had a good deal of experience on the Ozark Highlands Trail. It’s always a pleasure to meet other backpackers. The area around Lake Ft. Smith State Park is wild and beautiful. The trees are nearing their peak fall color. The rugged mountains tower over the lake and the state park. I will most assuredly make future trips for day hikes, car camping and lake kayaking to this spectacular outdoor wilderness.
I had a great first-time experience in my HammockBliss hammock. It was a perfect night of sleeping in the rugged hills of the Buffalo Wilderness. Starting at the Compton Trailhead, the steep, winding trail is a downhill challenge. Trekking poles are recommended. Hemmed-In Falls was down to a trickle so I’ll have to go back to see it in the spring when the water is flowing. After a few detours, some on purpose, others not, Horseshoe Bend was the campsite. There was just enough water in the Buffalo to provide for cooking, cleaning and purifying. I’ll also mention the folks at Buffalo Outdoor Center are extremely helpful with information and pointing you in the right direction. I bought a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map of the western Buffalo River area. It has complete compatibility with your GPS so you can’t go wrong.
What a perfect weekend for an overnight backpacking trip. Hobbs State Park and Conservation Area is an outdoor treasure in Northwest Arkansas. I hiked the 4 mile day loop last summer and vowed to come backpacking on the longer, Huckleberry loop this fall. The trail ranks as an easy to moderate hike with plenty of blazes and trail signage. The trail itself is in wonderful shape and the scenery overlooking Beaver Lake is worth an admission price. The backcountry sites have fire rings and tent pads. It is a well-maintained, backcountry area perfect for a beginning or experienced backpacker. Just east of Rogers, AR, it’s close enough to civilization to make it convenient yet wild enough for a terrific backcountry adventure. As the leaves drop, the view of Beaver Lake from the campsites will get even better. I’m going back to see that. Put this on your “must-see” backpacking and hiking list.