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Chuck’s Blog — “Trails Less Traveled: Winding Stairs Trail”

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  • Chuck Dovish
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In a remote setting of the Ouachita National Forest southeast of Mena, there is a gem of a trail that has been a favorite of mine ever since I set foot in Arkansas more than four decades ago. Coming up on Wednesday we’ll feature it on “Trails Less Traveled.”

The Winding Stairs Trail is actually a two-mile section of the longer 16-mile Little Missouri Trail along the Little Missouri River— a nationally designated Wild and Scenic River. Winding Stairs gets its name from the series of bends and rapids of the river. It is definitely one of the more scenic trails in the Ouachita Mountains.


The trailhead is located two miles west of the Albert Pike Recreation Area. Rock formations, cascades and swimming holes are what you’ll experience every step of the way. There are plenty of overlooks of the river and photo ops. The fishing is great, too, with smallmouth bass being quite prevalent, so bring a rod and reel!


During high water, as you might guess, this area is also popular with floaters— the inner tube kind that is — since you can pack it in deflated and then inflate when you get there. Since there are a couple water crossings, be sure and keep that in mind during high water.

All in all, the Winding Stairs Trail is a fantastic way to experience the Ouachita Mountains!

Come with us for a virtual visit when “Trails Less Traveled: Winding Stairs Trail” premieres on Arkansas PBS and “Exploring Arkansas” social media outlets Wednesday, June 10, at 2 p.m., including Facebook and YouTube, and on the Engage Arkansas PBS App, available for free in the App Store and Google Play Store.Want to see it — or share it — on a bigger screen? Watch AR PBS-1 in primetime on Thursday evening after “A Place to Call Home” to see the full segment on broadcast!


If you’re already planning your trip to Winding Stairs Trail, don’t miss a chance to enter to win an Arkansas PBS prize pack! From now to Aug. 12, whenever you watch a segment and, then, share a photo on the Engage Arkansas PBS app, you’ll be entered to in a random drawing for an exciting collection of Arkansas PBS and “Exploring Arkansas” swag and/or experiences. Check out details and rules at