Watchable Wildlife

Watchable Wildlife (The “ADA” Trail)

Lovin' the LOViT's Elevated Walkway

Lovin’ the LOViT’s Elevated Walkway


This portion of the LOViT trail is designed to bring all users, including those who may be physically challenged, closer to nature. The entire trail segment is a 1.25 mile loop including a level paved area with benches and an Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) elevated walkway allowing users to access a wild wetland area at the south end of the Denby Bay area. The Trail circles a large open field, follows along the bank of Gap Creek as it flows into the bay, and then ducks beneath the towering canopy of a densely wooded area changing from woods to marsh and then open water. The elevated walkway, about .25 miles long, also connects to a bridge over Gap Creek. Cross the bridge to the .5 mile Gap Creek spur, which terminates at the old Highway 270 bridge and a small parking area.

Stone Sign - Watchable Wildlife - LOViT

An attractive stone sign marks the pavilion at the ADA Watchable Wildlife Trailhead

 When designing the Trail, we planned three short wheelchair-accessible spurs from the main trail to the edge of Gap Creek, where we quietly observed largemouth bass depositing their eggs in a clear rocky eddy along the shore of the creek. During the winter months, visitors are able to walk among hundreds of Coots, Pin Tail Ducks, Loons, Wood Ducks and on a good day even observe Bald Eagles fishing or harvesting Coots for lunch.

The trailhead currently includes a restroom, parking, and an information kiosk highlighting historical details of the trail and the lake.

Bridge Over Gap Creek - Watchable Wildlife - LOViT

This bridge crosses Gap Creek along LOViT’s Watchable Wildlife trail.

There remains an intent to continuously develop habitat for field and wood birds, including planting seed-producing grasses, wild flowers, fruit trees, and native berry-bearing bushes generating year-around forage for birds and wildlife all along the Watchable Wildlife trail segment. Additionally, the LOViT Traildogs and the Montgomery County Master Gardeners are planning guided interpretive hikes along this section of the trail.

The ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the Trail occurred October 7, 2011.

Surrounding Area:

This trail is at the edge Lake Ouachita, near the Denby Bay Trailhead. Lake Ouachita Shores Resort is across the bay.


1.25 miles.


Easy, handicapped accessible.


Restroom, water.

Directions to Trailhead:

Go 9 miles east from Mount Ida, or 25 miles west from Hot Springs, on Highway 270 to Shangri-La Road. You can’t miss the Shangri-La Resort sign. Go one block up Shangri-La Road to the first road on your left, Old Highway 270, go two blocks or so and you will see the parking area and information kiosk on your left. This would be a great place to begin developing your walking skills while enjoying the area wildlife. But if you pass the kiosk and continue along Old 270 just a bit further, you can access the main trail at the Denby Bay Trailhead.


Lake Ouachita Shores Resort (no restaurant) is across the bay. Tompkins Bend campground and Shangri-La Resort and restaurant are on Shangri-La Rd.

Recent articles about the Watchable Wildlife (“ADA”) Trail:

Help Protect the LOViT – A Call To Action

Help Protect The LOViT
By Making Your Voice Heard

The LOViT Traildogs, Friends of Lake Ouachita, and the Lake Ouachita Citizens Focus Committee are seeking user support from all those who hike, bike, or just generally love the LOViT.

The United States Forest Service has published an announcement of a proposed “Resource Management Project” (see the link below) that would likely damage the canopy, the tread, and the aesthetic beauty of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.

We urge each of you read the proposal letter and provide your input to the Womble District Ranger, Shalonda Guy.  Public input is a key element in the planning and execution of all Forest Service proposed projects.

In addition to the Project document from the USFS and their map describing the areas in which the proposed burn and timber harvest would take place, we have also attached a sample of letters already submitted regarding the viability of this proposed resource management project as background information for your personal response.

Many, many thanks in advance for your help and for your comments to the US Forest Service.

The Traildogs

(Click on the links below to view the documents):

USFS Gap Creek Project proposal:

Lake Ouachita Citizens Focus Committee Response:

Other individual responses:

2015 LOViT Marathon Is In The Books …

The 2015 LOViT Marathon was run December 5, and by all accounts, it was a successful event.

Your LOViT Traildogs supported the event by working at aid stations at both the Joplin and Hickory Nut Mountain Trailheads.

Click on the image below to view photographs of the runners who made it to the top of Hickory Nut Mountain, the turnaround point for this out-and-back marathon.

Runners gather at the LOViT Marathon aid station atop Hickory Nut Mountain.

Runners gather at the LOViT Marathon aid station atop Hickory Nut Mountain.
(Click on this image to view photos from atop Hickory Nut Mountain during the LOViT Marathon)

Here are the race results:  Also, a slide show with many more photos can be found here:  Finally, here’s the LOViT Marathon Facebook page:

What a great bunch of participants we enjoyed at this aid station.  Great people, great event!

2015 LOViT Marathon Scheduled for Dec. 5, 2015

The annual LOViT Marathon, a 26+ mile out-and-back course on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (“LOViT”), is scheduled for December 5, 2015.

Click for a larger .jpg version of the printed registration document. A .pdf should be available later.

Click this image to download a .pdf version of the printed registration document.

Registration and additional information for this Ultra Trail Series race can be found on the website of the Arkansas Ultra Running Association:

By registering for the race, it helps the race management and volunteers to put on a better and safer run for everyone, and it helps Phil and Bonnie Carr, who put on this annual event, when you register online via the above link, although registration is also accepted via “snail mail”.

You can keep abreast of current announcements and other race information through The LOViT Marathon Facebook page (and we hope you “Like” us there!).

A bit more information about previous LOViT Marathon events on the Trail can be found by entering “Marathon” in the search box on the right side of this page.

Enjoying the aid station at the Hickory Nut Mountain turnaround point for the 2014 LOViT Marathon.

Enjoying the aid station at the Hickory Nut Mountain turnaround point for the 2014 LOViT Marathon.

The LOViT Marathon is a terrific event for both serious and perhaps not-so-serious, but equally tenacious, trail runners.  We hope to see you on the LOViT December 5, 2015.

The start of the 2013 event was a little damp but was still a great event!

The start of the 2013 event was a little damp but was still a great event!

Two New Bench Plaques on LOViT’s Elevated Walkway – July 8, 2015

On Wednesday, July 8, Traildogs Jerry Shields and Al Gathright placed two plaques on adjacent benches along LOViT’s elevated walkway, part of the Watchable Wildlife Trail Segment.

The two bench plaques were donated in honor of Diann Gathright’s dad and her uncle. The benches are side-by-side on the fishing pier part of the raised walkway. It is appropriate to have the brothers together near the lake they loved.  Here’s their story as told by Diann’s sister, Pam Howell:

The Boys of the Lake

by P.R. Howell

If people didn’t know better, they would have sworn they were twins.

They looked alike, talked alike, laughed alike, and possessed a kinship beyond being older and younger brother (one of two). They were friends.

Their friendship was fostered – as anyone who had the good fortune to hear their boyhood stories – through a series of adventures and misadventures while growing up in North Louisiana and South Texas, the kind that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would find a competition for fun and mischief.

Traildog Jerry Shields placing the new LOViT plaque dedicated to Earnest Howell.

Traildog Jerry Shields placing the new LOViT plaque dedicated to Earnest Howell.

But what they had in common – love of God, of family, of country – was just the embroidery sewn on the fabric on this brotherhood/friendship. What really united them, what they talked about beyond their kids and grandkids, was The Lake and fishing, Fishing and the Lake.

Dorsey Howell lived most of his life in Arvada (Denver), Colorado, and Earnest Howell lived most of his life never ten minutes from a watering hole in Arkansas that could hold a boat, a man with a fishing pole, and the love of the sport, solitude when allowed , companionship when given. But where they loved to meet beyond any other place was Lake Ouachita, enjoy the hospitality of Al and Diann Gathright (elder daughter of Earnest) but, moreover, The Lake itself.

"Alpha" Traildog Jerry installing the plaque dedicated to Dorsey Howell on a bench adjacent to that dedicated to his brother, Earnest.

“Alpha” Traildog Jerry installing the plaque dedicated to Dorsey Howell on a bench adjacent to that dedicated to his brother, Earnest.

In younger years, they enjoyed “roughing it” in tents, on picnic tables, and fold-out chairs along the shores near Little Fir or Joplin, where they launched tents, boats, children to the water with Ivory soap, and heated cast iron pots for the daily or weekly catch, depending on the skill (or luck) of the lines and the rods and reels. Once older, and not as mobile (Earnest “handicapped” all of his life from an industrial accident in his late twenties, and Dorsey, slower moving, from a couple of knee replacements as a result of the daily hazards of his occupation, and Tom, younger, yet equally as involved in the stories), the three brothers still met at the Gathrights to go to The Lake, even if it meant launching from the pier rather than from the rocky shores of their favorite camping areas.

Even on the rare occasion they couldn’t even do that, they were still happy to meet at The Lake, send the others out to the day’s catch, launching them with the wisdom they had accumulated through the years about the art of fishing (“Just do it!”), and await their return for the rounds of tall tales, shared laughter, and a communion known only between fishermen but enjoyed by all.

Earnest passed away in August 2014 and Dorsey, who really never recovered from his grief, passed away in February 2015.

But on the memorial benches from family and friends and all who love and miss them that bear their names, and the bench to Dorsey Howell given from the youngest of the brothers, Tom, who still comes to the Lake to fish, rest, and visit his older two brothers on this special place, are where the two older brothers have reunited in spirit, welcoming all to come out on the handicap ramp and deck (built by the Traildogs) to get as close to The Lake as they can and sit a spell.

And on some days, in the quiet of the evening, as dusk falls, those who knew them can hear their words and laughter, see their eyes sparkle, and feel the kinship of love of The Lake – and each other – Earnest and Dorsey will forever share.

Italian Writer Discovers the LOViT – October 22, 2014

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

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 and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.
(Click this image to view more photos of this event.)

Carlo has promised a copy of the article when it’s been published.  We’ll look forward to sharing that on our website.