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Earthquake Ridge Trail Upper Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (4) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The top half of the Earthquake Trail Loop in Ouachita National Forest.


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Map Key

2.1

Miles

3.4

KM

Loop

1,721' 525 m

High

1,410' 430 m

Low

318' 97 m

Up

318' 97 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

15%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife

The visitor center closes during winter season.

Overview

Steep, rocky, rooty, and exhilarating, this is the best hiking experienced in Southeastern Polk County.

Need to Know

Park at the visitor center.
Skyline Cafe for breakfast.
American Artisans for lunch.
Rosa's Flora's Taco Truck: Cocina Flores or Chicolo's Americana grill for an excellent dinner.

Description

This is a great little trail for the technical aficionado: rocky, rooty, fresh and fruity. The National Forest says the trail was named after some interesting rock formations. These are dotted in a few spots on the loop, but they are not the show stopper. They can be as slippery as a snail's snot on a banana, so tread with caution. They will be forgetful unless you fall.

Which brings us to the highlight of the trail. The ridge. It's steep. Any misstep will lead to a great tumble. Don't fear death as you are always less than a mile from the scenic highway. Do fear black bear in the summer months, they get crazy cranky. Also pay no heed to the sound of gunfire. It’s just the police department firing range near the old Ward Creek Dam. Which is why it is best not to stray too far off the blaze. Don't worry if you do get shot, cell phone coverage on the trail is good. GPS is sketchy though, so don't get lost. If you do get lost, the train passes every half hour, you can follow the sound of the horn downhill and it will lead you to town.

Favorite things of note on the trail: the trail tree and the giant cross. Trail trees aren't myth, unfortunately this one was killed in the 2013 ice storm but it is still a beauty to behold. I am not going to tell you where the giant cross is lest you wander off trail and get lost or shot or mauled. Simply know that when you are in town on a clear night, from the old Shaver House, looking up toward Rich Mountain, the cross will be a tiny landmark lit upon the mountain. Know that at some point during the loop you were a few stones throw from it. Hike long and Hike wild.

Flora & Fauna

See deer, fox, eagle, groundhog, bear, and the ocassional badger. No Yeti have been observed.

Contacts

Shared By:

il coyote

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 4 votes

#2448

Overall
  4.5 from 4 votes
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#9

in Arkansas

#2,448

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Photos

This dirt road leads to the Ward Dam. The gate closes at random times, so you can be trapped if you drive here.
Feb 27, 2017 near Mena, AR
The Smiling Trail Tree is older than your great grandparents. It marks the beginning of the RMT.
Jan 13, 2017 near Mena, AR
Make a left when you see this sign.
Feb 27, 2017 near Mena, AR
From the visitor's parking, head north to a sign at the mountain biking trailhead. Go right when you see this sign. Go left when the trail forks shortly after.
Jan 5, 2017 near Mena, AR

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Check-Ins

Sep 12, 2020
Big Bird
Rocky and it was damp this morning so some of the trail was slick. Great workout! 2.2mi — 1h 42m
May 30, 2020
Calvin Cagle
We're hiking! — 12h 45m
May 24, 2019
Jennifer Cooper
2.1mi — 1h 00m