Like the Boardstand Trail, this loop starts at Talimena State Park and uses the first section of the Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma. However, instead of coming back through Holson Valley, it drops south along the Bohannon Trail and returns to the park along the little used Choctaw Nation Trail (formerly Indian Nation Trail, INT). The trip is about 17 miles.
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. The Ouachita Trail is shown in blue, the Indian Nation Trail is shown in yellow, and the Bohannon and connector trails in purple. Map includes forest roads not shown on the standard quads. Other features include trailheads, segment mileage, general directions to park, waypoints and waypoint coordinates.
The Hike:While this narrative of the Talimena Bohannon Loop begins at Talimena State Park, there are numerous access points that can be used to alter your trip. They include Potato Hills Vista and Panorama Vista off Talimena Drive and several Forest Roads that cross the INT. Another possibility that will add a couple miles to the loop is the vista near Deadman Gap.
Talimena State Park (OT-01), just off of US Highway 271 northeast of Talihina Oklahoma. Camping, showers and restrooms are available. Tent camping is $12 per night. Overnight parking while hiking is $5 per night payable at the envelope drop at the trailhead.
You have two choices to begin the loop. Option 1 is to take the Ouachita Trail (OT) which is what I designate as the loop on the map. The trailhead is on the east side of the park by the fee envelop the drop box. The trail is blazed in blue and heads due east from the parking lot. Option 2 is to pick up the multi use trail at the southeast corner of the campground and use it to access the INT. More on this option later.
Striking out on the OT, the trail will soon turn to the north and follow the east side of a small ridge. After dropping down to a small creek, it begins its 800 foot climb up Winding Stair Mountain. At 0.7 miles is the junction with the Old Military Trail. If you were hiking the Boardstand-Old Military Loop, you would head north following the white blazes. Still climbing, you will pass a series of yellow blazes beginning a 1.1 miles where INT crosses the OT several times. If your trip started with option 2, this is where you will pick up the OT.
With that segue, we will review Option 2. Take the multi-use trail south from Talimena State Park for 0.3 mile to a forest road and turn left (east). Look for the INT heading up a steep hill into the woods on the left (north) after about 0.1 miles (0.4 miles total). Since we didn’t have a trail map (which is why I made this one), we weren’t sure where the trail was and walked right by it. If you get to a prominent forest road heading north, you have gone too far. Not to worry, the trail is easier to see going back to the west.
One thing to watch out for on Option 2 is just before you get to the OT, the INT crosses an open area and gets lost in a brushy area. You will find a few blazes, but then they are gone. Go back to the clearing and head up hill and look for the yellow blazes just before the tree line. Take them right (east) and follow them to any one of 3 junctions with the OT. (Your trip, your choice.)
Back to Option 1. At 2.4 mile on the OT, you will complete the climb and be at the spur trail for the Potato Hills Vista. The trail stays fairly level at 1900 feet up for about a mile until it crosses Frazier Creek. The Frazier Creek campsite is 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.
Just after a 200 foot climb, you will pass Panorama Vista Camp and then the Panorama Vista Spur Trail at 5.0 miles. The campsite has room for several tents but is dry. Cache water at Panorama Vista. At 5.7 miles cross FR 6010. The OT heads SW along the east side of the forest road for 0.1 miles and then turns east. A more obvious trail at FR 6010 is a multi use trail that heads ESE. It is broad but has no blazes. While I suspect this will intersect the OT near the Bohannon cut-off, I have never hiked it that far.
The Bohannon Trail is 1.3 miles from FR6010 on the OT. The OT continues past Bohannon Camp (a nice one tent camp site with year-round water in a rock basin down slope) and reaches Talimena Drive in 0.8 miles. Deadman Vista is just around the bend to the left (west). The Bohannon Trail is an 1.8 mile multi use trail that, quite frankly, is more like a rutted dirt road. It, however, is the key to making this a loop rather than an out and back or being dependent on a shuttle. Its other saving grace is a nice little outcrop near the bottom that overlooks Bohannon Creek.
The trail intersects the INT at the bottom of the hill, which right here is using an old forest road. The INT uses yellow blazes and little yellow signs with INT stenciled on them. Go right (southwest ) for the loop. If you go left (southeast) you will intersect FR 6015 which in turn will take you to Bohannon Lake and the Boy Scout’s Camp Hale. FR 6015 can be used as an alternative trailhead for this loop.
On the map, IN-05 is the waypoint where the INT leaves FR 6010. 1.1 miles later it crosses another forest road. Because of the scale of the map you can’t really tell but you need to turn right on the road and then left back on the trail. If you go left on the road, after a while you’ll start seeing yellow blazes. These are equestrian blazes which will not take you back to Talimena State Park.
After crossing a small ridge at the foot of Buffalo Wallow Mt, the Rifle Range Road (FR 6132) and Blackjack Ridge, the INT intersects and follows forest road K00 (K00 is closed to cars and trucks at a barrier off Hwy 271). Stay on this past the creek, past the forest road that climbs to the north and past the junction where the INT climbs into the woods to the north (this is the area described in Option 2). Hike 0.1 miles past the INT junction, turn right (north) and follow the old road bed back to the state park.
Info: USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic maps: Blackjack Ridge, Whiteboro, LeFlore SE and Muse (trails not shown). Contact Talimena State Park at (918) 567-2052. Contact the Ouachita National Forest, Choctaw Unit, Hodgen OK, at (918) 653-2991.
Directions to Talimena State Park: Take Arkansas 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