Formerly the Indian Nation Trail (INT), the Choctaw Nation Trail is a 43 mile multi-use trail that connects Holson Valley with the Kiamichi Valley.. The first 27 miles are presented on the Holson Valley to Bohannon Lake page of OuachitaMaps.com, with mile one in Holson Valley. This page presents the trail between Bohannon Lake and Billy Creek on two maps.
The renaming is recent and I will continue to use the INT until the I reprint the maps.
Overview: The trail begins on the Holson Valley Loop map on FR 8552, located at the just east of the big turn on the Holson Valley Road. The INT goes west where it is covered by the Boardstand-Old Military Road Loop map and coincides with both named trails. On the north flank of Winding Stair Mountain the INT splits from the Old Military Road Trail and crosses Talimena Drive east of Old Military Road Vista. The Talimena-Bohannon Loop map shows the trail as it descends the south side of Winding Stair, crosses the Ouachita Trail several times, reaches the valley floor near Talimena State Park and heads east to a point north of Bohannon Lake. The Bohannon to Lennox Ridge and Lennox Ridge to Billy Creek maps cover the INT on its eastward course to FR 6020, north of Billy Creek Campground.
The INT is a multi-use trail open to hikers, horses, mountain bikes and dirt bikes. Consequently, the trail tends to be wide and because it uses some of the old logging roads, is regularly 2-track. While we have seen very few of people on any section of the trail, the impact of the dirt bikes is especially apparent on the steep sections in this area. There, the combination of the motorcycles and rain have filled the trail with angular cobbles making steep segments poor quality for hiking. The INT between Bohannon and Billy Creek goes through some nice areas and has some nice views, but this is definitely not the best hiking trail section in the Ouachitas. Unless you have hiked all the trails in this area and want something new, or if you are planning to do the entire INT and loop back using the Horse Thief and Billy Creek Trails (a 59 mile loop), I recommend starting with a different trail section.
The trail is blazed with yellow paint and with 4"x6" (approx) yellow signs with "INT" painted in black. There are many other old logging roads and ATV trails that cut across or share the INT in this area. Some are shown on the map, others are not. Watch for trail signs.
The Maps: These maps are based on a GPS track taken September 28-29, 2007 using a WAAS enabled GPS. The maps are true 1:24,000 scale and are available as a free download. Preprinted color maps on 11x17, "Rite in the Rain” all weather writing paper are also available (see below). The Indian Nation Trail is shown in yellow. Also shown are other trails, forest roads not depicted on the standard quads, trailheads, waypoints and segment mileage. Other features on the preprinted maps include general directions and waypoint coordinates.
Indian Nation Trail-Bohannon to Lennox Ridge: This map picks up the INT south of the junction of the Bohannon Trail where the INT leaves FR 6015 to the east. As noted on the Holson Valley to Bohannon Lake page, the Bohannon Trail is a multi-use trail that connects the INT with the Ouachita Trail. FR 6015 is the forest road that goes through Boy Scout Camp Tom Hale on Bohannon Lake. Although 6015 has a lot of cobbles north of the camp, both the Bohannon Trail junction and the south junction of the INT and 6015 are accessible by moderate clearance vehicles via public forest roads.
At mile 27.4, the INT leaves FR 6015 and heads east on a forest road. It leaves the road, climbs 700 feet and follows a prominent ridge before descending to Sycamore Creek (32.7 miles). Although Sycamore is a reliable water course, be advised that at the end of a dry summer, virtually any stream in this part of the Ouachitas could be dry. If in doubt, call the District Office of the Ouachita
National Forest in Hodgens. Besides, if it is that dry there will also be a high fire danger alert you will want to know about.
From Sycamore Creek, it is a
500 foot climb up Lennox Ridge. At 33.4 mile you will pass a nice vista of Winding Stair Mountain to the north and at 33.6 miles you will intersect FR 6013. Turn right (SW) and head down hill for 0.3 miles to where the INT leaves to the east. The next 1.8 miles follows the south flank of Lennox Ridge. Then, the INT descends, follows a few forest roads, cross a draw, goes over a knob and then descends to another creek marked as waypoint IN-12 on both maps on this page (37.2 miles).
Indian Nation Trail-Lennox Ridge to Billy Creek:
So what is special about IN-12? Well it had water and I needed a point to make the trails overlap. And that's all.
From there it is up another ridge and then back down to cross FR 6050 at 38.9 miles. FR 6050 is a better road than a lot of the forest roads in this area and is suitable for any car. When you get to 6050, turn left and follow it for 100 feet or so to where two subsidiary roads come in. Take the right hand one and follow it for 0.6 miles where the INT goes left into the woods (39.5 miles). After 0.9 miles, you will intersect another forest road and turn right (40.4 miles). At 40.6 miles, you will leave the road to the left and meander through the woods until 41.4 miles. Turn left on a straight forest road, go to the end and turn right. Now you are back in the woods again until mile 42.2 when you cross the Lennox Ridge Road. This road can be used to get from the Highway 63 and the Billy Creek area to Talimena Drive. I wouldn't try this in a low riding vehicle.
The last 0.7 miles is downhill from the road, across the wooded bottomland of Billy Creek and across the creek. The creek crossing is usually a dry boulder hop. Past the Billy Creek is FR 6020B (42.9 miles). Turn right (south), follow the road for 0.3 mile and the parking area is just around the bend on the right.
Indian Nations Mega Loop: Completely unofficial, this loop uses the Billy Creek Trail, Horse Thief Spring Trail and some equestrian trails to get back to the beginning of the INT in Holson Valley. The Horse Thief-Billy Creek map will give you several options that can utilize the east or west Billy Creek Trails up to Winding Stair and either the east or west Horse Thief Spring Trails to ultimately get you to FR 8557 (Equestrian Trail 4). On the Holson Valley map, follow FR 8557 to Forest Road A35A, climb over a small ridge and arrive back at the beginning of the INT on FR 8552.