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ATVing Huckleberry Trail on Mount Magazine Arkansas!
This article is actually the compilation of two trips taken to explore the trails of Mount Magazine Arkansas on ATV's. The actual trails are not on the property of Mount Magazine State Park but are below the summit on United States Forest Service land. The trails consist of two separate but connected trails.
Apple Loop (11.9 miles)
Huckleberry Mountain Loop (22.4 miles)
Huckleberry Mountain Trail
Trip one was in April of 2001. We contacted the Ranger Station at Paris, Arkansas and received a trail map and information about the trail. We left Booneville and turned on Highway 309 at Havana. We were impressed by the steady climb to the summit of Mount Magazine. The actual trailhead is located approximately 1 mile past the Lodge and on the left side of the highway. The weather was unbelievable. It was in the middle 50's on the summit and in the 80's in the valleys!
Keith and I unloaded the 4-wheelers and stopped to inspect a pond used as a horse watering hole at the trail head. I grabbed the digital camera and GPS. Little did I know that the GPS would be of extreme importance. I checked our trail map and off we went. The first 2 miles are downhill to a crossing of Highway 309. Be careful when crossing the highway, the crossing is near a blind curve and this is a paved state highway. After crossing the highway, you descend another 2 miles to a forest service road. This is the first place you need to make a decision.
If you take the right, you are on Apple Loop. The trail map did not show this as a forest service road but it is! We took the right and rode a mile and saw where the trail entered the forest as an ATV trail. Here the trail was easily distinguished but muddy with pools of standing water every few yards. After getting through these mudholes we entered an old growth forest and descended to a large creek with shelves of rock and a small waterfall.
After crossing the creek we ascended to another forest service road! By now we were confused and consulted the map. I made a waypoint on my GPS and determined correctly that we needed to turn left of the road. We rode several miles and turned left onto another forest service road. Only a few hundred yards later we turned right on a dimmer road and immediately saw the ATV trail off to our left.
Here we entered another section of old growth hardwood-pine mix and were paralleling a ridge that overlooked Big Shoal Creek. We stopped and took a few photos and remounted our bikes and continued to a four-way crossing. After consulting our trail map we took a left and descended to Bull Shoal creek at a really neat ford. After stopping and soaking in the beauty we continued on and entered the same Forest service road (not marked on trail map) that we originally rode. We continued on this Forest Service road several miles and confirmed our original point of entry. This was the entire trip around Apple Loop.
Huckleberry Mountain Loop
On the north end of the area is Huckleberry Mountain Loop. It is 22.4 miles in length and varies from easy on Forest Service roads to difficult with rocky (read rough and bumpy) trails. Our second trip to the area found that some of the trails had experienced some severe erosion. Along this trail you will find a shallow cave and a tremendous shear cliff. You will have to look for each of these. They are located about two-hundred yards east of the first stream crossing with a dimmer ATV trail leading to them. They are worth the visit! It is a photo op just waiting for you!
There are several stream crossings that at the time were bottom-of-the-seat deep. Of course, they will be deeper or shallower depending on the local rainfall. After traversing these streams you start back uphill and arrive at another trailhead named Walnut Tree Camp. Here is where the trail gets rough for 3.1 miles (see dashed lines on north end of trail map). When you break out of the forest and onto a dirt road turn right and be ready to ascend to the top of the mountain. This is really a neat ascent. The road is terraced every 50 feet and then ascends and repeats the terraces over and over. Lots of small jumping here!
When reaching the summit continue straight and pass by the left side of the pond, the trail narrows and eventually hits another road. Turn left and follow this road to Forest Service road 1613. Turn right and look for the ATV trail 1.5 miles on the right. This trail was eroding badly. It is a dangerous ride for the novice! An alternative to this trail is to continue on 1613 and turn right on Forest Service road 1601 and continue until reaching Bull Shoal Creek. You should recognize this as your starting point.
For the first time visit to Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail, I recommend a GPS. A trail map is a must! The map is not completely accurate as far as showing all the Forest Service roads. Be careful and courteous. This is a popular trail and expect to see other riders on the trail. Drive accordingly. One interesting thing we found was butterflies. They were everywhere . See the photos included on the sidebar.