Ouachita Mountain Area Tour

Located a few miles from Poteau, in addition to five large camping areas, Lake Wister State Park offers rustic cabins and a restaurant. Miles and miles of paved rural roads, plus dozens of historical sites make this a most interesting area in which to ride. US 59 takes a rider to the top of the Ouachita Mountains with much less effort than by approaching them from the west. Either Lake Wister or Talimena State Parks are ideal kickoff points for cyclists who want to test themselves against the rather serious hills of the Talimena Scenic Drive through the Ouachita National Forest. It is fifty miles via this route to Mena, Arkansas with services about midway at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge. There are alternate routes around either side of the mountains for those who prefer scenery to challenge. Nearby, don’t miss the Heavener Runestone, a 12 foot high monument-like granite slab that bears markings believed to have been made by Viking explorers around 1012 A.D. For the mountain bike rider, there are hundreds of miles of trails in this area including the scenic Winding Stair Recreation Area and more than a hundred square miles of land around Lake Wister which is covered with trails and old ranch roads. The area is dotted with abandoned homesteads which could make for an interesting day of exploring. The trails in the forest range from easy to extremely difficult and some of them are used so seldom that they may prove hard to follow. Some trails are dedicated to particular users such as hiking and equestrian, so one should obtain maps and trail information at the information station located at the western entrance to the forest on SH 1.