Ozark Highlands Trail

The Ozark Highlands Trail is a 165 miles long trail spanning most of the Northern half of the Ozark Mountains from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the Buffalo River. It offers a variety of diverse landscapes representing various topographic, vegetative, pastoral, historic, human and animal life communities that are typically found throughout the Ozarks.

photo: photo by OakleyOriginals, flickr

Length: 165.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:


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Location: Spans E-W across Ozark NF, from Lake Fort Smith to Richland Creek. Access at numerous trailheads.
State(s): Arkansas
Counties: Franklin, Pope, Johnson, Newton
Longitude: -94.030371
Latitude: 35.700052

Driving Directions

Starts at Lake Ft. Smith State Park on Hwy 71 and ends at the Buffalo River. Many trail access points can be found throughout the forest where it bisects most state and woods roads.


The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) is a combination of simple footpath and old forest roads favoring the heights of land, and located for minimum reliance on construction for protecting the resource. Views from the OHT are predominantly forested, sporadically intermixed with old fields, pastoral valleys, and cultural landscapes. The OHT offers a diversity of topography and a variety of vegetation and animal life exposing the hiker to the entire range of land forms, clear water features, history, and uses of the land found throughout the Ozarks.

The trail is the only designated National Recreation Trail on the forest. Facilities include the OHT footpath itself, trailhead parking areas, information boards at road crossings and developed recreation areas. Management practices are modified to recognize the nationally significant aesthetic and recreation values of these lands.

Additional Details

Width: 24 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: None
Average Grade: 15%
Maximum Grade: 30%
Elevation Low Point: 900
Elevation High Point: 2,200
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: Avenza maps
Website: Ozark Highlands Trail Association
Website: USFS Trail Details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Robert Duggan
Ozark St Francis National Forest
605 W. Main St.
Russellville, AR 72801
(479) 964-7200
[email protected]



No additional photos are available.


A challenging trail

The OHT is a heavily forested, backpacking trail located in Northern Arkansas. The prime time to visit is from October through April. The summers are hot, humid, buggy and the trail becomes choked with vegetation. This is an amazing winter hiking trail, with people coming from all over the country to get in some winter backpacking. This is a wilderness trail that does not pass through populated areas. You may never see another hiker while on the OHT. The maps from Underwood Geographics are essential, as is the trail guide by Tim Ernst. Your best source for information is the Ozark Highlands Trail Association

March 31, 2019


November 13, 2017



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