Features: Birding — Cave — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: This trail connects 3 established campgrounds which makes hiking and camping as a family relatively easy for all ages. There are many fun things to do along the way including swimming and spelunking.
The following trail description was written by Charlie Williams at ouachitamaps.com
. Weatherproof topographical maps of the trail can be purchased from Charlie. For more information on how to purchase a map click here
The trail begins on the northeast side of the Cripple Turkey parking lot. Follow the blue blazes.
At about 4.3 miles the trail turns south. At 4.7 miles it crosses Barkshed Creek and Cole Road. Barkshed will be your first water. In about a half mile, the trail climbs to the steep side of Barkshed valley and stays there until it reaches the Sylamore valley.
In the Sylamore valley, the trail stays high most of the time. At about 7.9 miles, the trail heads downhill towards river level.
At 9.4 miles, the trail comes out to the road at Barkshed Rec Area. Turn left and cross the old iron bridge. From the iron bridge, the trail follows the road as it exits the recreation area on the east side and turns south into the woods at the big sign.
After a mile or so, the trail comes out of a long overhang, pinches through some rocks and then climbs out to a small overlook. A quick turn to the left and then trail begins its descent to Glades Branch. At the branch, the trail is close enough to Sylamore Creek to give easy access. Then it climbs to another bluff.
The trail descends again, comes alongside the creek and joins FR 1102, Gunner Road. Cross the bridge (mile 13.0) and enter Gunner Pool Rec Area. Stay on the main road leaving the recreation area to the south. Just past the main sign, the trail leaves the road to the left and heads into the woods.
The trail reaches the bottom of the hill, crosses a small bridge (15.1 miles) and enters a small prairie. The trail soon picks up an old forest road and follows the creek for about a half mile. At mile 16.3, the trail leaves the road to the left, and stays on the side off the mountain for a little over a mile. At about 17.3 miles, the trail begins its descent to the Blanchard Spring Rec Area.
Follow the road across it to an old building where the trail heads back into the woods. At mile 21, the trail crosses Slick Rock Hollow. Your approach to the creek is a set of stone stairs that brings you to the creek side. Cross the creek, cross the field, and you are at the trailhead. Congratulate yourself on a great long day!