This was by far my favorite section of the Ozark Highlands Trail to date. The scenery was excellent throughout and we hit it at a perfect time of the year as the leaves off in the upper elevations gave access to tremendous views of remaining colors over the lower elevations. It is a strenuous trail but of the first three sections I have hiked so far this one was easily the least taxing physically. There are a couple of deep descents throughout the course but only a handful of ascents and those are measuring no more than 500ft and usually not even that much.
This 8.5-mile loop trail is located 18 miles north of Ozark, off Arkansas Highway 23 and was featured in Backpacker Magazine, so I am told, some years back. You will get a beautiful drive through the Ozarks on your way to the trail head at the Redding Campground. The trail itself is just a little over 6 miles but there is a side trail you will not want to miss that will take you to Spy Rock.
I did this one early October and there was still a lot of greenery on the trail but there are likely benefits to hiking it in any season. I could see fall and winter making a nice time to hike during leaf off and especially after a good rain as there was a lot of potential for waterfalls when I was there. The campground itself does not have any services except toilets that I noticed. The trail is somewhat maintained but I would bring a map (see link below) to be safe as the markers were a bit dated and faded and I had a hard time locating them once the sun started to set. (more…)