Boardstand-Old Military Road Loop
This 22.1 mile loop combines the first section of the Ouachita Trail with two prominent trails in Holson Valley, the Boardstand and Old Military Road Trails. It is probably the best hike in Oklahoma providing a sampling of the OT without the need for a shuttle.
The Map: Nominal 1:24,000 based on USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic maps. Printed in color on 11x17, "Rite in the Rain” all weather writing paper. The Loop was mapped with a WAAS enabled GPS and is drawn in different colors to designate each trail. Also shown is the Indian Nation Trail (yellow), other trails and forest roads not shown on the standard quads. Other features include trailheads, segment mileage, general directions to park, waypoints and waypoint coordinates.
The Hike: Situated in the rugged Ouachita Mountains, the Boardstand-Old Military Road Loop offers the best 2 night hike in Oklahoma. It is comprised of 3 trails, the Ouachita, the Old Military Road and the Boardstand and, with 7 different trailheads, there are plenty of options for customizing the hike. The Oklahoma Ouachitas can be very hot and very dry so hikers are encouraged to check about water availability with the Forest Service and cache water if necessary.
The Ouachita Mountains were formed by low angle thrust faults of Pennsylvanian aged clastic rocks. The top of Winding Stair Mountain is a competent sandstone of the Jackfork Formation; the valleys are formed from eroded shale. The mountains have a maximum relief of about 1,600 feet and, in this area, reach a maximum elevation of almost 2,400 feet.
The trail begins at Talimena State Park (Trailhead #1, TH1), just off of US Highway 271 northeast of Talihina Oklahoma. The trailhead for the Ouachita Trail (blue blazes) is well marked and on the east side of the park. Camping, showers and restrooms are available. Tent camping $12 per night. Overnight parking while hiking is $5 per night payable at the envelope drop at the trailhead.
Head north on the Ouachita trail and enter the mixed hardwood (predominately oak) and pines of the Ouachita National Forest. At 0.7 miles turn left at the junction of the Old Military Road (white blazes) and finish the 400 foot climb up Winding Stair Mountain. Watch both ways, cross Talimena Scenic Drive and cut through the Old Military Road Vista (TH2, mile 1.6). Talimena Drive is a national scenic byway that runs along the crest of the Ouachitas from Talihina OK to Mena AR and is a fun drive offering winding curves and plenty of vistas. The Old Military Road vista has a historical marker telling how the road was built by the US Army in 1832 and was used to relocate the Choctaw Indians to Indian Territory and move troops to the interior from Fort Smith.
The trail heads downhill for a mile where it joins up with the Indian Nation Trail (mile 2.5). The INT is a 40 mile trail blazed in yellow that flanks both the north and south side of Winding Stair Mountain. For the next 11 miles, the trail will be blazed both yellow and white.
The Old Military Road trail finishes its decent into Holson valley and meanders towards the east for about 5 miles until it hits the spur trail to the Holson Valley trailhead (TH3, mile 7.5. It is 0.7 mile to the parking lot. No services available). If water is flowing in the creeks, there is a pretty little falls about 0.1 miles north on the spur. The Old Military Road trail ends at the spur and the Boardstand Trail (also blazed white) begins.
The Boardstand is so named because the Holson Valley, like the rest of the Ouachitas, was originally populated with short leaf pine trees. Easy access in the broad valley made it ideal for harvesting for lumber. While the second growth forest is an oak pine mix, the short leafs are coming back.
The trail continues in a southeasterly direction and crosses Forest Road 6010 (aka Deadman Rd) after 2.6 miles (mile 10.1). After another 2.5 miles (mile 12.6) the INT and Boardstand separate, the former heading east and the latter turning south and heading up Winding Stair Mountain. It is almost 800 feet to the top.
After one mile (mile 13.6) you will meet the Ouachita Trail. Turn right (west) and climb another 0.6 miles to Deadman Gap and cross Talimena Drive. (There is a vista a few hundred feet down the highway to the west where you can park. TH4).
The trail descends a few hundred feet over the next 0.6 miles to Bohannon Creek. This single tent camp site has year-round water in a rock basin a hundred feet down stream. Over the next 1.1 miles, the trail climbs another 600 feet to Forest Road 6010 (TH 5, mile 16.3).
The next 2 miles offer several spectacular views of the mountains to the south and climbs to the high point of the trail, 2200 feet. At mile 17.1 is the spur trail to Panorama Vista on Talimena Drive (TH 6) and at mile 17.2 is the Panorama Vista campsite. The campsite has room for several tents but is dry. Cache water (and a couple beers) at Panorama Vista. At mile 18.6 is Frazier Creek campsite, a spacious one tent site (you could force more) with abundant rock furniture and a big fire ring. Though water is usually available, this campsite is dry until the fall rains come. Cache water up the draw on Talimena Drive.
At mile 19.7 is the spur trail to Potato Hills Vista (TH 7) and the beginning of the final decent to Talihina State Park. Don’t be confused by the intermittent yellow blazes over the next mile and a half, the INT criss-crosses the Ouachita trail several time. The loop closes on its self at mile 21.4 where the Ouachita Trail intersects the Old Military Trail. Turn left and return to Talihina State Park (mile 22.1).
Info: The Boardstand-Old Military Loop was featured in the June 2007 Backpacker Magazine, Wild Weekend, Midwest Edition. A short loop that begins at Talimena SP and returns via the INT was featured in June 2007 Backpacker Magazine, Waypoints, Midwest Edition. USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic maps: Blackjack Ridge and LeFlore SE (trails not shown). Contact Talimena State Park at (918) 567-2052. Contact the Ouachita National Forest, Choctaw Unit, Hodgen OK, at (918) 653-2991. An 8.5” x 11” sketch map is available through the forest service.
Directions to Talimena State Park: Take US Hwy. 271 seven miles north east of Talihina OK. Turn right.
To Buy Map: This map is available at Backwoods in Tulsa ($5) and by emailing Charlie@OuachitaMaps.com ($5 plus S&H).
Weatherproof Topographic Maps at
OuachitaMaps.com - Hiking Trails of the Ouachitas and Ozarks