Joplin Cascades - LOViT

When the water is running, the view of the “Joplin Cascades” is both beautiful and soothing.


This trail segment is a marked departure from Denby Bay and Tompkins Bend. As you enter the trail you immediately begin a .75 mile downward grade that terminates at a secluded creek crossing covered by towering old growth hardwoods. After traveling about 1 mile on an old forest service fire road, there is a second wet crossing over Irons Creek. From here the trail parallels a beautiful creek lined with ferns and massive old rock outcroppings coated in emerald moss. There are several small waterfalls but the highpoint of this stretch is the five step Irons Creek “Cascade” located on the left about ½ mile from the crossing. Take a short 100 foot spur trail (see the sign and rock cairn) for a great photo opportunity or a soothing place to catch your breath.

One mile from the Cascade spur, you will come to a rock cairn and sign identifying your arrival at “Hot Dog Falls” and the foot of Hickory Nut Mountain. Here is where it gets hard. The next 1.5 miles is all uphill, rocky and increasingly steep until you reach two severe switchbacks just before the summit of the mountain.

Surrounding Area:

Mountain Harbor Resort includes fishing and boating potential. Turtle Cove Spa is also among the Resort’s facilities.


4 miles one way to Hickory Nut Mountain trailhead . But you can also backtrack from the Joplin trailhead 5 miles to Tompkins Bend Trailhead.


Strenuous. Five bridge-less creek crossings and a mile of steep climbing with two sets of switchbacks over the last mile to Hickory Nut Mountain. Moderate with one short, steep grade back toward Tompkins Bend.


Bathrooms, food, and water are available at the Joplin Store, located at the Highway 270 and Mountain Harbor Rd. intersection. There is a lodge restaurant at Mountain Harbor Resort , and there is a Subway restaurant at the Mountain Harbor Marina on Lake Ouachita; both are open seasonally, so check ahead.

Directions to Trailhead:

Go east from Mount Ida about 10 miles, or west from Hot Springs about 24 miles, on U.S. Highway 270 to Mountain Harbor Rd. at the Joplin Store/Mountain Harbor Resort sign. Turn north on Mountain Harbor Rd. and travel about 1 city block past the Joplin store and several mobile homes on the right. Turn right on the next road opposite the entrance to the Joplin Methodist Church (the Trail is marked with brown hiking sign). Follow the road east 4/10th mile to the parking area on the right.

To go west to Tompkins Bend Trailhead, exit the Joplin Trailhead parking area and backtrack on the road to where the Trail crosses Mountain Harbor Rd. It is 5 miles to Tompkins Bend.

To go east to Hickory Nut Mountain, exit the Joplin Trailhead parking area and go right (east) about 1/10th mile to the fork in the road. Bear left at the fork another 1/10th mile to the trail sign and take a left onto the Trail. It is 4 miles to the Hickory Nut Mountain Trailhead where there is parking for a dozen vehicles.


The Joplin Campground and Mountain Harbor Resort and Restaurant are each about 2.5 miles north on Mountain Harbor Rd. Follow the signs. Both Lake Ouachita Vacation Realty and Lake Ouachita Rentals have accommodations in the Harbor East area adjacent to Mountain Harbor Resort. The Joplin Inn at Mountain Harbor (formerly the Colonial Motel) is at the corner of Highway 270 and Mountain Harbor Road across the highway from the Joplin Store.

Recent articles about the Joplin trail segment:

Italian Writer Discovers the LOViT – October 22, 2014

Traildog Robert Cavanaugh had a great day Wednesday, Oct. 22. Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department asked Robert to lead her and two visitors from Italy on a mountain bike ride on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. Carlo is a magazine writer and is working on an article on Arkansas. He is a skier and a mountain biker. His friend, Giuliana, is a road biker. Zoie is a very good rider and is a great friend of the LOViT. We spent the day riding the trail, taking pictures, and then finished it up with a great meal at Shangri-La Resort (and a piece of the best banana crème pie in the known universe). A great ride with some very nice people. Click on the image below to view pictures from their time on the LOViT. Carlo has promised a copy of the article when it’s been published.  … Click to read the full article

A New Trailhead Sign At Joplin, and Clearing Trees on Bear Mountain – Oct. 15, 2014

Oct. 15 was a beautiful fall day for completing some work on the Trail prior to the planned October 28 at 1:00 pm Dedication Ceremony.  We had six Traildog volunteers today – myself, Robert, Dan, Chuck, John, and Jeremy – all helping install the new Trailhead sign at the Joplin Trailhead parking area.  We also cleared brush and weeds around the parking area and also the section of the Trail heading east where we utilize the old road. We also cleared the weeds from the Trail where it crosses Mountain Harbor Road. Finally, we checked out the ADA Trail for downed limbs and debris. It was a good day to be out on the Trail, and it was nice to have Chris Ham and Tom Ledbetter from the USFS join us at the trailhead. Yesterday, Oct. 14, Traildogs Robert and Dan covered Section 7 of the LOViT from Brady Mountain … Click to read the full article

Hunting Season 2013 – Be Careful On The Trail!

It’s hunting season in Arkansas, and because the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail is primarily located in the Ouachita National Forest, you must be aware of the potential for hunters to be on or near the Trail. Here are the “Hunter Orange Requirements” as published by the International Hunter Education Association: Arkansas (A) It is unlawful to hunt wildlife, or to accompany or assist anyone in hunting wildlife, in zones open to firearm deer, bear, or elk seasons, without wearing an outer garment, above the waistline, of daylight fluorescent blaze orange (Hunter Orange) within the color range of 595-605 nanometers or flouorescent chartreuse color range of 555nm – 565nm (Hunter Safety Green) totaling at least 400 square inches, and a hunter orange or hunter safety green head hat must be visibly worn on the head. (B) Florescent blaze orange (Hunter Orange)or florescent chartreuse (Hunter Safety Green) totaling at least 144 square … Click to read the full article

Photo Hike With Master Gardeners – Apr. 14, 2013

On Sunday, April 14, we had our first Photo Hike on the LOVIt trail in an effort to develop a bank of trail pictures for the Master Gardener 2013 Calendar. We rallied at the parking lot of the Joplin Methodist Church at 1:30 pm. We had an even dozen hardy hikers join us for the 2.8 mile, 2 1/2 hour hike through the hollows and hills of the trail that stretches from Mountain Harbor Road to Shangri-La Road.  The spring bloom is reaching its peak with the smiling faces of the Dogwoods greeting us at every turn.  The wildflowers were blooming where they receive more sunlight, but in the hollows, they were just before bloom.  This portion of the LOViT Trail has many interesting features which we took time investigate and photograph. We broke into two groups – the “Hares” and the “Tortoises” – to accommodate all skill levels of … Click to read the full article

Iron Creek Cascade Vista – Feb. 19, 2013

The Traildog rock layers were at work again today.  We had five volunteers assisting installation of the bench and creating the vista overlooking the Iron Creek Cascade at about the halfway point of the third section of the trail. At this spot where Irons Creek flows down from the deep valley between Broken Rock Mountain and Hickory Nut Mountain, the creek drops over five consecutive rock shelves creating a natural stopping place on the trail.   This natural cascade offers hikers and bikers a spot to take a break and enjoy the soothing sounds of the creek as it tumbles over the rocks of the Cascades rushing west to empty into Lake Ouachita. Attached are photos of the entrance onto the very short spur over to the bench site,  the Bench Site, and the view from the bench.   Next week we will be installing two benches on the seventh section … Click to read the full article