Not a dude
Is anyone here familiar with it? I live in Oklahoma and a friend lives in Louisiana, so Arkansas is well within driving distance of both of us. We're both new to trails, so we would need something that isn't incredibly technical and it seems that Ouachita has a little of everything. We're kind of looking at the Mena, Arkansas area as it's a good midway point between us. Any thoughts?
I highly recomend the Ouachita National Forest! I did a small section back in the begining of November while I was vacationing in Hot Springs, believe it was the Tompkins Bend section. I know that there are more rugged/technicial sections but I have to say it was quite a bit easier then I was expecting based on some of my running experiences in the Buffalo National Forest and Ozark National Forest further north so you shouldn't have any issues being a beginer as long as you pick your routes appropriately. I did't expereince a much elevation change either but that will vary based on where you go for sure. I really enjoyed my run, it was solid single track but in good enough shape that you could look up from time to time and enjoy the view. Normaly my eyes are glued to the trail or I take a nose dive. A lot of the trail heads are pretty far from any type of well stocked store so you will need to plan ahead and bring anything you may need. I know the AURA (Arkansas Ultra Runners Association) has some events that you may be able to get some information from. Also, LOVIT (Lake Ouachita Vista Trail) has a great website, both are linked below. I believe Athens-Big Fork Marathon is in the Mena area and they make is sound like a extremely challenging race so you may want research that area a little more to see what areas will work for you.
Awesome! Thanks so much for the information! I think we're definitely going to check out Ouachita, but trying to sift through the piles of info to find the right place to go that won't kill us is definitely no easy task. It looks like LOViT is well-maintained by the locals and could suit our needs really well. We're not planning to go right away, so we have some time to work out details and all of that. I think I'll contact AURA for recommendations suitable to beginners too. Thanks again for your help!!
I live in Tulsa, but have ran parts of the OT mostly on the Oklahoma side. I have been on the 12 miles or so on the Arkansas side during the Ouachita Trail 50K. That section is not super technical as long as you don't climb straight up Pinnacle Mountain. The Oklahoma sections are super technical though. Lotsa rocks. It's a better hike than a run, but I still go there for a good tough run every now and then.
I have a couple of posts about the area on my trailguide site http://www.tztrailguide.com/
Also, I have a couple of posts on my trail running blog, with lots of pictures. http://www.trailzombie.com/search/label/Ouachita%20Mountains
There's 223 miles of OT, along with lots of side trailz--and many of these side trailz are the best.