Ozark National Forest

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest is located in the state of Arkansas. It is composed of two separate forests, Ozark National Forest and St. Francis National Forest, each with their own biological, topographical, and geological differences. Together, the two forests are home to 23 developed campsites, and include nine swimming areas, of hiking trails, and of streams for fishing. It is also home to six different endangered species. The majority of the trails in what are now the Ozark National Forest and St. Francis National Forest were constructed under the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps.

Several National Scenic Byways cross the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, including the Scenic 7 Byway which runs from Missouri to Louisiana, 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 Creek, and Buffalo National River for fisherman and canoeists. The Mount Magazine Byway offers scenic overlooks of the Arkansas River Valley. Forest headquarters are located in Russellville, Arkansas.

Ozark National Forest

The Ozark National Forest encompasses 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, predominantly oak and hickory, comprise the majority of the forest. The forest contains five designated wilderness areas and several wildlife management areas.

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 . 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.

Ozark National Forest is located in parts of 16 counties. In descending order of forestland they are Newton, Pope, Johnson, Franklin, Crawford, Logan, Baxter, Stone, Madison, Yell, Van Buren, Searcy, Washington, Benton, Conway, and Marion counties. There are local ranger district offices located in Clarksville, Hector, Jasper, Mountain View, Ozark, and Paris.

St. Francis National Forest

The St. Francis National Forest was established on November 8, 1960 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It covers in eastern Arkansas along the Mississippi River, in Lee and Phillips counties, and is one of the smallest national forests in the United States. There are local ranger district offices located in Marianna. The majority of the Forest is situated on Crowley's Ridge, but it extends into the low, flat lands along the Mississippi and St. Francis Rivers. St. Francis National Forest is the only place in the National Forest System where the public can enjoy the Mississippi River from the shoreline.

While lacking the broad range of recreational activity available in other national forests, St. Francis National Forest is known for its fishing. The two largest lakes, Bear Creek Lake and Storm Creek Lake, enjoy large populations of largemouth bass, crappie, redeyed bream, and Channel catfish.

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