Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) has partnered with the Ouachita National Forest to maintain and enhance the Ouachita National Recreational Trail since 2004. Part of the enhancement effort to the OT was a trail shelter project. The project called for adding 12 additional shelters covering approximately 120 miles on the western end of the Ouachita Trail The projects extends from Talimena State Park in Oklahoma to Highway 27, near Story, Arkansas. There are 9 existing shelters in the area between Arkansas Hwy 27 and Hwy 9, trail miles 121.7-192.5. FoOT has been working on this project to add additional shelters in Oklahoma and western Arkansas for several years and in late 2012 received approval to proceed following the completion of the necessary reviews and studies. The first new shelter was completed in March, 2013. This page will give you the status of the proposed 12 new shelters followed by a listing of the 9 existing shelters with mile maker information.
OT TRAIL SHELTERS are presented in mileage order:
ROCK GARDEN – MM 9.4 Completed November 2013
After the Holson Valley adventure (see below), and a 2-3 day break, the FoOT team and the Americorps Team started the Rock Garden shelter. It presented its own challenges. The site was 3 miles off Holson Valley Road on a single track dirt road with a very steep climb the last 3/10 of a mile. Wet & cold weather made the work site and access a muddy mess. The work team completed the shelter at 2 pm Sunday afternoon but before all the equipment was off the mountain, heavy sleet blanketed the area.
A big thanks to each volunteer. We appreciate Sarah Jones coordinating the Americorps Team. Norm Brumm continues his excellent work as our construction lead. On the Rock Garden, we would like to thank Ron Mayfield for bringing his 4 wheel drive tractor to deliver material to and from the work site. If you could see the steep grade and mud, you could appreciate how important that was.
HOLSON VALLEY VISTA – MM 16.8 Completed November 2013
This fourth new shelter was completed November 17, 2013 with the help of an Americorps Team. We could not have done it without them since we had to manually prep the site and then haul all the materials and tools down a 120 foot bluff! Thanks to all the youngsters! Decent weather.
WINDING STAIRS SHELTER – MM 25
This second new shelter was completed April 20, 2013. It is located at the old fire tower site near mile marker 25. Perfect weather!
PASHUBBE SHELTER – MM 34
Our third new shelter was completed June 21, 2014. Just as Foran Gap had been cold, this build out was extremely hot. Plans are to not schedule a new shelter build in the early summer again!
STATELINE SHELTER – MM 46.4
FoOT’s seventh shelter is now complete. Volunteers completed the State Line shelter the first week of October. Dodged a big storm. Excellent landscaping work. First shelter with larger sleeping deck. Great view to the south.
BLACK FORK MOUNTAIN SHELTER – 57.8
Proposed to build in spring of 2015
FORAN GAP SHELTER – MM 68.9
The first new shelter was completed March 4, 2013. It is located just east of the Hwy 71-Foran Gap trail head. The shelter was dedicated to Arthur Paul Cowley, a former Public Information Officer of the Ouachita National Forest. From 1965 to 1979, he was instrumental in developing the trail, which included trail planning, coordination and construction. Art retired from the Forest Service in 1988 and passed away in 2010. His family donated funds to build the shelter in honor of his time and effort on our trail.
We almost froze!
TURNER GAP SHELTER – MM 79.9
Proposed to build in 2015
BRUSHY CREEK SHELTER – MM 90.6
This shelter was completed May 2,2015. Faces south so should be a beautiful view after leaff-off.
FIDDLER CREEK SHELTER – MM 100.9
This shelter was completed March 29, 2014. Great site over looking Fiddler Creek.
SUCK MOUNTAIN SHELTER – MM 108.6
Planned to build in 2016
STORY CREEK SHELTER – MM 116.7
Planned to build in 2016. This will be the last shelter to be build. Shelter team working hard to get there.
The nine existing shelters are all in the area between Highway 27 and Highway 9:
John Archer Shelter at MM 122.6
Bill Potter Shelter at MM 127.5
Big Branch Shelter at MM 134.0
Blue Mountain Shelter at MM 143.2
Big Bear Shelter at MM 150.8
Moonshine Shelter at MM 158.4
Oak Mountain Shelter at MM 167.4
Brown Creek Shelter at MM 182.5
Nancy Mountain Shelter at MM 189.5
These nine shelters average 7.4 miles apart. The largest gap of 15.1 miles is due to the Flatside Wilderness.
One ‘complaint’ of the existing shelters is a lack of water sources nearby. Dependable water sources away from major roads are scarce on the ONRT as a whole. These shelter sites were chosen for proper spacing and ability to deliver materials for construction. Water sources were used where possible.