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  1. #1
    ObdewlaX's Avatar
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    Ouachita National Forest - Eagle Rock Loop

    This past weekend, I got out on the trail in Arkansas' Ouachita National Forest & did a 30 mile loop trail called, the Eagle Rock Loop. It's probably the most challenging trail close to Dallas. It is a great hike with plenty of water & features a beautiful area along the trail called, Winding Stairs which is located right on the Little Missouri River and features good camping spots, swimming & fishing and a great place to spend the morning/afternoon or even a full zero day.

    I'd been anxious to get on the trail for a while so I could try out some new gear... my SLD Trail Winder Asym underquilt, SLD sil/no-seeum mesh Catch-All, various LiteAF stuff sacks & bear bag, Lawson Equipment UltraGlide bear bag line & toggle, my Tenkara rod, my DIY gravity filter, new Morakniv Garberg Multi-Mount knife and a pair of Xero TerraFlex trail shoes. All performed great with the exception of the Xero shoes. The TerraFlex may be comfortable on a city park trail but for the ERL, it was a huge fail. The sole just wasn't up to the rocky trail conditions and by the end of each day, I could feel every pebble, every rock, every root, every grain of sand... they were horrible. Thankfully, I'd brought some Crocs for around camp & used them to hike out & back to the truck on my last day.

    The Eagle Rock Loop consists of the Little Missouri River Trail, the Athens Big Fork Trail & the Viles Branch Trail. I've hiked this trail at least a dozen times over the years, in all 4 seasons & it's always a great hike and easy to get to. I prefer hiking the loop in a counter-clockwise direction so I can hang around the Winding Stairs area, if I have the time, and it's always fun on the tail end of a trip.

    I got hiking around 10:30am and put in 10-12 miles getting to my first camp site & about 14 miles to my second camp site the following day. Every night and starting around dusk, dozens of fireflies began to come out and by the time it was totally dark, they were putting on quite a light show. In the pitch black, it's surprising how much light one of those little guys throws and it looked really cool watching it all from the comfy confines of the Trail Lair & this went on until I drifted off to sleep.

    Here's a video of my trip I put together for grins... hope it's entertaining.

    Last edited by ObdewlaX; 07-07-2019 at 15:03.

  2. #2
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    Nice video, looks like you had a great time.

    I plan on doing this hike at some point but I'm going to wait until it cools down a little.

  3. #3
    Member NOBOZax's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report.

    I saw in the beginning you had the All trails app for your map. Is this what you used and if so how did it do, was it accurate? I have this trail saved on my All trails app and am a pro user for offline use.

    Also that stinks you didn't like your Xero trail shoes. Those are a very minimalist shoe and take some time getting used to. I've been wearing the Xero Z Trail sandals all summer so far including hiking and I'm enjoying them. At first my feet were a bit sore and you do notice every pebble but after awhile I started enjoying being able feel the terrain. That said the longest hike I did in them was about 4 miles and I'm not sure if I would still be comfortable after similar milage as you just did. I plan on trying some longer mileage but bringing my Altras just in case and if they don't work I'll have great camp sandals Anyway thanks again and Happy Trails

    Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    ObdewlaX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOBOZax View Post
    Thanks for the report.I saw in the beginning you had the All trails app for your map. Is this what you used and if so how did it do, was it accurate? I have this trail saved on my All trails app and am a pro user for offline use.
    That was a screen grab I did but I met 2 guys leaving Winding Stairs who were using the All Trails app & they raved about it. One was a pro user I guess... he commented that whenever he got off the trail, his phone would vibrate letting him know he was off course. It's really hard to get too off track though as long as you keep looking for the white blazes on trees every so often, that mark the trail. Some of the river crossings were confusing and I got off track a couple of times, but in general the trail is marked pretty well.

    Quote Originally Posted by NOBOZax View Post
    Also that stinks you didn't like your Xero trail shoes. Those are a very minimalist shoe and take some time getting used to. I've been wearing the Xero Z Trail sandals all summer so far including hiking and I'm enjoying them. At first my feet were a bit sore and you do notice every pebble but after awhile I started enjoying being able feel the terrain. That said the longest hike I did in them was about 4 miles and I'm not sure if I would still be comfortable after similar milage as you just did. I plan on trying some longer mileage but bringing my Altras just in case and if they don't work I'll have great camp sandals
    Yeah, I wanted to like them but the trail is super rocky with tree roots all over and the soles of the TerraFLex shoes are just too thin for that type of trail condition. By the end of each day & especially the 2nd, I became acutely aware of how uncomfortable my feet were to the point of distraction plus, it really slowed me down being preoccupied focusing on the trail & my feet instead of the hike. I ordered a pair of Z Trails that I intended to use around camp but they didn't arrive in time for my trip. I totally recommend you take a back up pair of shoes in the event the Z Trail's don't work for you... you'll thank yourself!!
    Last edited by ObdewlaX; 07-08-2019 at 21:33.

  5. #5
    rhjanes's Avatar
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    Nice report.
    Call me Junior

    Pirating Corporate Takeover without the paperwork
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  6. #6
    New Member LaxativeLarry's Avatar
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    Nice report. I sectioned hiked the southern portion of the loop last year. Heading out there in November to tackle the whole thing. Plan on starting at the Athens Bigfork trailhead, knock the ridges out the first day, CCW.

    Will be taking out my DW Chameleon for the first time.

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