Take a leap onto Lover’s Leap Trail – A 1.1 mile, somewhat popular loop near Mena Arkansas. it’s about time you got lost in the Ouachita Mountains.
Each curve is a new impeccable view. In the spring you’re treated to wildflowers. In the fall, take in the beautiful orange, yellow and red of the changing leaves as far as the eye can see.
Get Ready: Lover’s Leap Trail is at Queen Wilhelmina State Park in the middle of Oklahoma and Arkansas along the Talimena Scenic Byway. The drive there will likely take a day trip. Fear not: the views of the Ouachita Mountains and National Forest are fantastic and there are plenty of places to stop and eat a picnic lunch. This hike, right in the middle, is perfect for stretching your legs during the drive.
Get Set: Queen Wilhelmina State Park is in Arkansas right after you pass over the Arkansas state line or right before you pass over the Oklahoma state line. As you approach the park you’ll see a large historic lodge, built in 1989, originally called Castle in the Sky. Pull into the parking lot and find a spot. The trail head is across from the lodge – you should see a large blue map at the start.
Go: This 1.1 mile loop has its ups and downs – in a good way. In the first ½ mile you’ll descend about 250 to 300 feet. The trail is somewhat rocky so you’ll have to watch your step – which is difficult because there are expansive views of the mountain range beyond. The next and final ½ mile you’ll ascend about 250 to 300 feet. You’ll walk past an overlook.
Go out for a 180 degree view of the gorgeous canopy.
Effort: This trek will take an experienced hiker 20 minutes without stopping, however you’ll want to stop and take in the view. A beginner hiker or hikers with kids should plan for 45 minutes on the trail.
Takeaway: This hike is truly a gem in the middle of the Ouachita’s. When I go back, I’ll be sure to hike it during sunrise or sunset. I have a feeling the view from that overlook is majestic.