Ouachita - Old Military Trail Loop
ElevationAscent: 2,891' 881 m
Descent: -2,891' -881 m
High: 2,169' 661 m
Low: 725' 221 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 24% (13°)
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“A loop in the Oklahoma Ouachitas beginning and ending at Talimena State Park.”— Todd Shelley
There are no campsites between Deadmans Gap and the Rock Garden Shelter unless you begin on the Boardstand Trail, so run the little extra and stay at the shelter. Pay attention to the blazes once you get onto the valley floor. They aren't confusing, but some areas can be misleading.
Be amazed at the manpower required to build the Old Military Road. Cache a treat for your party at the Old Military rest area.
Ideal cache locations are at MM2.4 which has a short spur trail to the Potato Hill Vista, just before MM5 is a spur trail leading to the Panorama Vista, FR 6010 located at MM5.8, and at Deadmans Gap at MM8. Cache enough water and food at Deadmans Gap to carry 1.4 miles to the Rock Garden Shelter at Ouachita Trail MM9.4, which makes a great spot to spend the first night.
The next morning, backtrack 0.7 miles to the Boardstand Trail at MM8.7. Drop into Holson Valley on this trail and enjoy several miles of wide, easy trail as you follow an old roadbed. Cache water before the trail along the forest service road leading from the Boardstand Trail trailhead located at 34.821549, -94.886334. The trail crosses this road multiple times, so cache according to how dry the area has been.
The signage at the Old Military Road Trail junction shows you have reached MM6.5 of the Boardstand Trail. Continue a short way on the Old Military Road Trail to a great established campsite located to the left of the trail and slightly downhill. There is room for multiple tents/hammocks and a large fire ring. Spend the night here before continuing on the Old Military Road Trail as it slowly curves south and climbs back up the mountain.
Pay special attention once you see the obviously man-made rows of rock along the trail. As you climb further up the mountain, the remains of the Old Military Trail (built in 1832) will become apparent. Cross the Scenic Drive at the Old Military rest area which is a great place to stop for a break under the covered picnic tables, then continue down the south face of the mountain to return to Talimena St.
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