Athens Big Fork Trail

Nearest Towns:

Mena, Arkansas
Mt. Ida, Arkansas


Ouachita National Forest

Trail Highlights
Rather than running east to west along creek beds like other trails on the Caddo Ranger District, this trail runs north to south across the mountains.  Crossing eight mountains, the trail is considered an extremely strenuous ride.  Trail features include spectacular views of the Ouachita Mountains from such high points as Eagle Rock Vista, Brushheap Mountain, and Hurricane Knob.  A mystical cave, located 35 feet below the trail on the south side of Brushy Mountain and a geologic outcropping, located 150 feet south of the highest point on Brushy Mountain, add to the biker's experience.  This area is some of the most beautiful locations in the Ouachita National Forest.  So be sure to pack out all that you bring in.

Length: 10. 1 miles, one way.

Travel time, one way: 4 to 5 hours.

Surface type: Unsurfaced.

Difficulty level: Most difficult.

Recommended season: Fall and Winter.

Water: None.  Be sure to carry an adequate supply.


Local Rider Input
Few have ridden this amazing trail.  And there will be few that will find any enjoyment in it.  But if you are in the area and you like to stomp on the granny gear till you get sick, then this trail is for you.  It is without a doubt the steepest single track trail to be found in the state.  Six hills, climbing probably climbing over 400 feet each!  (I have never measured).  Granny gear climbs, and two full handfuls of brakes on the descents.  Starting near Shady Lake and traveling 10.1 miles to Big Fork.  It is in remarkable condition considering the grade.  Only for the demented and self abusive person.  Take along someone you want to pay back for some terrible thing they did to you.  Probably best to have a shuttle set up, although it would be possible to loop back by dirt roads if you have not had enough fun. 

Southern trailhead: Take Highway 246 west from Athens to Forest Road 38 and turn right for 9/10 miles, turn right onto Weyerhaeuser Road 53800 for 7/10 mile, then left on Forest Road B23F and follow it 9/10 mile to the trailhead sign.  Northern trailhead: Take Highway 8 from Big Fork to Forest Road 38 and turn south.  Travel for 1.5 miles to Forest Road B 15.  The trailhead is at the end of Forest Road B 15.

This historic, 100-year-old postal trail was partly restored in 1986 through the joint efforts of the Forest Service and the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society.  The trail was completed by the Student Conservation Association in 1993.

Trail marking:
White rectangles.


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