Trail Closure Notice – Temporary

Central Arkansas Water has announced that forest thinning activities wil close the Ouachita Trail Tuesday afternoon, July 5th. The impacted area is mile marker 209 to Highway 300 (MM209-211.5) or from near Lundsford corner and west of there for 2 miles.

National Trail Day Event – June 4 Hike from Winding Stair Campground to Big Cedar

Greetings Friends of the Ouachita Trail!

My name is Andy. I handle social media for the Talimena Scenic Drive. This year we are really focusing in on the Ouachita Trail and I would love an opportunity to speak with you on how we can help support each other!

I would also like to let you know about an event on the trail for National Trail Day.

We are working with Ouachita Trail Guide to help promote a hike on Saturday, June 4th from Winding Stair Campground to Big Cedar.

Would love your support in helping spread the word. Here is the Facebook event page:

Thank you so much!

Andy Choquette

Jonathan Waldrip Memorial

Friends of the Ouachita Trail would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Jonathan Waldrip.  Jonathan passed away unexpectedly at the too young age of 34. He is remembered for a kind generous spirit, a great sense of humor and a loving heart.  He loved many pets that enriched his life. Jonathan found solace and renewal in nature and especially enjoyed camping, hiking, fishing and floating.  Sunsets and sunrises were his absolute favorites.  One of his favorite places was the Ouachita Trail in Flatside Wilderness.  Music was another huge outlet in Jonathan’s life and he enjoyed singing and playing multiple instruments.

FoOT has been honored by being the recipient of memorials in Jonathan’s name.  Hope we can all find the solace that Jonathan found in nature.  Embrace those special moments we are given.

Bo Lea, FoOT President

Black Fork Mountain Shelter Completed

The FoOT shelter volunteer crew completed the 9th new shelter for the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, Monday, November 9th, 2015.  The new shelter is the Black Fork Mountain location at mile marker 57.8  (N34 41.437 / W94 18.624).  It is in a beautiful location about 200 yards up the Black Fork Mountain Trail off the OT.  Upon completion of the final 3 shelters, FoOT will have completed its 12 shelter addition to the trail.  At that time, the OT with its existing 9 older shelters will have a complete shelter system for the entire Ouachita National Forest portion of the trail, which is almost 200 miles.

Current plans call for constructing the Turner Gap shelter in March, 2016 and the Suck Mtn. shelter in April, 2016.  The final shelter at Story Creek will be done in October of 2016, wrapping up an amazing project by many hard working volunteers.  It is hard to believe that in about 3 1/2 years FoOT will have built all of the projected 12 new trail shelters.

Your will find a link on the home page that takes you to a listing of all the new shelters with their status, mile marker, and GPS co-ordinates.  Hope you enjoy the new shelters.  If you meet a FoOT volunteer, say “thanks”.

Bo Lea

President, Friends of the Ouachita Trail

FoOT Board Member Nominations and Annual Meeting

FoOT is governed by nine directors, who the membership elects each fall. This fall we have three board positions to fill, and are seeking candidates for these positions. Board members serve a three year term. Those elected this fall will serve 2016 through 2018 (with two additional terms allowed). During that time, you would be expected to attend three to four meetings a year, to help provide overall guidance to the organization, to participate in the election of our operating officers, and to approve and monitor our financial position. Candidates for the Board positions must be identified by September 28th.

The Board elects the operating officers, which serve for the calendar year. Operating officers include the President, three Vice-Presidents (Maintenance, Membership, and Community Relations), and a Secretary / Treasurer. Candidates for officer positions must be identified by the end of the year December 31.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Board or wish to serve yourself, please let me know at or our Secretary / Treasurer, Richard Lawrence at There are numerous positions of service within FoOT.

You will be receiving information in a couple of weeks regarding our FoOT annual meeting. It will be held on Saturday, November 7th, 2015 in Hot Springs. Further information as to location and agenda to follow. Your support of Friends of the Ouachita Trail is greatly appreciated. A lot of good things are happening on the OT, we hope you can be involved.

Bo Lea

FoOT President

501-622-8809 cell

Friends of the Ouachita Trail Endowment

Since Friends of the Ouachita Trail was formed over 10 years ago, there has been a dream and desire to have a source of sustaining revenue to assist in carrying out our mission.

I am proud to report that it is no longer a dream on our wish list.  The “Friends of the Ouachita Trail Endowment” is a reality.  Our account with the Arkansas Community Foundation has been established after an initial cash contribution of $10,000.  A great feeling to actually see the FoOT account online in black & white.  A special thanks to all who have made this possible.  With contributions and pledges totaling $485,000, the FoOT endowment is off to an amazing start.

Now, we can build on this foundation to make the FoOT endowment an example of building a perpetual legacy for trails.  Taking FoOT to this new level is a major step for the organization.  Your strong ongoing support for FoOT is greatly appreciated.


Bo Lea,  FoOT President



OT Closing MM 205-212

UPDATE:    The OT trail closure outlined below has been delayed.  We will post the updated information when it comes available.   Time to enjoy some great hiking.

Bo Lea

FoOT President



OT Trail Users:

FoOT has been notified by Central Arkansas Water that they will be doing a selective thinning of some of their property along the north side of Lake Maumelle.  The work area will impact about MM 205-212, which is the second crossing of Hwy. 113 on the west end of Lunsford Corner.  The work may begin by the end of July.  Bids are being opened on July 9th.  For safety reasons CAW will have to close part of the Ouachita Trail that runs through this area.  “Trail Closed” signs will be posted once a definite start date has been determined.  A buffer has been flagged for a 66 feet for the trail corridor.  This will be 33 feet either side of the trail.  We will post additional information as we receive it, such as how long this closure will last.

Please contact FoOT if you have any additional question.

Bo Lea

FoOT President

Ouachita Challenge 2015

The  2015 Ouachita Challenge will be held on March 28th and 29th this year.  The tour (Saturday) and race (Sunday) will feature 250 riders from many states each day.  As usual, the event will start and finish at the Oden School.  An event of this magnitude requires a lot of volunteers to make it work smoothly.  We will need over 60 volunteers out on the course each of the two days.  Please consider volunteering if you can.  It will involve several hours of work and you will have a great view of the racers.  You may volunteer to be a course marshal or aid station worker by emailing Robert Cavanaugh at  If you need to call Robert, his number is 870490-1511.  If you can work both days that would be great, but if you can only work one day we can certainly use that help as well.  Give me your t-shirt size when you sign up.

This event provides funding to the Oden School and to local organizations as well.  The Friends of the Ouachita Trail will receive a considerable amount of funding as a result of providing volunteers for the course and aid stations.  These funds will go to maintain and upgrade the Ouachita Trail.

I look forward to working with you.  I will send out the volunteer assignments about two weeks before the Ouachita Challenge weekend.


Robert Cavanaugh

FoOT VP of Resources / Challenge Volunteer Coordinator

FoOT 2015 – Bo Lea, FoOT President

Hopefully the Holidays were good to everyone.  We can look back on 2014 as a good year for FoOT.  While a lot of “to do” items remain, progress was made in several areas.  Our shelter project completed the 7th of the 12 planned for the OT.  The first steps on establishing the Legacy Foundation for FoOT was completed.  After a difficult year of trail damage and growth, maintenance efforts were able to keep the OT in overall good shape.  Areas needing additional work are being addressed based on the recent audit of the entire trail.  Now is the time for FoOT to look at the opportunities for 2015.

FoOT would like to solicit your help in this new year.  Listed below are some of the areas you might be able to help with your time, talents, and/or funds:

(1)    The maintenance and improvement of the Ouachita Trail is the primary function of FoOT.  Our adoption program is the heart of this effort.  Look at adopting a piece of the trail.  You will enjoy being on the trail and will find the effort very rewarding.  Review the FoOT web site for more information.  We want to make our adoption team stronger this year.

(2)    Join the FoOT shelter construction team.  Lots of fun and a great feeling to see a new shelter completed.  Seven of twelve shelters have been completed.  Number eight will be built in late April on the Black Fork Mountain Trail just off the OT.  Contact me if you would like to be on the email list for the construction team.  If you know of any grants to assist this program let us know.

(3)    Be a part of the newly established Legacy Foundation, which will provide a perpetual source of funds for FoOT to maintain & protect the trails of the Ouachita Mountain Region for future generations.  Estate planning pledges of $475,000 have been made before the official campaign begins.  Our goal is $750,000 with a stretch goal of  $1,000,000.  During 2015, $10,000 in cash funds will be raised to open the Foundation account.  Currently $6,000 has been raised.  Consider being a part of this important conservation effort.  Contact me for detailed information or to address any questions.

(4)    Become a member of FoOT.  Review the web site to see the various ways you can become a member.  The process is easy and it puts you into the FoOT communication loop.

(5)    Perhaps the easiest of all.  Promote the trail, then get out and use the trail.  It is a great natural resource that we have available to us.  The response from trail users regarding the new shelters on the west end of the OT has been very positive.  A greater user base means more feet on the trail, keeping vegetation down.  More users also means a bigger pool of volunteers and supporters.

You can see there are ample opportunities to make your contribution.  Please give serious consideration to what role you might play.  Thanks!!

Bo Lea,  FoOT President