Rich Mountain Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,930' 588 m
Descent: -1,147' -350 m
High: 2,552' 778 m
Low: 1,747' 533 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)
Current trail conditions
Popular hikes nearby
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Holson Valley Trail
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Ouachita National Recreation Trail
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“Western Arkansas' finest trail.”— il coyote
This trail caused Ben Franklin's gout. Although he aspired to temperate living, he couldn't prevent gorging himself on this trail. This mountain is chocolate decadent descents and copious creamy climbs. This is Western Arkansas family style cooking at its finest. This is not the white table cloth singletrack reservation required cuisine of the Berkshires, so do say grace before you proceed.
These hills are old. So old they used to be mountains as tall as the Rockies. They require respect, as do the people that named them. The same people who fought and killed Hernando De Soto, although the French named them the Ouachita, it's merely the phonetic French spelling of a Caddo word. The fact is the French language hadn't been invented by the time this mountain's original tongue was forgotten. The people that claimed these hills as home did so for a reason. You'll know why after you begin to ascend.
The remnants of the mountain's heritage are not only tasted and smelled; they are felt beneath your feet and even more so heard in the wind that unexpectedly whispers mysterious long forgotten dirges through the hardwood and pine. From the Louisiana Purchase, Spanish conquistadores, and fiercest warrior tribes, to geological anomalies: the Rich Mountain is trail and history hand in hand. So kick back and enjoy, turn off your phone and listen. Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy all this rich mountain trail has to offer. You'll be glad you did.
This trail's audio representation is brought to you by the Western Front EP, by our alternative folk friends: The Moonage Shine. Close your eyes whilst you listen and feel Rich Mountain Trail enter your soul.
If you are hiking from the top to bottom, you'll dine at American Artisans Cafe, hands down, the best lunch in town. Salads, sandwiches and soups. Rick and Donna, the owners, are mostly responsible for making Mena the hip place for adventurers to visit. Bring money so you can purchase some local art.
Arkansan summer means vacationing the Gulf Shores in cutoff shorts and pasty beer bellies steering clear of Pabst Blue Ribbon anglers chumming the shoreline for inebriated hopes of catching the big one. If you’ve seen an Alabama shore shark caught in three feet of murky water, you'll recognize the fear you'll have when hiking through Great White Grass. Waist high and unable to see your feet, it’s not white, nor great, but you’ll hear the theme song of Jaws whilst working your way through it. Ouachita rocks lurk below eagerly awaiting to take off a toe. GWG twists ankles & blesses hikers with copious seed ticks. There is also the unsolved mystery of Bearcat Bushes. Bears here? Yes, and contrary to National Forest animal population stats, mountain lions too. Sadly, no bearcats. Outside of being MHS's most excellent school mascot, the bearcat doesn’t exist. It’s a mythical creature akin to the centaur, but more Arkansan.
An enigma similar, is its namesake invisible bush. Hiking into, alongside or through the invisible bearcat bush instigates puritanical belief Bearcats exist. Post hike hocks magically adorn beautifully crosshatched cat- bear scratch weeping wounds which itch like poison oak rubbed in attic insulation. The vain of leg best don long stocking for leg vein protection.
Main course: Beginning mile 6, rocks from the ancient mountain have clawed from the earth exposing themselves on either side of the trail; jagged, moss covered, appearing to be man laid and beckoning hikers proceed upward as if the trail end led to an ancient castle hung precipice reminiscent of your favorite movie, historically set in the middle ages. Ask yourself why the Hollywood movie titled "American Made” was filmed in Georgia instead of our beloved hometown. A side dish of #Mena Conspiracy goes delightfully with the next few miles and what will most likely be your favorite trail bites. The mountain steers hikers down a series of switchbacks settling to a quiet though beckoning ascent to soft piney ridges where forest animals convene, leaving prints in thick trail mud for adventurers to decipher. (Hint: feral hogs distinguished print with a dew claw outside of the hoof) Bacon and danger=delicious.
Hop the Scenic Byway, meet up with the Ouachita Trail and let the distinct smell of mountain spring, wild honey and moss occupy your palate as you ascend a staircase of thick stone during a momentary jaunt amidst the shadows of the Black Fork Mountain.
Dessert is served: Decadent, delectable and divine, devilishly decorated with hints of bad intentions. The second highest peak in the state did not gain her altitude without a fight. In the crux of her glades are the remnants of her wrestlings from the tectonic grips that bound her against her will. Gigantic boulders strewn about in jagged gigantic shards of ornately aged granite, the port and starboard line of the trail morphs into living chocolate molten cake sharply topped with caramelized toffees and the stones you hop over. A sure foot is needed; many a stone and boulder simply lay on the trail and are easily disturbed into movement by a fast moving foot. Sadly, the end of the Rich supper is subtly announced with the rising gusts of wind from the near peak. Head up, scrambling rocks, to the finish. Catch a photo at Lover’s Leap and smile.
Congratulations, your reservations for your next Rich Mountain experience are confirmed.
Common animals include black bear, deer, armadillo. Unfortunately, this trail has had no current sightings of the North American Yeti.
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Land Manager: USFS - Ouachita National Forest Office