Cleaning up Trail Entrances – FS47A to Pipe Spring – May 16, 2014

Four years of storms and neglect were remedied last Friday when six Traildogs spent the day improving Section 5 of the Trail where it parallels and crisscrosses US Forest Service Road 47 between Crystal Springs Road and Hickory Nut Mountain Road. We worked the part of this section from the FS47A trailhead at the eastern base of Hickory Nut Mountain to Pipe Spring, where the LOViT joins the Charlton Trail leading to the Crystal Springs Campground Pavilion. We sought to improve access and signage at each entrance and exit point along the road. We started at the intersection of FS47 and FS47A, where we installed an assurance directional sign post. The post directs users to follow FS47A 1/4 of mile north to where the Trail turns left and proceeds west to the summit of Hickory Nut Mountain. We also installed a new sign at the FS47A trailhead. We cleared all … Click to read the full article

The End of Construction – April 11, 2014

With the final 700 feet or so of Section 8 of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) completed, we mark today as the day on which the original plan for the Trail has been fulfilled! Twelve years ago, Jerry Shields and Al Gathright began an effort to create a hiking and biking trail along the southern shore of Lake Ouachita with the intent not only to provide a terrific experience for those who enjoy this beautiful part of the country in which we live, but also to provide an additional tourist attraction to the area that would help bring “shoulder season” traffic to the resorts, restaurants, crystal shops, and other businesses in our area. Their goal has been realized with today’s completion of the LOViT as the Traildogs groomed the final stretch that emerged at the Trail’s easternmost trailhead near the Avery recreation area below Blakely Mountain Dam. A great … Click to read the full article

Trail Finish Work – April 2, 2014

A warm and humid day on the Trail today, but it didn’t slow down the seasoned Traildogs as we pushed the finish work further down the south flank of Blakely Mountain. We completed finish work on the old tramway roadbed and down across the spring-fed creek at the bottom of the mountain. We spent a couple of hours armoring the very wet and muddy crossing of the creek as we began our approach up to the Corps’ security gate at the intersection of Rick’s Road and Blakely Dam Road. We visited with the Progressive Trail Design Crew, who assured us they would complete the machine finish work to the Avery Recreation Area today. We are scheduling our next and hopefully final workdays next week.  We are planning three scheduled workdays: Monday April 7th, Wednesday April 9, Friday April 11th, and, if necessary, Saturday, April 12th. Once we determine our final … Click to read the full article

Blakely Mountain Dam Vista – April 1, 2014

Spring and pollen are back as we began our descent of Blakely Mountain from the switchbacks leading down from the Blakely Mountain Dam vista site. Without the Trail, very few people have ever seen the view from this vista that overlooks the Dam and the bay leading up to the face of the dam. It is an area of large boulders that nature has taken time to paint with grey lichens and emerald moss. A group of eager Ouachita Mountain Hikers came through our work site this morning, checking out the new trail from the security gate on Rick’s Road over to the Brady Mountain Road Trailhead. We could also see fresh mountain bike tread marks in the freshly turned soil on the trail. Seems everyone is ready to enjoy this new section! We had another crew of experienced trail groomers today, and we pushed the finished tread about halfway … Click to read the full article

U. S. Forest Service Prescribed Burn on Bear and Little Bear Mountains – Early April, 2014

The prescribed burn took place on Monday, March 31, on very short notice.  We did get a note out via Facebook, but we didn’t get notified in time to get a website update out ahead of the event.  The USFS was very careful with respect to placing notices at the trailheads, and they covered the length of the Trail to make sure nobody was on Little Bear or Bear Mountains at the time of the burn. The United States Forest Service (USFS) is planning a prescribed burn on both Bear Mountain and Little Bear Mountain in early April, 2014.  The burn will cover some 5500+ acres from Crystal Springs to Brady Mountain.  The Forest Service will post signs warning potential hikers of the event, and it is most important that you do not enter this area prior to the prescribed burn event. The prescribed burn will take place on a … Click to read the full article

One-third of a Mile Closer – March 31, 2014

The last day of March proved to be a winner for trail diggers.  We had a great team of experienced Traildogs meet at the Blakely Mountain section of the trail just east of where the trail crosses Rick’s Road. The Progressive Trail Design (PTD) team had roughed in and machine groomed the trail last week, and it was ready after two sunny days for the final hand grooming that only the Traildogs give to a a trail’s surface. We started the day developing the trail crossing sites on both the west and east sides of Ricks Road by constructing four large rock cairns on each side of the entry points and installing trail user posts on both sides of the road. We then broke into two team working the trail surface and a special effort on the angle of repose to remove all the loose rocks that might later roll … Click to read the full article

Saturday Construction and Cookout – Mar. 22, 2014

Saturday was a day to remember on the Blakely Mountain section of the Trail, with a gang of Little Rock Air Force Base Volunteers joining the Traildogs for a day of finish work on the newly constructed tread progressing east across the rocky southern face of Blakely Mountain.  The Progressive Trail Design Machine Crew worked through the boulder strewn slope, with the trailing two machines reaching the Rick’s Road crossing, and the lead Sutter Trail Machine reaching the Dam overlook area. The rain showers that crossed the area Friday night made conditions less than ideal for finish work, but the volunteers persevered and pushed the finish work up to the Rick’s Rd. crossing, catching the two trailing machines by day’s end. The day was highlighted by the addition of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation’s First Cook, Wayne Shewmake, joining the volunteers, and while the trail volunteers were busy with trail work, … Click to read the full article

Blazing the Trail – Mar. 11, 2014

Another good day on section eight.  The Traildogs pushed the trail further along the east slope of Brady Mountain, with grooming now only 1/10 of mile from the Forest Service road that leads down the mountain. While a team of 4 Traildogs (Al, Chuck, John, Mike) pushed down the mountain, Traildogs Robert and Dan started from Brady Mountain Road and painted blazes along the trail, catching up with the rest of the team just in time for lunch!  Well planned!  The new tread is now marked all the way to where the Trail joins the Forest Service road that comes out on Spillway Road. We will not have a scheduled workday on Wednesday, March 12, but will return to the trail on Thursday at 9:00 am.  We will continue to meet at the parking area on Spillway Road. The Progressive Trail Design Team is now pushing the trail east of … Click to read the full article

USFS 2012 Volunteer Organization of the Year Award for Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson, one of the first U.S. Forest Service Rangers who worked with the nascent Traildogs during the first years of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail design and construction, could not be with the Traildog team when the Forest Service presented the Traildogs with their 2012 Volunteer Organization of the Year Award.  However, Tom met with Traildog Mike Curran for dinner on March 6, 2014.  In Mike’s words: “I had a wonderful visit and dinner with Tom and Sandra Ferguson last night. Tom is one of the original Traildogs, now living in Rodgers, Arkansas. I had the opportunity and pleasure to present Tom with the Regional Foresters award for his participation as a volunteer Traildog building the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.” More from Alpha Dog Jerry Shields: “Tom was one the first rangers we worked with in the first years of the LOViT. It used to be a joke about … Click to read the full article