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Ozark National Forest

The Ozark National Forest is one of three National Forests in the State of Arkansas.

The Ozark National Forest encompasses 1.2 million acres primarily in the scenic Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas. The forest contains the tallest mountain in Arkansas, Mount Magazine, and Blanchard Springs Caverns. The southern section of the forest lies along the Arkansas River Valley south to the Ouachita Mountains.

The forest was created in 1908 by proclamation of President Theodore Roosevelt. The forest is home to over 500 species of trees and woody plants. Hardwoods, predominately oak and hickory, comprise the majority of the forest. The forest contains five designated wilderness areas and several wildlife management areas.

Several scenic byways cross the Ozark National Forest including the Scenic 7 Byway which runs from Missouri to Louisiana, 60 miles of which are within the Ozark National Forest. Scenic 7 Byway offers the greatest variety of Ozark topography and scenic vistas. The Ozark Highlands Byway provides access to the Mulberry River, Big Piney River, and Buffalo National River for fisherman and canoeists. The Mount Magazine Byway offers scenic overlooks of the Arkansas River Valley.

The Ozark Highlands Trail, built and maintained by over 3,000 volunteers, is the longest hiking trail in the forest and extends for 165 miles from the Buffalo National River to Lake Fort Smith State Park in the far western portion of the state. The forest also contains several multi-use trails including the Pedestal Rock Trail and the Alum Cove Natural Bridge Trail and a few wheelchair-accessible trails.

In addition to the hiking trails, the forest provides trails designated for horseback riding, canoeing, mountain biking, and all-terrain vehicles. The longest horse trail is the Sylamore Trail with a length of 80 miles. This trail passes over rocky bluffs, into deep hollows, and across mountain streams. The Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail has a stop at the Sorghum Hollow Horse Camp which was built and maintained by local horsemen.

There are 21 developed campgrounds scattered throughout the forest.

See also: Ouachita National Forest and St. Francis National Forest