The WR250r and I prove routes for the TOTO (Tour of the Ouachitas) OK/AR
The Ouachita National Forest spans from Southeast Oklahoma into Southcentral Arkansas.
It is a pretty good sized forest (especially for us from down here in Texas that are surrounded by pavement and/or private lands :puke1 ). A while ago I started compiling tracks from my previous rides to this area, as well as tracks from others' rides. My goal was to create a multi-day loop ride that would sample some of the best riding the Ouachtia Forest has to offer. Last year a "Travel Management Plan" was implemented which has caused the closure of some roads and trails :deal. This trip would be a reconnaissance mission to prove tracks that I had not ridden, as well as ensure all routes/trails are indeed still open.
I always seem to start my rides from the State park outside Talihina, OK. It's at the far Western edge of the forest, so that makes sense - it's only about a 3 hour drive from my house in Texas. Today would be no different, and I haul the little WR250r up there in the truck, unload it out of the truck, and then saddle it up for the ride.
I am carrying all my camping gear with me. I know it may be too hot to camp, but I wanted to sample the route with the bike loaded in the same fashion as it would be for a multi-day camp/ride trip. I head out to the first trail I want to check out.
The drought in this area was finally busted a few months back, and things are really thick.
I am not sure how much of this is overgown due to the wet Spring, or just lack of use :dunno.
It has been a while since I have done any light weight dual-sport touring on this bike, and it takes a bit to get used to the extra weight of the bags.
One thing that is a fact of life while riding in OK/AR - It is rocky :nod ! Some would say to "Make rocks your favorite!" :D
More in a bit....
Looking forward to this! boogn1sh and I did a bit of this area last Memorial Day weekend...very nice riding and I can't wait to get back and spend another weekend.:D
Looking down the trail...
I only have a bit further to get through this nasty section.
And I emerge at a split of two trails.
I follow the trail a little ways more til I junction with a small 2-track forest road.
I opt to jump on the road to make some time and get heading East, although I can't help the occasional diversion into the woods as the trail zig-zags across the forest road I am on.
I love it out here!! I stopped a lot on this trip to snap photos (as you will see), and it was wonderful. Lots of time to take it in, and lots of time to think.
*Lame introspection eminent: It's moments like this that I work all week for. This is what I am, this is what I enjoy - Being outside. Exploring. Traveling. :norton
A little more on the TOTO (Trail of the Ouachitas)... It's a dumb acronym, I know :lol3. I envision this route taking 3 days to complete if ridden in it's entirety. Light weight, self sufficient camping off the bikes would probably be the best way to tackle it, and I would look to do it in the Fall (before hunting season) or a mild spell during the late winter (after hunting season) - I don't really like to camp in the forest during the late Spring or Summer. It's too hot, and everything is alive - including ticks, snakes, chiggers, etc... :cry. Anywho... the route will include a sampling of both Motorcycle Trails in Oklahoma, as well as all three OHV trail systems in Arkansas. Today I am just jumping around and trying to get to the areas that I haven't ridden/explored much. I am not riding the full route.
Back to the ride...
I start heading East, and check out some roads.
I have to back track out after a couple of failed attempts at connecting roads
One gate, and one road that lead up to a cabin and a trailer that seemed currently occupied by the actively enlisted clothes line. It always sorta makes me nervous when the road I am on ends in someones front yard. Especially when I am solo, and especially when the properties are obviously currently occupied. Keep in mind that I never go down a road that is marked "Private Property", so theses are "public" roads, I am just a pussy :D.
On to another road that I have tried to connect a few times, but due to the water-level at the creek crossing at those times, I always bailed on it.
But today the water was way down.
And the crossing was pretty straight forward with just a small ledge to climb up and over on the other side.
Crossing conquered and noted. Time for a self portrait:
And keep on East/Northeast on some nice forest roads I have ridden a ton of times.
more in a bit...
Good report, keep it coming.
Keep it coming you bastard. I'll just live vicariously through you for now. FYI - Jglow is a bastard because I sold all my bikes to buy a new one and haven't pulled the trigger yet while he's still out having fun. I'm just jealous. Haha
OK now I'm looking this place up to see a future for my wrx in there.
Good job & good thinking about the fully dressed wrr. This is a good need to know.
Glad you made the water crossing, was beginning to worry
I'm still in Oklahoma at this point, and headed East towards Arkansas.
This section of the route takes you by a gas station in Haw Creek. This is just North of the Black Fork Mtn Wilderness area. Well, it appears that the gas station is no longer open. Maybe somebody can confirm this :dunno (just in case they were closed for a random reason on a Saturday). This is not an issue for me with my bike. I have a 3.7 gal tank, which gives me about a 200 mile range, but it could be a concern for folks with less range.
I'm not quite sure how long I had this leaf stuck in my visor for... I only just noticed it after reviewing the photos :lol3.
A little while later I am crossing the state line, leaving Oklahoma...
...And heading into Arkansas.
I'm heading up towards Poteau Mountain, where I will follow the ridge across towards Waldron, AR. I come to a section of forest that has recently been harvested.
And while it sucks that this area is now void of old trees...
I don't necessarily have a problem with the fact that it is harvested - It's certainly renewable, and I am a consumer of wood and wood products, but...
There's something about the way it's done - the workmanship if you will...
I mean, the least you could do is remove the empty 5 gallon buckets of Hydraulic Fluid (there were several more). I suppose they are trying to compost them :lol3.
But I am probably just making a stink about nothing, as it's probably more of an aesthetic issue realistically. But the argument can be made that compares the damage created here (timber harvesting activities) to the minimal impact of a 12" wide single track through the forest :dhorse.
Climbing up the mountain now...
There was a trail that I saw on a MVUM (Multiple Vehicle Use Map) that looped out of the Poteau Mtn Overlook, but I could find no trace of it. I didn't spend a ton of time looking though. There was a dude in his car, and dudes in their cars by themselves in a remote location sorta freak me out. Keep in mind though, as I mentioned earlier, I am a :baby.
I kept on across the ridge, and stopped about halfway across for a late lunch of Slim Jims and granola bars.
Very good riding today.
I finally make it across the ridge on Poteau Mtn, cross over the Hwy, and keep heading East to Sugar Creek Multi-Use Trails. A friend and I rode some of these trails back in the late Fall, and had a blast. I wanted to sample some of the trails I hadn't been on, as well as explore the area.
Jumping into Sugar Creek Trl 1 (?)
Some of it got a little more gnarly than I was looking for, but it was fun none the less.
Although the bike was a bit heavier all loaded up, and therefore didn't feel quite as nimble, it actually did really well over the really rough and steep stuff. I think the extra weight on the rear tire helped to keep it in contact with the ground :thumb.
Some nicer sections...
After traversing across the trails in a generally Eastern direction I came out to a forest road that I took up to the Knoppers Ford Rec area. I was looking for some camping spots, but these at Knoppers were really exposed and right off of the road. I went on a few more miles to the Jack Creek area, but they only have about 5 camping spots and they were occupied. Seems like a popular spot to do some swimming. My plans were to head South from here towards Fourche Mtn. As it was starting to get late in the day I figured I would just bypass the Fourche Mtn trails for now and shoot down to Mena, AR, see how I felt when I got there, then decide if I would hit the forest south of there or snag a room. Well the distance from Waldron to Mena was further than I had remembered, and by the time I got to Mena I was done for the day. I snagged a room at the same motel I stay at every time I am there.
On the bike stats:
It was a pretty long day considering that I had driven up from TX earlier that morning. I picked a tick off of my leg, jumped in the shower, and fell asleep pretty early.
Tomorrow would be a lot of familiar riding areas for me, with a visit to the curve in the road that gave me a bit of grief on a trip ended early back in January :(:.
I can't wait to start riding again. This is awesome!
:lurk thanks for sharing, keep it coming!!
Been looking for a ride report from this area. Are you going to include some tracks so the rest of us can find our way through and around?
And the motel in Mena?
Day 2 to follow...
Thanks for sharing your trip! Heading toward Oklahoma in a couple of weeks on the TAT, wish this o
Was on the trail.
Man I will be honest, riding the sportbike was fun up in north Arkansas but I think I would have rather been following you down some of these trails. There is always next weekend??:evil
Jtmajors, buy a bike already!
Nice report, I have the same body armor, do you find it unzips its self after while?
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